Nevada County, Northern California

Donner Lake

Donner Lake

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Recreation Opportunities Near
Donner Lake


Photo of Donner Lake

Donner Lake

Donner Lake is tucked up against the eastern side of Donner Pass. It was there in 1846-47 that the ill-fated Donner Party suffered through the winter. Today it is a popular recreation destination, known for its great fishing, beautiful scenery, and convenient location. Donner Memorial State Park spreads along a portion of the lake's shoreline, offering many wonderful attractions. Entrance fee for the park is $8 per vehicle.

Donner Lake rests alongside Interstate 80 only 34 miles from Reno, 100 from Sacramento, and 17 from Lake Tahoe.


Donner Lake is popular with sailors, water skiers, jet skiers, and those who just enjoy cruising its pristine water. The lake has a 35 MPH speed limit. Windsurfers enjoy the lake along with boaters in canoes and kayaks. The North shore of the Lake has 1.5 miles sporting over 30 public docks for boaters and swimmers.


Donner Lake has a public boat ramp at the northwest corner of the lake. There is a marina adjacent to the ramp. At the eastern end of the lake are boat rentals.


Anglers at Donner Lake go after Kokanee salmon along with Mackinaw, rainbow, and brown trout. A fishing dock is located on the north shore at Shoreline Park.


Donner Memorial Park at the east end of the lake has more than 150 campsites. National Forest campgrounds are located nearby along the Truckee River and to the northeast at Boca Reserervoir. A couple of RV parks can be found in Truckee.


Donner Lake has a number of resorts located at the lake, while more lodging, including some bed and breakfasts, can be found in nearby Truckee. Cabin rentals are always a good way to enjoy a stay at the lake for families or small groups of friends.


Donner Lake is among the most beautiful of California's leading recreation lakes. A dense pine forest surrounds the lake, while rows of picturesque mountains rise in the distance. Donner Lake has a special ambiance that can't be measured by the number of marinas or resorts. It's a place that people come to feel a part of, a place they return to year after year.

Nearby Communities

Donner Lake has about 1,500 full time residents, most of whom live at the northeast end of the lake. Many vacation homes are located in the vicinity. The closest town is Truckee, only 3 miles to the east. Reno is hardly a half hour's drive east along Interstate 80.


Donner Lake Facts
Lake Size: 960 surface acres
Maximum Depth: 328 feet
Length: 3 miles
Shoreline: 8 miles
Maximum Lake Elevation: 5936 feet
Average Air Temperatures
  spring: 65 degrees
  summer: 79 degrees
  fall: 69 degrees
  winter: 40 degrees
Summer Water Temperature: 73 degrees

Photo of fishermen at Donner Lake