Once you start visiting National Parks it becomes a bit of an obsession to see as many as of the 59 as you possibly can. You start “collecting” the experiences along with the prerequisite t-shirts, postcards and Jr Ranger stamps. Despite being only 6 hours from our home, I had never even heard of Lassen Volcanic National Park and had not made it part of our road trip plan. This all changed when I saw it on a park map in a book we bought at the Grand Canyon, and realized it was just an hour off of our route home down I-5.
Lassen, which is about an hour from Redding, California was the scene of a massive volcanic eruption in 1915 and became a full fledged National Park in 1916. While it enjoys National Park status it appears to not enjoy the same funding of the other parks we visited. I read that a senator once said, “it should not cost anything to run a volcano.” That being said, the information I could find promised lots of cool features like bubbling lakes and hot springs viewed from the boardwalk through Bumpass Hell. As well as the opportunity to climb up and peer into a cinder cone at Prospect Peak. Alas, when we got to the park we found that much of it, including those sights, was still inaccessible due to remaining snow.
We were able to take a nice hike around Manzanita Lake which has lots of wildlife and lovely views of both Lassen and Loomis Peak. You can canoe or paddle board, or like us, just enjoy skipping rocks and scrambling around on the fallen trees.
We also did a short hike through an area called Devastated Area. It includes lots of interpretive signs about the effects of the 1915 eruption as well as some of the huge hot lava rocks that rolled miles away from the volcano’s crater.
We ended up only staying a few hours but I definitely plan to return when the snow has melted and more of the park is open. For all my California friends, I think this is a great, close to home place to see a lot of the thermal features associated with Yellowstone. And it’s a lot less crowded!
Meanwhile I earned my sticker!