Selection of the Best Campgrounds is based on a combination of campground facilities, campground ambiance, and the proximity of outstanding recreational opportunities. The ratings are intended to serve as a general guide and may not always concur with the interests and experiences of others.
Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center
Opened in 2015, the new Visitor Center at Donner Memorial State Park features a wonderful collection of exhibits which trace the history of the area from the days of the Washoe Native Americans through the emigrant experience, the building of the transcontinental railroad, and early motoring adventures over the pass.
Since Donner Lake was the winter campsite for some members of the ill-fated Donner Party of 1846, the Visitor Center and surrounding grounds of the park provide information about the events that resulted in the emigrants becoming stranded there in winter snow, their struggle to survive, and of the rescue of the survivors.
Truckee - Jackson Meadows Area Campgrounds
All the campgrounds around Jackson Meadows Reservoir make great camping destinations. Those closer to recreation facilities earned higher ratings. Stampede Reservoir is an excellent fishing and boating lake. The forest at Stampede is more arid than around Jackson Meadows. Donner Memorial State Park Campground is located in one of the most beautiful settings in the Sierra.
Two group camps, a horse camp, and a boat-in campground are found at Jackson Meadows Reservoir. Another good group camp is located at Stampede Reservoir.
Most of the campgrounds in the Truckee and Jackson Meadows area are focused around lakes. Three major lakes are accompanied by outstanding campgrounds - Donner Lake, Stampede Reservoir, and Jackson Meadows Reservoir all have wonderful opportunities for boating.
Donner Lake is popular for fishing and boating. On a typical summer day, the lake will be dotted with sailboats, waterskiers, stand-up paddleboarders, rowers, windsurfers, jet skiers, anglers, and kayakers. A public boat launch ramp at the northwest end of the lake provides easy access to the water. Donner Lake Watersports offers boat rentals at two locations on the lake.
Stampede Reservoir features a broad expanse of water popular with anglers seeking Kokanee salmon. with waterskiers who like plenty of space, and with sailors who appreciate the steady afternoon breeze. Other than some boat ramps, there are no marinas. Boaters arrive well-supplied with fuel.
Jackson Meadows Reservoir is a favorite family camping destination. Beautiful campsites are located on several sides of the lake. Launch ramps at either end offer quick access to the water. Again, there are no marinas, so boaters come supplied with fuel and anything else they might need.