Donner Spring

June 23, 2015 - I went on a road trip to explore parts of western Utah and Nevada. One target was to visit and take photos of Donner Spring. As a Donner Party hike guide for several years (in Truckee) I had developed an interest in emigration history with a focus on the Donner Party.

Living near Park City, Utah, I have had the opportunity to explore more of the Donner Party trip through Wyoming, Utah and Nevada.

While attending a race at the Wendover Salt Flats, I spotted a sign reading "Donner Spring" at exit of I-80 for east Wendover. I drove up a few miles and did not find any more signs. Without additional information, I left Donner Spring for a future trip.

I was surprised to see that the Bidwell-Bartleson party (1841) and Captain Fremont (1845) had visited the spring. has more information on Pilot Peak and the early visitors.

The direction to the spring was 22 mi. N. Wendover, Road N. from Exit 4 of I-80. The first 8 miles are paved and turn west back into Nevada. Turning east, the road crosses back into Utah and the road becomes dirt.

This was the only road marker along the dirt road, complete with bullet holes. Note all photos are resized for this page. If you click the image the original full-sized image will open in a new window or tab to see more detail.

Roadside Sign

And this was the Utah sign about the travelers:

California West Sign

At the 22 mile mark I stopped and looked for the spring. There was no marking or signs visible from the dirt road. Looking ahead there were no other obvious locations with trees to indicate water.

This was the view from the road looking about south. The spring is behind the trees, to the west (right) of the building in the background. The gates on the ranch were open so you could drive down to a small parking lot near the spring.

Donner Spring from the road

A ranch hand came up from below using an ATV. I asked him about Donner Spring, and he pointed me down the road through the ranch buildings to behind the brown building on the right side. If I had not found him, I may not have found the spring.

Overview of the spring:



Donner Spring Entrance

These are the 3 signs inside the area:

Sign 1

Sign 2

Sign 3

View of the spring:

Donner Spring Closeup

Donner Spring

Other links of interest:

Developed by Colin Gilboy -