School Field Trip & Group Reservations

Overview

Donner Memorial State Park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range at an elevation of about 6,000 feet.

Interpreter led field trips take students and participants on an experiential journey to discover the Donner Party of 1846 and the California Emigrant experience, Washoe Native American culture, and diverse ecosystems.

Field trips and group tours typically take place on weekdays from 10am–2pm. We accommodate groups of up to 60 students/participants. There are no fees for field trips to Donner Memorial State Park.

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Schedule a School Field Trip or Group Reservation

Please complete this Donner School Program Request Form and contact jeremy.lin@parks.ca.gov with any questions.

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Sample Field Trip Itinerary

1000 Arrive at DMSP (introductions, snacks, and bathrooms)

1015 Split into activity groups; Rotation #1: Guided Interpretive Hike 

1115 Rotation #2: Wagons Ho!

1215 Lunch

1245 Rotation #3: Museum Exhibits Scavenger Hunt / Outdoor Activity

1345 Bathrooms and Depart

Facilities & Directions

The park is 100 miles east of Sacramento via Interstate 80, and is within the town of Truckee, just west of downtown on the south side of the freeway.

Preparation

Weather in the Sierra Nevada’s may fluctuate. Make sure to bring sun protection and an extra warm layer. Please bring water bottles and snacks/lunch. Drinking water, bathrooms, and public Wifi is available at the Visitor Center.

Logistics

  • Groups will arrive for an orientation at the Donner Visitor Center and will split up into smaller groups to rotate between activities.
  • Extreme weather may cancel field trips if transportation to/from the park is unsafe.

Chaperones

  • Chaperones are responsible for guiding participant behavior and keeping the group together and focused on the program.
  • Please bring a first aid kit for your group.

Educational Resources

Park Interpretive Content and Historic References - Donner Docent website

Donner Self-Guided Nature Loop Brochure (.5MB)

Donner Summit Historical Society

Geology

The park extends from Donner Lake up to Schallenberger Ridge to the south. Sierra Nevada's geologic history can be seen throughout the landscape:

  • The granite that rose within the crust of the earth in enormous bubbles, then cooled and hardened, to be exposed by erosion.
  • The older sedimentary rocks, transformed by temperature and pressure.
  • The Sierra's steep eastern face, created when gigantic upheavals tilted a section of the earth's crust.
  • The glaciers that dominated the area a few thousand years ago have left huge boulders and debris that remained when the ice melted.