School Field Trip & Group Reservations
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.
Schedule a School Field Trip or Group Reservation
Please complete this Donner School Program Request Form and contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
PORTS Virtual Programs
PORTS (Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students) Program is a FREE distance learning program with California State Parks!
PORTS uses the power of videoconferencing to support K-12 educators in designing deep and meaningful learning experiences in virtual and in-person classrooms.
The Donner Party of 1846: Explore the region where the famous Donner Party spent the tragic winter of 1846 with a California State Park Interpreter. We will highlight the California emigrant experience and other important natural and cultural features of Donner Memorial State Park.
PORTS Home Learning Program - Join our California State Parks Interpretive Specialist to learn about the Donner Party of 1846 in this free, live public broadcast.
PORTS On Demand - Schedule an interactive virtual presentation with your class or group with a California State Parks Interpreter to learn about the Donner Party of 1846.
Sample In-person 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!
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.
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.
- 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 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.
Park Interpretive Content and Historic References - Donner Docent website
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.