Parking at Donner Lake takes center stage at Town Council

Cyclists swerving around pedestrians as cars make sudden stops in search of a parking spot have become all too familiar at Donner Lake as visitors and locals flock to its beaches and docks, often overburdening infrastructure and amenities around the area.

The issue of parking on Donner Pass Road, adjacent to Donner Memorial State Park and the Tahoe Donner Beach Club properties, was taken up during Tuesday’s Truckee Town Council agenda and will now head to further review as staff has been directed to gather more information from stakeholders like the Tahoe Donner Association, California State Parks, Truckee Trails Foundation, and Truckee River Watershed Council.

Parking near Donner Memorial State Park was a problem this past summer as vehicles crowded bike lanes, creating conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists. Parking on the dirt shoulders also creates erosion, according to the town staff’s report.

The state park does offer paid parking and, according to Dan Canfield, of California State Parks, those spaces often fill up on summer weekends and holidays. Canfield said an estimated 200,000 people visit the state park each year, and added that the site’s limited parking is a way in which they restrict visitation on busy days. Though the state park has a finite amount of spaces, people parking outside of the park on the shoulder of the road this past summer resulted in trashcans overflowing and other park amenities becoming overloaded.

In response, town staff presented a number of options to alleviate the parking issue at the lake, including plans to get rid of parking along the stretch of Donner Pass Road altogether by installing boulders and signage, installing places for parallel parking, angled parking, or a combination of the two near Tahoe Donner Beach Club.

“This is actually not parking,” said Truckee Mayor Anna Klovstad about parking on the shoulder along Donner Pass Road at Donner Lake. “It’s unsanctioned parking in a right-of-way that is not paved and not intended for parking. I would also like to challenge a few of our constituents to think about that as well. We are, of course, interested in making sure that we have equitable access for our entire community … We still have to consider the fact that we should be limiting the capacity of the daily access of this resource.”

Dozens of comments came in on the subject, causing staff to request more time to work through options with stakeholders in order to create a solution that addresses pedestrian and bicycle issues while providing some parking on Donner Pass Road.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

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