Lassen Volcanic National Park


California > Lassen Volcanic National Park
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Painted Dunes
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Devils Kitchen
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Cliff Lake
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Boiling Springs Lake
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Road near Lassen Peak

Lassen Peak was originally a side-vent of a much larger volcano, posthumously named Mount Tehama, that exploded with huge force many thousands of years ago leaving a ring of hills some 3 miles across. Lassen itself has erupted several times, most recently after a violent explosion in 1915. Contemporary volcanic activity continued until 1922, by which time the mountain and surrounding area had become part of the Lassen Volcanic National Park. Lassen is the world's largest volcano of the plug dome type, and is visible for many miles across north California, rising 1,000 feet higher than any other nearby summit.

In the 60 years since the last disturbance, the land close to the volcano has largely recovered but much evidence of the destruction remains, and the national park has many fascinating geothermal features including mud pools, hot springs and gas vents. These occur mainly in the area once occupied by Mount Tehama, but are also found at locations of other ancient volcanic eruptions; major locations are Boiling Springs Lake, Bumpass Hell, Devils Kitchen and the Sulphur Works. They form part of an impressive mountainous landscape, partly forested, also containing steep glaciated valleys, cliffs, lakes and waterfalls, together with several other volcanic domes and ancient lava fields.


The national park is 200 miles from San Francisco, in a sparsely-populated, hilly area north of the Sierra Nevada mountains, officially part of the Cascade Range that extends north all the way to British Columbia. Two major east-west roads, CA 44 and CA 36, pass either side of the park and intersect with CA 89 which winds through the western section, passing close to most of the major features. This is the only paved access route although several gravel tracks lead to sites in the more remote eastern section, including Butte Lake and Warner Valley. Most visitors approach from the south and drive only a few miles from the entrance to view the nearby thermal areas, but it is well worth continuing the whole way across the park to get a better appreciation of the varied landscape. This scenic drive takes about 90 minutes excluding stops. The park also has a fine network of hiking trails.

Lassen is one of the most unusual places in California, yet is relatively little visited, partly because it is a long way from most other famous natural attractions in the state. Also, access is restricted due to the heavy snowfall that this area receives - the park may be fully open for only 3 months of the year though is at least partially accessible in any month. It is amazing to visit when the road is being ploughed after a hard winter as although the machines leave the surface clear, the vertical walls of snow at either side may tower many feet above, enclosing the road in a dazzling white canyon.

Featured Lassen Trails



Boiling Springs Lake
Boiling Springs Lake
★★★★★
0.8 miles, 300 feet
Set in a deep crater in the mixed fir/pine/cedar forest, Boiling Springs Lake contains simmering, acidic, 125°F water and is surrounded by many small vents, pools and mud pots
Brokeoff Mountain
Brokeoff Mountain
★★★★★
3.5 miles, 2600 feet
Rocky volcanic summit in the southwest corner of the national park, reached by a steep trail passing forest, meadows, pools and talus slopes
Bumpass Hell
Bumpass Hell
★★★★★
1.5 miles, 300 feet
Although unspectacular by Yellowstone's standards, Bumpass Hell is the largest thermal area in Lassen, and in summer many visitors walk the easy trail to the basin
Butte Lake and Cinder Cone
Butte Lake and Cinder Cone
★★★★★
1.5 miles, 850 feet
Cinder Cone is a well preserved volcanic peak, symmetrical in shape, black in color and completely lacking in vegetation - a highlight of the national park yet one that few people see owing to its isolated location
Crumbaugh Lake
Crumbaugh Lake
★★★★★
1.2 miles, 230 feet
This short trail leads southwards through open woodland to the shallow Cold Boiling Lake, then descends through a patch of thicker woodland to larger Crumbaugh Lake
Devils Kitchen and Warner Valley
Devils Kitchen and Warner Valley
★★★★★
2.1 miles, 440 feet
Devils Kitchen is the second largest thermal area in Lassen Volcanic National Park, and one that receives far fewer visitors than the main region at Bumpass Hell
Kings Creek Falls
Kings Creek Falls
★★★★★
1.5 miles, 500 feet
The 40 foot waterfall on Kings Creek is a popular destination, suitable for families with children
Lassen Peak
Lassen Peak
★★★★★
2.4 miles, 1957 feet
Beginning at an already high elevation of 8,500 feet, the well defined trail up the south face of Lassen Peak gains another 2,000 feet as it switchbacks across a steep slope of stones and lava blocks to the wind-swept summit
Mill Creek Falls
Mill Creek Falls
★★★★★
1.5 miles, 300 feet
The highest waterfall in the national park (70 feet) is reached by an easy trail that descends gradually through woods and floral meadows
Paradise Meadows
Paradise Meadows
★★★★
1.4 miles, 700 feet
Sheltered, marshy basin beneath Reading Peak, filled with many and varied wildflowers in summer
Ridge Lakes
Ridge Lakes
★★★★
1 miles, 1045 feet
Starting from the parking area next to the Sulphur Works, the short but steep Ridge Lakes Trail ascends a partly wooded hillside to the two interconnected Alpine lakes
Terrace, Shadow and Cliff Lakes
Terrace, Shadow and Cliff Lakes
★★★★★
1.8 miles, 700 feet
Three of the prettier lakes in Lassen Volcanic National Park may be accessed from the same trail; Cliff Lake is the most scenic, set beneath the north face of Reading Peak
Highlights: Amazing volcanic and geothermal phenomena, centered on Mount Lassen, an active volcano that last erupted in 1922. Park includes hot springs, fumaroles, lakes, waterfalls, peaks and valleys, viewable from a scenic drive and an extensive network of trails
Nearest city with hotels: Chester, 29 miles
Management: NPS
Location: 40.436, -121.533 (south entrance)
Seasons: Open all year though fully accessible for only 4 months during summer, owing to the very heavy winter snowfall
Weather:

Lassen Volcanic - Scenic Drive and Hiking



Scenic Drive
Sites along highway 89, the main road through the park, including Sulphur Works, Lassen Peak, Summit Lake and Chaos Jumbles
Hiking
Details of all trails in the park, starting along Hwy 89 and at Butte Lake, Warner Valley and Juniper Lake
Park Map - map of Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic - Photographs


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East Pyrite Pool
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Alpine shooting star

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Shadow Lake
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Butte Lake
  • Photographs - general views, Lassen in the snow, Boiling Springs Lake, Bumpass Hell, Cinder Cone and Butte lake, Cliff Lake Trail, Devils Kitchen, Paradise Meadows, Ridge Lakes
  • All Lassen photographs
  • QTVR panoramas - Brokeoff Mountain, Bumpass Hell, Cinder Cone, Cliff Lake, Crumbaugh Lake, Fantastic Lava Beds
  • Lassen Volcanic NP is part of the California Big Trees itinerary
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    Lassen Hotels


    The closest hotel to Lassen Volcanic National Park is the recently opened Best Western Rose Quartz Inn, which provides 50 comfortable rooms in the center of Chester at 306 Main St (CA 36) - a mile from the north shore of Lake Almanor and 29 miles from the southern park entrance. The tree-lined neighborhood has a mixture of residences and businesses, including plenty of restaurants an easy walk away. The hotel has an exercise facility (though no pool), and serves free continental breakfast.

    Check rates at the Best Western Rose Quartz Inn

    Other nearby towns with hotels are (with distances from the south entrance): Red Bluff (50 miles), Susanville (64 miles) and Chico (70 miles), while Redding is 47 miles from the northern entrance.
    Best Western Rose Quartz Inn
    Best Western Rose Quartz Inn



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