Earth Shaking Experience in California
Roseville, CA- How have we not been here sooner? That was the prevailing sentiment during our recent exploration of Lassen Volcanic National Park. This less traveled geographical wonder of California is an American treasure right in our backyard.
A mere three hour drive north of Placer County, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers breathtaking alpine scenery, pristine lakes of emerald green and cobalt blue surrounded by a flora and fauna filled wilderness.
Lassen is one of California’s lesser visited National Parks drawing in the neighborhood of 500,000 annual visitors. For comparison, Yosemite welcomes approximately 4.5 million annual visitors, while the desolate and rugged Pinnacles south of San Jose brings in about 250,000 each year.
Located in the northern portion of the Sacramento Valley, Lassen belongs to the Cascade Mountain Range. Considered one of the largest plug dome volcanoes in the world, Lassen last erupted back in 1921.
Things to Do
If your are new to Lassen and don’t have much time or a game plan, consider exploring around the Highway Highlights. A 30-mile road that connects the southwest and northwest entrances. The Highway Highlights offers easy access to some of the parks fun features from Sulphur Works all the way to Manzanita Lake. Plenty of stops along the way to explore, picnic and take in the beauty of Lassen along the journey.
Bumpass Hell Hike
3-4 mile roundtrip (easy to moderate)
Bumpass Hell is a must-see from our viewpoint. Lace up your boots for the hike to Bumpass Hell for an earth shaking experience among boiling mud pots, fumaroles and an unmistakable rumble beneath your feet. This very popular hike gently ascends mountain ridgelines dotted with snow, towering pines and endless panoramic views from atop the world. Tip: Park at Lake Helen, walk south toward Emerald Lake. Cross the street and you’ll see access to Bumpass Hell trail. Upon returning, lunch at scenic Lake Helen. Hearty souls might be spotted taking the plunge into the clear icy waters.
If a remote or strenous hike is more to your liking, Lassen contains over 150 miles of trails. For the adventurous and in shape, consider an ascent of Mount Lassen’s nearly 10,500 foot peak.
Camping – Manzanita Lake
Due to limited availability, planning ahead, especially on weekends is a wise choice. We gambled and lady lucky found us a beautiful camp site in a shady grove at the Manzanita Lake campground for just $26. A quick drive around the campground loops helped us locate a more spacious and private site. (Check conditions as lake was closed to swimming due to a river otter attack)
The July daytime temps hovered around 70 degrees, with evening temps dipping into the 40’s. Manzanita Lake offers a nice set of amenities that includes flush toilets, showers and a general store for the essentials and a few treats.
Trails extending to the lake and out into the surrounding region made it the perfect camping spot for exploration as well as relaxation.
“The National Parks: America’s Best Idea”
The film by Ken Burns on PBS continues to reverberate in our minds as the perfectly apt summation of National Parks, “America’s Best Idea.” While we only scratched the surface during a brief stay, Lassen Volcanic National Park is an earth shaking experience on many levels. We can’t wait to go back!
Plan Your Visit
Learn more and plan your next adventure at https://www.nps.gov/lavo/
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