Alder Creek Donner Camp

Perhaps no family suffered more during the horrors of the winter of 1846-47 than the Donner family. The Donner Party was made up of many families, trying to make it to California’s bountiful Central Valley.

George Donner was elected the leader of the party, and now the party, lake and pass now bears his name. Seven members out of 25 of the Donner clan perished in that winter of record breaking snowfall. But they did not camp with the others on the eastern shore of Truckee Lake (now Donner Lake) but because of a broken wagon axel, they stopped for the winter in the Alder Creek Valley, six miles from the lake that now bears their name.

The site of the Donner Camp with a tree that was later planted by the Donner survivors.

The list of those who survived and those who perished at the Alder Creek camp site.

The area now is peaceful and if it wasn’t for the signs on the interpretive loop trail, you would never know of the horrors that the Donner family suffered in the winter of 1846-47 with he record amount of snowfall that winter. There is very loyal evidence of the camp. Tree stumps that were visible at the beginning of the 20th century are all gone.

An interpretive sign at the start of the trail with the ominous title, “The Nightmare Begins”.

In a pioneer group infamously known for it’s cannibalism, there is a deep sense of irony that the location of the doomed Donner camp at Alder Creek is now know as the Donner Party Picnic Area.

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Pioneer Monument on the eastern side of Donner Lake.

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