Lake Tahoe Summer Vacation with Kids near Donner and Truckee

Abandoned Union Pacific Railroad line Donner Pass


Truckee River Rafting

TreeTop Adventure Park

Prosser Creek Reservoir


There at lot of things to do in Truckee with kids in the summer. We have been going to Tahoe for several summers with our young children and here are some of my favorites. There are a lot more to add like hikes to Paradise Lake and riding the Gondola at Northstar and hiking the ridge - will add more details with time or send me comments of your favorite things and will add any other attractions you think were great with your kids. I am trying to create a definitive guide for families for North Lake Tahoe / Truckee.

Camping at Alder Creek Campground in Tahoe Donner. This is a car camping area that has great facilities, a creek and is fairly small so you don't feel overwhelmed like you do in some of the areas in Yosemite. The campground is located about 5 minutes from Downtown Truckee. You can make reservations well in advance and even with large groups. You can find more information here I wrote a hub last summer on car camping with kids which you can check out here for some things to think about when planning a trip

River Rafting on the Truckee River. The Truckee rivers flows from Lake Tahoe at Tahoe City. There are a couple of operators on the river like Truckee River Rafting You can either park your car across from the River Ranch Hotel and catch the Truckee River Raft bus to shuttle you up to Tahoe City or you can park and Tahoe City and catch the bus on the return trip from River Ranch. The ride down the river is very mellow and works fine with young children. It takes about 2.5 hours without much paddling to make the trip. There is an exciting finish through some more swift moving water but nothing that is challenging. Each group takes their own raft and paddles. You get out of the river at River Ranch. There are many places along the way to stop and swim and enjoy the Tahoe sun.

Hike to top of Tahoe Donner / Donner Ridge

Tahoe Donner is a small ski area located at the top of the Tahoe Donner development. It is a fun place to hike with the kids that is easy to get to and absolutely no crowds and provides amazing views of the Truckee River basin and mountains surrounding lake Tahoe. You can also go to many of the trailheads within the Tahoe Donner development and park (have a picnic) and hike from there. You can access a PDF of all the trails here

Abandoned Union Pacific railroad line

At the top of Donner Pass near the Donner Ski Ranch overflow parking lot is the entrance to the abandoned Union Pacific Railroad line. It is a great walk for kids as its graded for trains and you get to walk through some of the huge snow sheds built to keep avalanches and deep snow pack from stopping the trains. You can read some of the history here at Wikipedia

Donner Lake

While not nearly as large at Lake Tahoe, Donner Lake is beautiful and offers an easy option for families to enjoy the lake and the beach. The Lake is located directly below Donner Pass (see map below). If you are staying in a home at Tahoe Donner or have friends who are there is a very nice beach on the north east side of the lake the also offers boat rentals and has a snack bar. The water is slightly warmer than Lake Tahoe given that it is smaller and warms up faster in the summer, however not by much so plan to go on a hot day.

Prosser Creek Reservoir

Swimming in Tahoe is great - but it can be cold even in August. If you are looking for a natural setting where the water is warm, I highly recommend Prosser Reservoir. There are no facilities here so be prepared to bring eveything you need - including a 4 wheel drive vehicle otherwise you will want to hike down to the lake. You can drive all around the reservoir and park near the shore. It is pet friendly and just a lot of fun. The water is much warmer here as the reservoir is shallow so the water heats up more quickly in the summer. Also be aware the shore is natural and not sandy so it can get muddy depending on your location. Also be aware there are no lifeguards. We love it there and just went back again this summer.

Treetop Adventure Park Ropes Course

It is one of the more expensive activities (outside of renting a ski boat) but we went to this amazing rope and zipline course this summer for the first time. There a several courses that can handle beginners (as young as 4) up to a more challenging course for adults. It is a great activity with kids to do something different in the mountains. You can check out all the details at

TreeTop Adventure Park

Tahoe Locations

show route and directions
A markerTruckee -
Truckee, CA 96161, USA
[get directions]

B markerRiver Rafting -
River Rd, Tahoe City, CA 96146, USA
[get directions]

Truckee River Rafting

C markerAbandoned Union Pacific Railroad Tunnels -
Donner Ski Ranch, 19320 Donner Pass Rd, Truckee, CA 96161, USA
[get directions]

D markerAlder Creek Campground -
13813 Alder Creek Rd, Truckee, CA 96161, USA
[get directions]

E markerTahoe Donner Ski Area (hiking) -
Tahoe Donner Ski Areas, 11603 Snowpeak Way, Truckee, CA 96161, USA
[get directions]

F markerDonner Lake -
Donner Lake, Truckee, CA 96161, USA
[get directions]

G markerTreeTop Adventure Park -
725 Granlibakken Rd, Tahoe National Forest, Tahoe City, CA 96146, USA
[get directions]

Treetop Adventure Park

H markerProsser Dam -
Prosser Dam Rd, Truckee, CA 96161, USA
[get directions]

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Comments 1 comment

Ross cove 5 years ago

Wow your like the Julie McCoy of Tahoe donner

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