Lassen Volcanic National Park
Photo © NPS Photo
Jagged volcanic peaks, otherworldly hydrothermal areas, majestic wildflower-filled meadows, and clear mountain lakes await visitors to Lassen Volcanic National Park (Lassen). Lassen is one of California's lesser known national parks, but certainly not for lack of spectacular scenery or recreational opportunities. First-time visitors to this off-the-beaten-path location are often surprised to discover the phenomenal area right in their backyard.
Lassen is home to more than 30 volcanic domes, one of which gave the Park its name. Soon after the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak, the National Park was established, and the main Park road was built to allow visitors to explore the volcanic features that lay hidden in the Park. Lassen offers visitors the opportunity to explore the largest hydrothermal (hot water) area west of Yellowstone National Park. Colorful, bubbling wonderlands in areas such as Bumpass Hell, Devil's Kitchen, and Sulphur Works invite visitors to witness the quiet forces that continue to mold the land at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Between the areas of dramatic creation and destruction, one can also find the tranquility and beauty of tumbling waterfalls, blossoming meadows, and pristine mountain lakes.
Lassen offers a wide variety of activities from auto touring to hiking to snow play. Outdoor activities vary greatly during the seasons. In late spring and summer, visitors enjoy driving the main park road (auto touring) which often includes a visit to the Park Visitor Center and Park Museum, stops at various pullouts, and possibly a picnic at one of the Park's many picnic areas.
Over 150 miles of trails provide numerous opportunities for day hiking, backpacking, and horseback riding. A number of mountain lakes and creeks provide scenic locations for bird-watching, swimming, fishing, and non-motorized boating. Visitors may bring their own boat, or rent a kayak at Manzanita Lake. Free ranger-led programs are offered in the summer months, and the Lassen Association offers visitors an opportunity to learn something new at its in-park field seminars.
For overnight stays, visitors can choose from one of seven campgrounds in the Park, rental cabins at Manzanita Lake, or a night at the only in-park lodge, Drakesbad Guest Ranch. The winter months offer solitude, and sparkling scenery. Visitors can enjoy non-motorized snow activities including sledding, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, backcountry skiing, and snow camping. On weekends, the Park offers ranger-led snowshoe programs, with snowshoes provided for a $1 donation. The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and southwest campground are open daily, year-round.
Lassen is open year-round, however activities and access are greatly limited by the seasons. The Park receives over 40 feet of snow each winter, and the main Park road may open through the Park anytime between late-May and early-July. Trails are often snow-covered until this time as well. Please call ahead to (530) 595-4480 or visit the Park's website if visiting in early summer or late fall to receive information on current conditions.
Fees: $10 vehicle pass valid for 7 days at Lassen and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.
The Park has a number of accessible facilities including Loomis Museum, Manzanita Lake Camper Store, and the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. Wheelchair accessible restrooms are available throughout the park. Multiple scenic pullouts on the main Park road have wheelchair accessible wayside exhibits, most campgrounds have at least one accessible campsite, and a few trails are wheel chair accessible.
Activities with pets are limited at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Pets must be restrained at all times, and are not permitted on hiking trails, in the Park backcountry, in any body of water, or inside visitor centers or other facilities. A good rule of thumb is that a pet may go anywhere a car can go: roads and road shoulders, campgrounds and picnic areas, parking lots, etc.