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Donner Abandon Tunnels
Next Ride: None Scheduled

If you're idea of adventure includes exploring historic routes, mountain passes and spooky places, then this is the adventure you've been looking for. Donner Abandon Tunnels Adventure ride begons on curvy two-lane back roads through the foothils to twisty curvy canyon roads to remote dirt wagon roads to the Sierra Crest. From a forest covered ridge your adventure descends down a twisty curvy canyon road to the American River below. After crossing the river the ride climbs up a steep twisty curvy ridge high above the American River canyon.


From the top of the ridge the pavement ends and the off-road adventure begins as this dual sport ride explores a remote historic dirt wagon route through the mountains which provides spectacular views around every corner. After exploring the historic dirt wagon route the ride passes by the crystal blue water of Serene Lake then reaches the historic abandon Donner Summit Tunnels. The historic steel rail tracks have been removed from the tunnels so, all that's left is the gravel and original granite carved tunnels that were constructed in the 1800s by men who risked their lives and many who died in the very dangerous work of blasting through solid granite mountains. This unique dual sport adventure ride cannot be fully appreciated without understanding the history behind the construction of the first Transcontinental Railroad.


The history of the Transcontinental Railroad goes back to when it was just a dream and this grand idea was proposed for the planning of the Pacific Railroad in 1838. The Pacific Railroad proposed their plan to congress but congress could not decide on a route because the northerners wanted a northern route and the southerners wanted a southern route.


The discovery of gold on the American River in 1848 resulted in the largest migration in human history with the promise of 'free gold' in California. During 1849 over 55,000 people traveled overland routes and many thousands by sea. With so many people now heading west, travel and trade across the country suddenly became more important and the need for a transcontinental railroad suddenly became a priority. Congress still could not decide on a route, so they sent five surveying teams out in 1853 to explore possible railroad routes to the Gold Country. California desperately needed railroads to replace the mule teams, stage coaches, and steamboats on which the entire economy was dependent on, so the first railroad (the Sacramento Valley Railroad) was started in 1854. 'Big Four'; Leland Stanford, Collis P. Huntington, Mark Hopkins and Charles Crocker were brought together in 1861 by Theodore Judah to form the Central Pacific Railroad. Ground breaking to signify the beginning of work on the Central Pacific took place in Sacramento on January 8th, 1863 and the route they were to take was the one laid out by Theodore Judah many years before, when he had surveyed the Sierra Nevada. Although the beginning of construction took place in relatively flat land, labor and financial problems were resulting in slow progress with only 600 workers instead of the original plan for over 5,000 workers.


The answer to the lack of workers was solved when the Chinese labors were hired in 1865, after Charles Crocker pointed out, 'the Chinese made the Great Wall didn't they?' Donner Summit Tunnels of the Central Pacific Railroad became the most difficult section by far of the nation's first transcontinental railroad. It is an epic tale, for the builders of the Central Pacific that had no convenient pass such as the Rockies that afforded the Union Pacific for its leg of the transcontinental line. Instead, they were confronted by the Sierra Nevada's seemingly impassible granite spires. It is the story of a battle fought by a small group of men who earned victory by thorough planning, persistent effort, and willingness to carry on against desperate and largely unknown odds. Abandoned Donner Summit Tunnels were constructed by men who risked their lives and many who perished in the very dangerous work of blasting granite, laying ties over treacherous terrain and being lowered by ropes from the top of cliffs in small baskets to chip away at the granite and plant explosives. The abandoned tunnels on this historic route have stood the test of time and remain as monuments to the workers who risked their lives to construct the most difficult section of the Transcontinental Railroad.


Single-Day Ride

This dual sport adventure ride is perfect for medium to large dual sport adventure bikes.
Off-road terrain is rated "mild to moderate" with some challenging and lots of history and adventure.
Ride distance 225+ miles round trip (75+ miles dirt road)
One gas stop (125 mile range required)
Bring water & pack a Lunch

*more details listed under "Book this Ride"

Note: Donner Abandon Tunnels are "CLOSED" to motorized vehicles.

Donner Abandon Tunnels
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Available Dates

Date Selected: December 31st 1969

Cost: $Open Spots: Ride Days:
Additional Info:
There are no more open spots for this event, please select another date if available.
You must agree to the terms and conditions before you can register for this event.
Please print the waiver and bring it with you to this event.
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Registrant Information
Motorcycle Tours, Terms and Conditions:

Riders will be required to carry a valid U.S. or similar International drivers license with valid motorcycle license endorsement.
Riders must demonstrate solid riding ability.
Riders must be at least 21 years of age.
Helmets are required by law and must be worn by all riders.

Booking Requirements:
Tours: You will be responsible for your own motorcycle, food, gas, & lodging costs and any incidentals along the way.

Payments for the tour can be made in U.S. funds by VISA / MasterCard / AMEX / Discover. If completing the registration on-line, please remember to print and complete the waiver and bring it with you to the event. Tours require payment in full with registration.

Cancellation Policy:
Payment for the Tours is due at time of registration. There are no refunds 0-14 days before departure. If you do need to cancel, we would be happy to apply your payment to a future tour. There will be no refunds for unused services or accommodations once the tour has started. If you cancel a Tour 14 days or less prior to the tour date, there will be a $25 cancellation fee. There are no refunds if you cancel 72 hours or less prior to the tour, however tour fees can be applied to future tours. We rarely cancel or postpone a trip, but we reserve the right to do so when necessary: due to dangerous weather conditions or other reasons beyond our control. In the event of such an occurrence, we will refund your fees or apply them to another trip, but we are not responsible for any travel expenses incurred.

Travel Insurance:
Participants are responsible for their own medical insurance.

Storing unneeded luggage or gear:
If you are coming in the region with more gear than you can carry on your bike, or possibly are on an extended vacation, it's commonplace to locate a place to store this extra gear. If you are renting a motorcycle, typically the rental facility will be more than happy to store your luggage or spare gear. This is also commonplace with area hotels. Arrive a day early at your local lodging facility and request they store your extra gear. They'll be happy to comply.

Meals are NOT included in the tour cost so please bring some extra money to be able to partake in the restaurant’s the group will frequent. What is commonplace on the rides is the participants all split the ticket, or simply get separate tickets.

Overnight Tours: Lodging is always pre-booked for you. However, you will be responsible for your lodging costs. Sierra Nevada Adventures Motorcycle Tours will reserve a block of rooms for our tour participants months in advance. Our lodging typically is in Best Western or Holiday Inn type motels that have a pool and jacuzzi, and typically are within walking distance to our dinner destination. Costs range $70-$150 per night depending on the region of California we are in.

Arriving early:
If you are arriving the day prior to the tour, refer to the tour description for a link to a local recommended lodging facility near the launch point for the tour. If you are traveling some distance to reach the launch point, arriving the night prior will ensure you're fresh and ready to ride Friday morning!

When riding in California, we highly recommend that you dress in layers, to adjust to change of weather. In addition, Sierra Nevada Adventures Tours strongly recommends you wear motorcycle specific protective gear while riding a motorcycle. Temperatures during California summers are warm, although the variety of terrain covered in your tours will experience a wide range of temperature and weather conditions.

Tour Safety:
Helmets are required by law in California and Nevada. Tour participants are responsible for any traffic violations they might incur during the tour. Alcohol or drug use during the course of the tour is not permitted under any circumstance or while riding the motorcycle. Over-consumption of alcohol during our evening stop-overs is discouraged also, though we want everyone to have a good time!

California Weather:
The weather in California is often rather predictable during the summer months, namely six months straight of sunshine. Our tour dates are chosen to take advantage of our beautiful summer days, but despite our best efforts, we cannot control the weather, so please come prepared for the possibility of spring/ fall rain showers or summer heat as we will be covering a wide range of climates from high mountain elevations, to coastal areas. Sierra Nevada Adventures Tours reserves the right to make modifications to the tour at any time for any reason.

Bringing your own bike:
The majority of riders on Sierra Nevada Adventures Tours ride their own motorcycles. Sierra Nevada Adventures Tours is by no means a brand specific company. We welcome all makes of motorcycles and tour participants from all walks of life. We only ask if you bring your own motorcycle to ensure you have a new, or nearly new, set of tires and have your motorcycle in excellent running condition. Please ensure your motorcycle is ready to make a week long tour or more. Also consider obtaining some type of road side service for your motorcycle prior to arriving for your tour. You also might find it convenient to trailer your motorcycle to our starting point. If you need a place to store your vehicle and trailer, we can accommodate you provided you're arriving the day before the tour date.

Shipping your own bike:
Often, shipping your bike to your tour destination will about equal the price of a rental bike- however, you'll need to be in California at least 7-9 days to break even. If you plan on riding for a month, it will be cheaper to ship your bike across the domestic United States. Shippers may also require extended shipping times. For example, here for a month? Your shipper may require 2 weeks on the front side, and 2 weeks on the backside of your trip. Motorcycles normally ship uncrated with minimal fuel and are transported business to business. Our rental facilities will be more than happy to receive your motorcycle and have it ready when you arrive. If you would feel more comfortable aboard your own motorcycle, our helpful staff is happy to aid you with this option. We have also seen shippers deliver to dealers also to add to helping you providing a commercial setting to receive your bike.

Renting a motorcycle:
Sierra Nevada Adventures Tours does not rent motorcycles. However, we are more than happy to aid you in your rental process. BMW's and KTM’s dual sport adventure motorcycles are readily available in the San Francisco Bay Area. To ensure you get the bike you want, reserve at least 3 months in advance. Call the rental facility of your choice direct to have them familiarize you with the rental process and costs. Riders will typically pick up the bike the day before the tour date, and arrange to drop it off the following morning at open of business to return the motorcycle. Contact us for questions about rental options.

Non-U.S. Residents:
You must have your passport with you at all times when renting or touring with us if you are not a permanent resident of the United States or Canada.

Flight Arrangements:
Sierra Nevada Adventures Motorcycle Tours does not, and cannot, make flight arrangements, nor is the cost of your flight or travel cost to the starting point included in the tour price.
I agree to the terms and conditions

If you choose to pay at the event please make sure not to forget a valid form of payment. You will not be able to participate in the event if you do not bring cash or a valid credit or debit card.



Donner Abandon Tunnels Ride
Total: $
Please on hit the register for event button once. You will be charged the amount shown and a copy of this invoice will be emailed to the address you registered with.
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