Until we purchased Fodor’s The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West (Full-color Travel Guide), we had never really thought of visiting a volcanic site. We figured the areas would be considered dangerous, off-limits, and we never actually considered that there would be any in the US.
Our main attraction to northern California was the redwoods, but we noticed as we were planning that Lassen Volcanic National Park wasn’t too far. We decided to stay near Mount Shasta and take a day trip out to Lassen Volcanic National Park while we were there.
We only spent about four hours at the park, but it seemed like you could spend a few days. The park was huge and offered scenic drives, hikes, and some awesome geothermal activity.
It’s hard to tell the scale from my awful photos, but this short (.5 mile) Devastated Area Interpretive Trail is about 3 miles away from Lassen’s Peak. The boulders you see lining the road were blasted into this area during the most recent eruption of Mount Lassen in 1915.
For many years, nothing grew in the area around Mount Lassen, but it looks like the trees are finally starting to come back!
Yep… this giant boulder flew through the air at one point.
After that tiny hike we continued driving and found the parking lot for the Lassen Peak Trail. We hiked the trail for about 20-30 minutes before giving up, since the elevation was kicking our butts, but it’s a 2.5 mile hike up to the top of Mount Lassen.
After our tiny hike, we continued driving through the park. The road through the park is 30 miles and winds up and around mountains, passing by lakes and lovely scenery.
The Sulphur Works area is accessible from the sidewalk a few steps away from a parking lot. This is the stuff you think of when you think of “an active volcanic area”: steam, bubbling gook, and all that jazz.
We didn’t do any other hiking but from the signs we were reading around the park, you don’t want to walk off the path on your own, lest you end up in a boiling pit of mud hidden under what looked like solid ground. Talk about excitement!
I’d recommend Lassen Volcanic National Park if you’re going to be in northern California, if only for the drive.