Emigrant Trail Museum
Located at Donner Memorial State Park, the Emigrant Trail Museum recounts the history of the area and the people who came into this part of the Sierra, including Native Americans and builders of the transcontinental railroad, through dioramas and artifacts. The museum also tells the story about the ill-fated Donner Party; a slide show details the party’s plight.
Surrounding the Emigrant Trail Museum, Donner Memorial Park offers a plethora of summer activities including camping, picnicking, boating, and hiking. In winter, you can cross-country ski and snowshoe on the trails, while taking in the dramatic winter vistas. Also here is the Pioneer Monument, which was built to commemorate the pioneers who immigrated to California in the late 19th century.
The Emigrant Trail Museum lies 90 minutes north of Lake Tahoe. To get here, take Interstate 89 North to Interstate 80 West. Get off at exit 185/Donner Pass Road, which will take you there. The museum takes about 1 hour to visit, and is best for kids 16 and older. The museum’s gift shop sells postcards, posters, maps, and books about the human and natural history of the area.