Donner Lake Safari Logo

Summer

Donner Hot Springs

Icy Hot Days of Summer

Whoever said that opposites attract obviously had the Truckee Ice Caves and Donner Hot Springs in mind. We start off this tour with a spot of spelunking in Tahoe's only ice caves--caves that retain ice year-round. Wear your dirtiest clothes for this one, because to get to the final chamber you'll be squirming your way through pitch black tunnels. Back above ground, you'll learn about the fascinating Native American history of the caves as we eat lunch with a breath-taking view of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows from an angle you've never seen before. After lunch we'll hop in the DLSafarimobile and head over to the Donner Hot Springs, on the west end of Donner Lake. Here you can relax and wash away the mud from the caves as you take in another gorgeous view--this time of Donner Summit.

Habitat for the elusive Mountain Beaver

Nature Safari

This is a true safari experience! Explore the Donner Lake backcountry from the comfort of our customized Land Cruiser, the DLSafarimobile. Intimate groups and knowledgeable guides means you're guaranteed to see things you never knew existed. Tours begin on Donner Lake with a brief discussion of regional geology and natural history. From the lake we'll tour through a maze of dirt roads deep into Coldstream Canyon. Whether your interest is flora or fauna, we've got a surprise in store—safari stops include a black bear hibernation den, the hunting grounds of the rare Donner Panther, a fossilized yeti footprint, the mysterious dwarf forest, and much more. We'll lunch on top of Tinker's Knob, with amazing 360° views from the crest of the Sierra Nevada. During the afternoon, enjoy a round of good old-fashioned grouse hunting! And don't forget your swimsuits, because at the end of the day we'll stop for a soak in the elusive Donner hot springs!

Wakeskating

Water World

The "Water World" tour packs a lot of excitement into one day! After organic breakfast snacks and introductions, we'll caravan over to China Cove on the south shore of Donner Lake. Rumor has it that during the construction of the railroad in the mid-1800s hundreds of Chinese laborers were "buried" in Donner Lake. Thanks to a thermocline at 157ft, the bodies of these poor souls have been preserved. So strap on your SNUBA gear and see for yourself! SNUBA is like SCUBA except it involves less equipment and more fun—you don't even need to be certified! We'll break at noon to catch lunch: the famous mackinaw, or lake, trout. Learn how to use fish finders and fancy lures to bag one of these behemoths. After a satisfyingly hard-earned lunch we'll relax with some good old-fashioned winch wakeskating. Ride the wake right into shore, where we'll begin our underwater scavenger hunt. The treasure? A cooler full of cold ones to enjoy on the dock as we watch the sunset over Donner Pass.

Abandoned train tunnel turned luge course

DLS Extreme Shot: Summer

If sunbathing on a lakeside dock seems a bit dull, we've got just the tour for you: the DLS Extreme Shot! An invigorating 4am meeting time ensures that all tour participants are far from well rested, and potentially even still intoxicated. After introductions and a quick Red Bull shotgun contest, we'll pile in the DLSafarimobile and head up to the famous Tunnel #6 for a round of "slingshot". Slingshot involves being strapped on a luge and shot through the tunnel on DLS's custom track. If you love flying through pitch black while feeling disoriented and out of control at 47 mph, then Slingshot is your game! From the other side of Tunnel #6 we'll continue up into the nether regions of Coldstream Canyon, where we will reenact the famous Donner Party Shotput Competition of 1846. Depending on conditions, bear wrestling is occasionally available here. After a quick round of shot-skis, you'll suit up at the DLS Zorbing Center. Our critically acclaimed zorbing course takes you on a scenic route from the Pacific Crest down to the south end of Donner Lake. Although you won't have time to watch the scenery as you zorb through the pines and over granite cliffs! By the time you reach the lake, it'll be time for another drink and a quick round of target shooting


SPECIAL FALL OFFERING: Until the Snow Falls...

Ice Biking on Marlette Lake

The Best of Tahoe Ice

There may be no snow in Tahoe yet, but the season is always ideal for safaris! In fact, the snowless winter we've had so far has provided a unique opportunity to enjoy frozen lakes in the Sierra. Reserve a spot now for one of our limited "Until the Snow Falls" ice tours. We'll meet up over an organic, hot breakfast while testing your mettle with a special ice cube challenge. After eating, we will head off to tour various icy wonderlands, depending on the conditions. Ice skating, with lessons from local pro Apollo Uribe, is a given. Depending on group interest, other available activities include ice biking, and ice sailing. At the end of the day we'll take you ice fishing, where you can warm up and have a snack and a drink in our luxurious mobile ice shack while watching for bites on your line. So keep praying for snow, but in the meantime, book a DLS tour of Tahoe's Best Ice!


Winter

Coldstream Valley, looking at the Pacific Crest

Natural History Nordical

Enjoy an active day in the front country of gorgeous Coldstream Canyon. We'll suit up with cross-country skis for a tour of the valley, including dramatic icefalls, tranquil forests, and stunning viewpoints. Along the way we'll also have several breaks to learn about snow science, conifers of the area, and winter animal tracking. Our delicious home-cooked lunch at the Lost Trail Lodge features local specialty dishes such as Beaver Stew, and Miner's Lettuce Salad with Rawhide Crisps. After lunch we'll observe black bears in their quiet hibernation. Then we'll ski back to the DLS Headquarters, where you can pat yourself on the back and savor a steaming hot cup of tea next to the fire.


Uphill tobogganing

The Lost Tour

Too many good ideas lose momentum and are pushed to the sidelines, or even lost forever. This is a tour to memorialize several of those ideas. We'll begin with dogsledding, followed by biathlon and uphill tobogganing. You will then break up into teams for a game of broomball (ice hockey without the skates). After a lunch break featuring lost foods—including mush, Junk-it, head cheese, and ambrosia—we'll go down to the lake for stilt skating. In 2007, stilt skating contributed to the death of a man on Donner, but with our specially developed "IcyLung" safety system you don't need to be concerned. Don't wear yourself out skating, because the Snowshoe Thompson Memorial Mail Relay finishes out our day!


Catching a little air on the tubing course

DLS Extreme Shot: Winter

If you've got the itch for some good old-fashioned stoopid fun, join the party with the DLS Extreme Shot tour! We'll warm up with a round of "Slingshot." Slingshot involves being strapped on a luge and shot through the historic train tunnel #6 on DLS's custom track. If you love flying through pitch black while feeling disoriented and out of control at 47 mph, then Slingshot is your game! It's even more fun in the winter, when dodging icicles factors into the fun. If Slingshot gets your nerves up, don't worry—we've got a round of classic Truckee drop shots (Sierra Nevada and honey whiskey) waiting for you on the far side of Tunnel #6. After a picnic lunch, you'll be extreme tubing on a course designed especially for DLS by Finnish professional tuber Risto Tallus. Depending on conditions, we will also have a series of avalanche races. Next up is the Winter Orienteering Challenge, where you will follow a series of clues to reach the finale: a DJ party BBQ, complete with the Donner Memorial Eating Contest. Drink up, because you'll be getting a ride home on the snowmobiles.