Sure, you’ve heard of Old Faithful, but Yellowstone isn’t the only U.S. national park teeming with volcanic activity! A hidden gem of the National Park System, Lassen Volcanic National Park is a must-see on your next trip to California.
Lassen Volcanic National Park was established in 1916, following a series of eruptions from Lassen Peak, the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Range. But this huge plug-dome peak isn’t the only type of volcano you’ll find in the park; it’s also home to composite, shield and cinder cone volcanoes.
Things to Do at Lassen Volcanic
Safety First: The number one rule at Lassen Volcanic is to stay on the trail. Surfaces off of the trail are potentially dangerous and may result in extreme burns.
Hike Bumpass Hell Trail
A moderate, 3-mile round trip hike will take you through the biggest area of hydrothermal activity within Lassen Volcanic National Park. You may even see some pretty impressive steam spouting from Big Boiler in additional to the many bubbling mudpots and pools.
Walk Through the Sulphur Works
One of the easiest places to see active hydrothermal areas of the park is in the Sulphur Works, where you’ll find steaming, bubbling earth in an easily accessible area.
Enjoy a Scenic Mountain Drive
The 30-mile stretch of the main Lassen Park highway that runs through the park will take you through multiple hydrothermal areas and 8,500 feet up Lassen Peak. This road offers spectacular views and is the starting point for many trails.
Hike Lassen Peak’s Summit
For such a tall mountain peak, Lassen provides a surprisingly short summit hike. That’s because the park road will get you most of the way there during the summer months. Tack on a steep 2.5-mile hike to the top and then 2.5-miles back, and you’ve conquered second-tallest mountain in California.
Plug Your Nose at Fart Gulch
You can easily see (and smell!) Fart Gulch from the main park road near Pilot Pinnacle. With a name like that, we can’t think of a better place for a photo opp.
Picnic at Lake Helen
There’s something so majestic about a blue alpine lake with an impressive mountain peak in the background. That’s exactly what you’ll get when you visit Lake Helen, located just off the park trail near Bumpass Hell.
When to Visit the National Park
If you’d like to explore the northern parts of Lassen Peak, make sure you visit during warmer months. The main park road closes at high elevation, since heavy snowfall in winter is likely and will cause closers.
Places to Stay Nearby
There are a few towns to stay in near Lassen National Park, in addition to the on-site camping options. We recommend choosing an affordable hotel close to the park.
Images via LassenNPS.