Native Americans crossed Donner Summit for thousands of years moving from the lower elevations on either side of the Sierra to the higher elevations in summers. They followed the game to the better climate and veritable cornucopia that is Donner Summit in summers. There were encampments in Summit Valley where the Native Americans lived in summers.

There are dozens of grinding stones, mortars and metates where food was prepared. There are thousands of basalt flakes from the knapping (production) of projectile points still visible today.