Basic Facts About Lassen Volcanic National Park

Located in Northern California, Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to the iconic Lassen Peak as well as a variety of geothermal and hydrothermal features. These features include volcanoes, steam vents, geysers, mud pots, painted dunes, and more. A lesser-known U.S. national park, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers visitors an excellent opportunity to get off the beaten track.

History

Lassen Volcanic National Park began as two distinct national monuments, Cinder Cone National Monument and Lassen Peak National Monument, which were established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907. The park garnered national attention in 1914 and 1915 with volcanic eruptions from Lassen Peak, and became officially recognized as a national park in 1916.

The region had been inhabited by Native Americans since ancient times, but was then settled by European immigrants who used Lassen Peak as a landmark on their way to the Sacramento Valley. Danish immigrant Peter Lassen settled in the area and became a guide for those on their way to the valley, and the park was eventually named after him.

Landscape

Lassen Volcanic National Park is characterized by volcanoes and volcanic features that resulted from hundreds of thousands of years of violent eruptions. These geothermal and hydrothermal components include steam vents, mud pots, geysers, volcanic peaks, painted dunes, lava flows, boiling pools, sulfur vents, valleys, craters, and canyons. The area is forested, and there are also a number of lakes, streams, and vast meadows throughout the park. 

Staying Safe at Lassen Volcanic National Park

This remarkable national park located in Northern California has a variety of hydrothermal features, including geysers, hot springs, volcanoes, steam vents, mud pots and more. Though Lassen Volcanic National Park is an endlessly fascinating place to explore, it’s essential to take the necessary safety precautions when visiting.

Weather 

From mid-October through mid-June, the majority of the park is covered in snow. Though the park remains open year round, the main roads are closed due to the inclement weather conditions, leaving summer the best and most accessible season to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park. If you do choose to visit when the park is snowy, make sure to take the necessary safety precautions and have a solid plan in case of emergency. Beware of avalanches if you plan to hike in the backcountry.

Wildlife 

There are plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities in Lassen Volcanic National Park, but it is essential that you keep your distance and do NOT feed the animals. This prevents the risk of disease and protects the animals from becoming dependent on unreliable human food. Keep away from bears, mule deer, foxes, mountain lions, and raptor nests, should you encounter them in the park.

Other Concerns

Altitude sickness is a concern, as the majority of the park lies at high elevations. Be sure to keep hydrated and bring your own altitude sickness medication just in case. 

NEVER veer from the designated paths and trails around the hydrothermal areas in the park, as doing so can pose an extremely dangerous safety threat. The park’s geothermal features can present as solid ground when in fact they are just a thin crust with boiling acid bubbling just below the surface. Make sure to remain within the designated hiking areas at all times to avoid any accidents. 

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Places to Visit After Lassen Volcanic National Park

Situated in Northern California, Lassen Volcanic National Park is characterized by a wide range of geothermal and hydrothermal features that make this one of the country’s most captivating destinations. Once you’ve had your fill of the spectacular volcanic activity at Lassen Volcanic National Park, continue your trip to one of the following nearby destinations!

Whiskeytown, California – Once a bustling gold mining town in northwestern California, Whiskeytown today has few inhabitants. Now home to Whiskeytown Lake, this small town is registered as a California Historical Landmark. The lake and surrounding area is now a popular recreation destination with much to explore.

Lava Beds National Monument– A vast countryside ravaged by volcanoes, Lava Beds National Monument is located just over 2 hours outside of Lassen Volcanic National Park. A rugged landscape boasting a variety of volcanic features, ancient caves, historic Native American artifacts, and more, Lava Beds National Monument makes for an excellent next stop on your trip.

San Francisco, California – Just under 4 hours outside the park, San Francisco is one of the country’s most popular cities. Characterized by gorgeous natural landscapes and the San Francisco Bay, you won’t be lacking for things to do during your visit to San Francisco. 

Modoc National Forest– A vast woodland covered by immense ancient lava flows, Modoc National Forest makes for the perfect next stop after your visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park. A scenic mountainous landscape rife with lakes, craters, lava tube caves, and more, Modoc National Forest should not be overlooked!

Red Bluff, California– A small city an hour outside of Lassen Volcanic National Park, Red Bluff is referred to as “The Victorian City on the River”. Established in 1876, this town has plenty of history to explore and offers several lodging opportunities to utilize before, during, or after your visit to the park.

Lake Tahoe– One of the most spectacular lakes in the country, Lake Tahoe is only a 3.5 hour drive from Lassen Volcanic National Park. A freshwater lake situated in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is a must-visit when you’re in the region.

Points of Interest at Lassen Volcanic National Park

A somewhat off the beaten path U.S. national park, Lassen Volcanic National Park lies in Northern California. Renowned for its hydrothermal sites, lakes, and volcanic activity, bubbling mud pots, and more, there are endless things to see and explore in this fascinating national park. 

Manzanita Lake

This serene lake is situated alongside the iconic Mount Lassen, offering spectacular views of Lassen Peak. The volcano’s reflection can be seen in the peaceful waters of Manzanita Lake, making this one of the park’s top destinations. This is a popular location for kayaking, fishing, picnicking, hiking, and more.

Bumpass Hell 

The fantastic hydrothermal features that Lassen Volcanic National Park is known for can be experienced at Bumpass Hell. This volcanic valley hosts a number of smoking vents, steaming geysers, and acidic boiling hot springs. The Bumpass Hell hike is 3 miles round trip. 

Sulphur Works

This giant bubbling mud pot is one of the park’s most unique and noteworthy features. Sulphur Works lie alongside the road, allowing for easy access to the site. Here you’ll watch as steam and smoke rise up from the muddy basin and the putrid smell of sulphur fills the air.

Summit Lake 

A picturesque lake offering incredible views of Mount Lassen, come here for a peaceful pause. Great for swimming and picnicking along its banks, Summit Lake is a favorite of Lassen Volcanic National Park visitors.

Kings Creek Falls 

These gorgeous waterfalls are a main highlight at Lassen Volcanic National Park. One of the most popular hiking trails in the park, the trail will guide you through vast meadows, scenic vistas, and of course, the breathtaking Kings Creek Falls.

Lassen Peak Trail 

This challenging hike yields big rewards when you reach the distinguished Lassen Peak. Rocky paths that lead you along the volcano’s ridges offer incredible views of the rest of the park that lies below. This hike will take between 5 to 6 hours, so make sure to bring enough food and water for the trek!

Cinder Cone

Another of the park’s remarkable summits, Cinder Cone is composed of volcanic ash and hardened lava. The hike to the summit of Cinder Cone is very challenging, but you will be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views over ancient lava fields, Lassen Peak, and more of the park’s volcanoes. 

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