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Sierra Nevada Museums

Sierra Nevada Museums Overview

High Sierras

Sierra Nevada Museums include the Emigrant Trail Museum, KidZone Museum, Winter Olympics Exhibit, Gatekeeper's Cabin, Watson Cabin Living Museum, Yosemite Museum, Wawona Pioneer History Center, Bodie Ghost Town, Old Schoolhouse Museum and Mammoth Ski Museum. From Lake Tahoe to Mammoth Lakes and Truckee to Yosemite, discover an interesting museum in the Sierras.

Truckee Museums

Old Jail Museum is located off Interstate 80 from Lincoln Highway. It's housed in an historic jail that was used from 1875 to 1964. Notorious characters that have spent time in the 'Bastille' include Baby Face Nelson, Ma Spinelli and Machine Gun Kelly. Exhibits focus on local history of lumbering, ice harvesting, film, gambling and bootlegging.

Old Jail Museum
10142 Jibboom Street
Truckee, California 96161
(530) 582-0893

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KidZone Museum is located off Interstate 80 from the Highway 89 junction. Focus is on a child's development of social, imaginative, physical and problem solving skills. Exhibits include an Art Studio, Jungle Gym and Exploration Station.

KidZone Museum
11711 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, CA 96161
(530) 587-5437

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Emigrant Trail Museum is located in Donner Memorial State Park of Interstate 80. They feature exhibits on Native Americans, early pioneers, the Donner Party and more. Thousands of people migrated to California during the gold rush including the ill fated Donner Party. Learn how snow was a huge hurdle in bringing the transcontinental railroad through the Sierras and the achievements made in getting trains through. Pioneer Monument is a short distance away and marks the location of one of the Donner Party's camps. The Donner Lake region offers plenty of recreational activities including fishing, boating, camping and hiking.

Emigrant Trail Museum
12593 Donner Pass Road
Truckee, California 96161
(530) 582-7892

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Western SkiSport Museum is located off Interstate 80 west of Truckee. Operated by the Auburn Ski Club and situated at the Boreal Ski Resort, they showcase the history of snow sports including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and downhill skiing. Exhibit topics include the 1960 Winter Olympics, mail carrier Snowshoe Thompson, 10th Mountain Division, Western Ski Hall of Fame, early ski resorts and more.

Western SkiSport Museum
19865 Boreal Ridge Road
Soda Springs, CA 95728
(530) 426-3313

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Lake Tahoe Museums

Gatekeeper's Cabin

Gatekeeper's Cabin is a reconstruction of an early Tahoe cabin and features a Native American basket collection. The cabin was originally used by the Gatekeeper who controlled the flow of water out of Lake Tahoe. Artifacts include historical photographs, period clothing, maps, documents and artifacts. The Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum is part of the Gatekeeper's Cabin and houses a phenomenal collection of baskets, pottery, jewelry, clothing and tools from Indian tribes throughout California and North America.

Gatekeeper's Cabin
Marion Steinbach Indian Basket Museum
130 West Lake Boulevard
Tahoe City, California 96145
(530) 583-1762

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Squaw Valley Olympic Ice Rink

Winter Olympics Museum is located mid-mountain at Squaw Valley. Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics and all kinds of memorabilia from the event can be found in the museum. They even have an Olympic podium that the bronze, silver and gold winners once stood upon to receive their medals. Take time to rent ice skates and skim across the Olympic-sized ice arena with astounding panoramic views of the Lake Tahoe region. Other amenities found at High Camp include a huge heated swimming lagoon, hot tubs, restaurants and shops. High Camp is only accessible by ski gondola.

Squaw Valley USA
Winter Olympics Exhibit
1960 Squaw Valley Road
Olympic Valley, California 96146
(530) 583-6985

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Watson Cabin Living Museum is located off Highway 28 near Grove Street. Situated lakeside, this 1908 home was the first built in Tahoe City and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Watson's were one of the first year-round residents of Lake Tahoe. The home is furnished and decorated in turn of the century fashion, offering a glimpse into the lives of the early pioneers.

Watson Cabin Living Museum
560 North Lake Boulevard
Tahoe City, California 96145
(530) 583-8717

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Tahoe Maritime Museum is located off Highway 89 in Homewood. Situated lakeside, focus is on the history of Lake Tahoe including prohibition, pleasure boating, tourism and more. More than 30 vessels are on display from steam-powered boats to works of art like Chris Crafts and Gar Woods that have almost become synonymous with Lake Tahoe. Other exhibits include a raised sunken vessel, boat engines, motors and historic photographs.

Tahoe Maritime Museum
5205 W Lake Blvd
Homewood, CA 96141
(530) 525-9253

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Markleeville Museums

Alpine County Museum is located off Highway 89 in Markleeville. It documents the history of mining, logging, dairy, cattle, sheep ranching, mountain men and Native Americans in the Markleeville region. Exhibits include a stamp mill, thresher machine, Washoe Indian art, paintings and original structures.

Alpine County Museum
Highway 89
Markleeville, California 96120
(530) 694-2317

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Yosemite Museums

Yosemite Museum is located in Yosemite Village in the heart of Yosemite Valley. Situated in an historic building from 1925, it focuses on cultures and activities within Yosemite National Park. Exhibits include Miwok & Paiute Indian artifacts, vintage climbing equipment, photographs and more. Behind the museum is the Indian Village of Ahwahnee, a replica Miwok village.

Yosemite Museum
Village Drive
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
No Phone

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Nature Center at Happy Isles is located at the very back of Yosemite Valley from Southside Drive. Perched precariously below Glacier Point, the Nature Center at Happy Isles features exhibits on natural history, geology and wildlife. It documents the history of a 1996 rock slide. Situated at the trailhead for Nevada and Vernal Falls.

Nature Center at Happy Isles
Happy Isle Loop Road
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
No Phone

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Wawona Pioneer History Center

Wawona Pioneer History Center is located near the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park off Highway 41. It features historic buildings, a covered bridge and a collection of wagons and other early pioneer equipment.

Wawona Pioneer History Center
Forest Drive
Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
No Phone

Map  |   Hotel  |   No Website  |   Other Ideas


Southern Yosemite Museums

Sierra Mono Museum is located south of Yosemite National Park off Highway 41 from either Bass Lake Road or North Fork Road. The museum preserves the history of the Mono Indians and the Central Sierra Nevadas. Museum exhibits include one of California's largest collections of Native American baskets, cultural artifacts, bead work, photographs and weapons. See the Tettleton Wildlife Diorama Collection consisting of more than 100 freestanding taxidermy animals of North America and Asia. The museum gift shop sells Native American souvenirs like arrowheads, jewelry, musical instruments and more.

Sierra Mono Museum
33103 Road 228
North Fork, CA 93643
(559) 877-2155

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Fresno Flats is located off Highway 41 from Crane Valley Road in Oakhurst. Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park is a recreation of 19th Century life in the Sierra Nevada foothills. The museum complex is built around several restored and furnished buildings dating back to the 1870s when Oakhurst was known as Fresno Flats.

Fresno Flats Historic Village and Park
49777 High School Road
Oakhurst, CA 93644
(559) 683-6570

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Children's Museum of the Sierra is located off Highway 41 from Golden Oak Loop. This children's museum is a hands-on learning facility that explores the ocean, medicine, archeology, space, wildlife and more. Children can drive a fire truck, work at a bank, run a pizza joint and perform in a play.

Children's Museum of the Sierra
49269 Golden Oak Drive
Suite 104
Oakhurst, CA 93644
(559) 658-5656

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


The Central Sierra Historical Society maintains a museum off Highway 168 at Shaver Lake. Situated near Camp Edison, the history museum features indoor and nearby outdoor exhibits including a steam donkey, powerhouse, Native American dwellings, train caboose and more. Enjoy an interpretive hike through the pine trees, boat tour of Shaver Lake, live music in their amphitheater and many other events.

Central Sierra Historical Society
42642 Tollhouse Road
Shaver Lake, CA 93664
(559) 841-4478

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Bridgeport Museums

Mono County Museum is located off Interstate 395 from School Street. Situated in the original 1880 Bridgeport Schoolhouse, it features a plethora of artifacts from early Bridgeport Valley settlers and an impressive collection of Paiute Indian baskets.

Mono County Museum
129 Emigrant Street
Bridgeport, CA 93517
(760) 932-5281

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Bodie Ghost Town

Bodie Ghost Town is located off Highway 395 between Lee Vining and Bridgeport. What a cool place this is, and definitely California's best ghost town. Tucked in the High Sierra foothills, this town of 20 grew to a thriving city when gold was discovered in 1877. Within a few short years the gold ran out and the town was completely abandoned. The goldmine employed thousands and stories of rampant gun fights followed. Buildings from the original town and mine still exist in a state of decay. Original furniture and stocked shelves were left as they were found. A cemetery remains up on a hill outside of town and tells a tale of the harsh winters miners experienced. If your travels take you anywhere near Bodie, this is a must see.

TIP: It's about a 12 mile drive from the 395 on Highway 270 to Bodie. The last 3 miles of which are dirt and gravel. Although the park is open year round, winter and early spring are not recommended due to snow and mud hazards.

Bodie State Park
Bridgeport, California 93517
(760) 647-6445

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Lee Vining Museums

Old Schoolhouse Museum is located off Interstate 395 from 1st Street. Situated inside Mono Lake's Old Schoolhouse, it focuses on the history and cultures of the Mono Basin. Exhibits include farming & mining equipment, Native American artifacts, gold mining implements and more. Of special interest is the 'Upside-Down House'.

Old Schoolhouse Museum
1st Street and Mattly Avenue
Lee Vining, California 93541
(760) 647-6461

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


Mammoth Museum

Mammoth Ski Museum is located off Interstate 395 from Highway 203. Exhibits include vintage photography documenting the history of downhill skiing.

Mammoth Ski Museum
100 College Parkway
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
(760) 934-6592

Map  |   Hotel  |   Website  |   Other Ideas


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