Emigrant-Donner Camp

Reno & Washoe County

"Gotta love this state's obsession with growing grass in the desert. I'm sure somewhere the Donners are fascinated by this same cultivation in and around Rattlesnake Mountain, particularly, the small grassy park named in their honor. Who would've thought ... right off Rio Poco ..." -- Journal Entry, September 2007

At Donner Party Park, Rio Poco Road -- Reno
* Access from S. McCarran Blvd then right onto Rio Poco Road *

Original Date Visited: 8/19/07

Signed: No

Notes: [253] Emigrant-Donner Camp isn't so much hard to access but rather hard to find for anybody unfamiliar in these parts of southeast Reno. This one requires a quick detour from the Reno's main arteries of Virginia Street and McCarran Boulevard.

- From Virginia Street, head east on S. McCarran Blvd for 3 miles past Longley Lane/Double R Blvd to Rio Poco Road. Fortunately, a stoplight at Rio Poco prevents most from missing the turn! Turn right here for a quarter mile to the green grass on your right, also named "Donner Party Park." In the past this marker used to sit next to immediate private property, but the City of Reno has since moved it to prevent issues brought up on this website.

  • Marker 253 at the base of Rattlesnake Mountain
  • Marker 253 plaque
  • Such great history here at the base of the mountain!

Exact Description:
Upon entering the Truckee Meadows along the Truckee River thousands of California-bound emigrants turned their wagons southwest to avoid extensive marshes and uncrossable sloughs. Here at the base of Rattlesnake Mountain the emigrants established a campground which extended nearly two miles to the east and west, one half mile north and south. Numerous local springs furnished quality water and the protected location of the camp provided an ideal locale for a rest stop after hundreds of grueling miles spent traversing the Humboldt River Valley. Once rested the emigrants turned west to face their last major obstacle, the Sierra Nevadas.

In October of 1846, the ill-fated Donner Party spent five days in this area resting and grazing their weary animals. Plagued by a series of unfortunate incidents one member of the party, William Pike, was accidentally shot, died and was buried in the vicinity.

Marker 253 before its re-dedication. Photo taken in 2008.

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Related Links & Markers:

The Haunted Marker of Southeast Reno CA SHL 134 - Donner Memorial Park

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