Donner Lake is an area occupied by both primary and secondary home owners who enjoy being at the lake. Most lots average ¼ acre. And, most homes are within walking distance of the lake. There are a number of small subdivisions of homes around Donner Lake with one of the newest subdivisions being Wolfe Estates at the west end of the Lake. Wolfe Estates home-sites are a little larger than most of the others around Donner Lake. And, there are a few condo homes in the Donner Lake area at the west end of the lake.

Donner Lake, also known as “The Gem of the Sierra,” sits at 6000 feet in elevation, is 3 miles long, 3/4 mile wide and 200 feet deep. History buffs and nature seekers often are drawn to Donner Lake – an area bordered by the Donner Memorial State Park on the east and Donner Summit on the west and includes a public campground.

Interstate 80 parallels Donner Lake providing easy access in or out of the area. Up Old Highway 40 are the historic China Wall and the Donner Summit Bridge, which is a favorite area for rock climbing. At the west end of the lake, the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District maintains West End beach for public use with lifeguards, tennis courts, basketball courts, sand volleyball courts, a snack bar, barbecues and playground equipment. At the east end of the lake is a dog-friendly beach and a great place to picnic. The east end beach is accessed through the Donner Memorial State Park.

Donner Lake offers several public docks for summer recreation. There is a public boat launch near the west end of the lake. There is also a property owner's beach at the west end of the lake, of which many property owners may be eligible to join, depending on the location of their property.

Subdivisions of the Donner Lake area include these subdivisions, to name a few: C F McGlashan, Creekside Woods, Donner Heights, Donner Lake Tract, Donner Lake Villa, Donner Lake Village, Donner Lake Woods, Donner Pines West and Donner Pines East, Donner Woods, Emmons Tract, Southside Highlands, Summit Creek Meadows, The Cabins, Tinkers Landing, Waltz Tract, Weeks Tract, Wolfe Estates

Donner Summit is the name given to an area west of Truckee, outside of Truckee town limits, at approximately 6800 feet in elevation. The actual elevation of Donner Summit is over 7200 feet in elevation. It can receive considerably more snow than Truckee in the wintertime because of the altitude difference. There are several ski resorts located in this area including Sugar Bowl, Boreal, Donner Ski Ranch, Soda Springs, and Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Area—the largest cross-country ski facility in North America.

Subdivisions in the Donner Summit area include: Serene Lakes, Boreal Village, Cisco Crove, Donner Ski Ranch, Kingvale, Norden, Pla Vada, Soda Springs Station, Soda Springs, Towle Mountain