Living out in California has been incredible, in particular the ability visit many of the wonderful National Parks out in this area. There are over 20 National Parks in California, which makes it one of the biggest states for National Parks.
However a lot of them are not very well visited , including the one I had gone to Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California ((only a few hundred thousand a year visit).
Lassen, named for Lassen Peak (many national parks are named after a significant landmark or formation in the park) is one of the oldest and yet most unknown parks. It is famous for its volcanos (as it sits in one of the most volcanic regions) and has all the major types of volcanos from Cinder Cone, Shield, Composite, and Plug Dome.
Getting to the park is part of the adventure itself. The Park is located about 4.5 hrs from the South Bay (where I’m currently living) and sits in a huge wilderness area to the East of Redding California.
We drove most of places in the park. The best part for us was having a convertible the whole time (especially made it good for photographs. Everywhere the landscape is pretty rugged and harsh looking.
In various places you can see steam and mud boiling up from the group. You can already tell this place is very active. The last major eruption was Lassen Peak at the beginning of the 1900s. However the park is active everywhere, and you will not want for seeing signs of geothermal and volcanic activity.
Also of note: Mount St. Helens in the same region of Volcanos and that erupted more recently.
We probably only covered a rather small region of the park in general. However we got to see some incredible things.
History of the place began as a yellow ochre mine (for paint) by the Supan family. However over the years the National Park was able to gain access to the site.
Given that the is both beautiful and one of the easiest to access geothermally active places in the park, it is such a benefit to visitors to have access to this site. Just be care, the place is dangerous and its pretty easy to hurt yourself.
Not the highest peak in the park (we were not able to access Lassen Peak this time). But still a great view and a beautiful hike through the park. You can definitely get some beautiful views of the area and see how the place has changed and re-generated through out the history of the park.
Probably one of my favorite parts of the park. Bumpass Hell takes you through very active geothermal features and boiling mud pots. This part was very dangerous. There was even a few moments where I stopped to look and nearly got hit by boiling hot mud! So be very careful.
One of the prettiest lakes of the area. Manzanita lake is also I’m told one of the few places you can access in the winter. We didn’t really spend too much time here, but we could see that it was a fun place to check out overall.
We ended up getting to Cinder Cone close to sunset…which to be honest was probably the best time to go. Actually coming here was probably the highlight of the trip. The changing of the light on the mountain is just incredible to behold, and given that there were so few tourists, we only had to share it with a few others.
Cinder Cone is a dormant cinder cone volcano. And you can (as we did), climb up to the top of the mountain. Although as we soon learned for every two steps we took we slid back about one (going down however was super fun!). Just be sure to be wearing shoes that you wouldn’t mind ruining.
We stayed until about the light really started to disappear. The light really makes this place so beautiful. By the time we ended up getting down however it was too dark to do anything other than to leave the park for the night.
Overall the park was incredible and surprising that it was so poorly visited. In some ways that makes sense, there are so many incredible parks in California (among them Sequoia, Yosemite, Redwoods) that I guess if you are limited on time this one is an easy one to skip. Especially if you are trying to get here from one of the major metro areas.
You can see quite a few of the attractions in a day as most things are fairly close to each other, but you need a few days really to appreciate it I believe. I really do hope to get back here again sometime in the future and explore more of the park and the region around it.