Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

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.

A ring of volcanic rock from the explosion of Lassen Peak in 1915
A ring of volcanic rock from the explosion of Lassen Peak in 1915

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!

Gigantic boulder that was thrown from Lassen Peak to this spot in 1915
Gigantic boulder that was thrown from Lassen Peak to this spot in 1915

Yep… this giant boulder flew through the air at one point.

A hike at Lassen Volcanic National Park
A hike at Lassen Volcanic National Park – we were heading somewhere up near the top

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.

Clouds above rocky hills
The sky was looking interesting from up on the hill.

 

The parking lot
The parking lot from our hike

 

Views on a hike at Lassen Volcanic National Park
Some of the views on our hike – we were a little excited about seeing snow on the ground

 

Views from the drive around Lassen Volcanic National Park
Views from the drive around Lassen Volcanic National Park

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.

King's Creek Meadow from the road
King’s Creek Meadow from the road
Winding road at Lassen Volcanic National Park
Long and winding road
Kings Creek Meadow from another angle
Kings Creek Meadow from another angle
Road at Lassen Volcanic National Park
Please excuse the awful photography – I don’t know why I thought these settings were working.

 

 

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.

Steam coming up from the earth
Steaming earth

 

Steaming mud pit
Steaming, bubbling mud pit! Don’t fall in.

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.

3 thoughts on “Lassen Volcanic National Park”

    1. The closest one on the map is Red Bluff, which is about 40 minutes away from the southern entrance of the park. Then there’s Redding, that’s about 50 minutes away from the central entrance to the park. We drove through both – Redding had a cool pedestrian bridge that we took a tiny detour for. I don’t remember anything about Red Bluff.

      We stayed in the Mount Shasta area, which was an hour and 15 minutes away from the northern entrance to the park. The close proximity to the mountain was worth the extra drive, in my opinion.

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