Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
- How To Get to Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Getting Around Lassen Volcanic National Park
- What To See and Do in Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Best Times To Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Where To Stay in Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Where To Eat in Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park Facts
- Final Thoughts
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Lassen Volcanic National Park is located near the northern tip of the Sacramento Valley at the southern end of the Cascades Mountains in California. The star of Lassen Volcanic National Park has had many names over the years, but today this mountain is known as Lassen Peak. This mountain isn’t just an ordinary mountain; it is the largest plugged volcano in the world.
Today, this national park offers visitors serenity and peace, but that’s not always been the case, as past eruptions have created mud flows that flooded the valley below. Each year, nearly 500,000 visitors come to Lassen Volcanic National Park to explore the beauty of this area that is thriving with life, beauty, and wonder.
How To Get to Lassen Volcanic National Park
Where Is Lassen Volcanic National Park?
Lassen Volcanic National Park is located in northern California, near the northern region of the Sacramento Valley. The closest cities to this national park are Redding and Susanville. Lassen Volcanic National Park stretches over 166 square miles and is enveloped by Lassen National Forest.
Nearest Airports to Lassen Volcanic National Park
There are 3 airports that are typically used for guests flying to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Each option will take a few hours to arrive at the park’s entrance, which adds to the excitement of your national park vacation since there is plenty to see and do along the way. Let’s look at the 3 most commonly used airports for flying to Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO)
Reno-Tahoe International Airport is located in Reno, Nevada. This airport is the closest major airport, approximately 2.5 hours from Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Reno-Tahoe offers over 130 departures daily to more than 20 nonstop destinations. This airport services 11 airlines, including popular names like Allegiant, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United. Reno-Tahoe International Airport has 9 rental car agencies available for quick and convenient car rentals to complete the journey to Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport (MFR)
Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport is located in Medford, Oregon, nearly 3.5 hours from Lassen Volcanic National Park.
This airport offers over a dozen nonstop flights to major cities in the Western U.S. such as Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle. Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport services 6 airlines, including Alaska, Avelo, Allegiant, American, Delta, and United.
While Rogue Valley International-Medford Airport is one of the further options for flying into Lassen Volcanic National Park, it is an excellent option for a beautiful journey to the park.
Sacramento International Airport (SMF)
Sacramento International Airport is a little less than 3 hours from Lassen Volcanic National Park. This airport is located approximately 10 miles northwest of downtown Sacramento. It is known as the gateway to California and the world.
Sacramento International Airport services over a dozen well-known airlines, including Air Canada, American, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United, and Volaris. This airport has nonstop and direct flights throughout North America. It has many options for connecting flights to places around the world.
Sacramento is a bit further than some other options. Still, it makes an excellent choice for flying into the Lassen Volcanic National Park area. The journey to the park is filled with unique sites and attractions along the way.
Driving to Lassen Volcanic National Park
A road trip to a national park is an experience in and of itself, and the journey to Lassen Volcanic National Park will be remembered for years. There are several ways to access the main road of this national park.
Guests from the south will utilize CA-36, and those from the north will access CA-44. Once arriving at this park, guests can access the 30-mile park highway or one of the other roads leading to the park’s remote areas.
Getting Around Lassen Volcanic National Park
The best way to get around Lassen Volcanic National Park is by personal vehicle. This national park has a 30-mile road running through it called Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway. While this highway is the only road that travels through the park, there are 3 other roads that provide access to remote areas in the park, such as Juniper Lake Road, Warner Valley Road, and Butte Lake Road.
The National Park Service provides several types of interactive and printable maps on its website to help you plan your Lassen Volcanic National Park itinerary.
What To See and Do in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park has many attractions and activities for guests to enjoy during their visit. From traditional park activities like hiking and stargazing to exciting hydrothermal sites and museums, this national park has no shortage of things to do. Check out some of the top activities and points of attraction in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Lassen Volcanic National Park has over 150 miles of incredible hiking trails throughout the park. These trails take adventurers through the park’s hydrothermal areas, near the volcanic peaks, around the alpine lakes, and across the mountain meadows.
There are hikes for every ability and age at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Some of the most popular hiking trails include the Manzanita Lake Loop, the Devastated Area Interpretive Trail, and the Cinder Cone Trail. Taking part in one of the hikes at Lassen Volcanic National Park allows visitors to get an up-close look at the major sites and attractions in the park.
There are 8 different hydrothermal areas in Lassen Volcanic National Park. These are present due to volcanic activity and signify future potential eruptions. These natural phenomena are mesmerizing sights to behold.
Sulphur Works is one of the most accessible hydrothermal areas in the park, near the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. Boiling Springs Lake is another popular hydrothermal site in the Warner Valley Region. This trail is less than 2 miles round trip and takes visitors through the mountain meadows and through the forest for an incredible view of this 125-degree lake.
For adventurers who enjoy a more strenuous hike, the trail to Devils Kitchen is a great choice. This 4.8-mile moderate hike takes visitors on a journey back in time, near several steam vents and to heights where they can hear boiling under the earth’s surface.
You can’t go to Lassen Volcanic National Park without taking some time to see the hydrothermal areas. Seeing these natural wonders is an experience that is remembered for a lifetime.
Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center
The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center is open year-round and located near the park’s Southwest Entrance. This visitor center is an excellent place to visit before, during, or after starting your park excursions.
Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center features an information kiosk, a hall of informative exhibits, an amphitheater, a gift shop, a dining area, a park store, and a café. This is one of the only areas where Wi-Fi is also available. This visitor center is a fantastic starting point for your Lassen Volcanic National Park vacation and a great place to learn about the natural and cultural history of the park.
The Loomis Museum is a historical museum located a mile from the park’s northwest entrance. This is a great place to visit to learn about the park or participate in one of the many ranger-led programs offered by the park.
The museum is open exclusively during the summer months. This facility has exhibits, informative films, and a park store. It is also an excellent place to access trails like the Manzanita Lake or the Lily Pond Nature Trail.
The historic Loomis Museum is a must-see attraction for Lassen Volcanic National Park visitors. It’s a great place to learn and see what this magnificent park has to discover.
Geocaching has taken the world by storm in the last few years. Parkcaching mixes geocaching with national park adventures. This real-life treasure hunt is an exciting way to explore Lassen Volcanic National Park.
This national park has a parkcaching challenge where adventurers can use a brochure and locate park caches along the park’s highway. This challenge takes place throughout the summer and fall months. Parkcaching is a thrilling experience for visitors to Lassen Volcanic National Park. It’s a great way to discover and learn about the different features of this national park.
Lassen Volcanic National Park has an incredibly dark sky that is often overlooked. While this park has not been certified as an International Dark Sky Park, light pollution does not impact its skies. This park is one of the last natural darkness sanctuaries today.
Lassen Volcanic National Park offers a variety of events and ranger-led programs to educate visitors on the celestial wonders of the park’s dark sky. Some of the celestial sights that can be seen from this park include the Milky Way, constellations, and other objects in the sky.
Be sure to add an evening of stargazing when you visit Lassen Volcanic National Park for a spectacular experience that can’t be seen elsewhere.
Lassen Volcanic National Park has over 200 lakes, ponds, and streams running through its boundaries. Because of all this water, this national park is a great place for water activities like fishing, boating, and swimming.
Anglers love the opportunities for fishing at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Some of the most popular places for fishing are Manzanita and Butte Lake. Common fish caught throughout the park include rainbow, brown, and brook trout. Fishermen can fish on shore, fly in the water, or from a boat at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Several boating devices are available for rent at Lassen Volcanic National Park, including kayaks and paddle boards. The park prohibits engine-powered watercraft to protect the waters and wildlife. Some popular boating areas include Butte, Juniper, Manzanita, and Summit Lakes. There are also lakes where boating is prohibited, such as Boiling Springs, Emerald, Helen, and Reflection.
Swimming in one of the lakes or streams at Lassen Volcanic National Park is a great way to cool off and have a good time with friends or family. Swimming is permitted at the lakes and creeks as long as they aren’t hydrothermal areas.
Whether you decide to boat, fish, or swim, the lakes, ponds, and creeks provide hours of entertainment during a visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Lassen Volcanic National Park is a fantastic location for winter activities. Most of the park is covered in snow during the snowy season, making this a winter wonderland. Popular winter activities include snowshoeing, skiing, and snowboarding. The Southwest and Manzanita Lake areas are the best areas for enjoying these activities.
Visiting the Sulphur Works area in the winter is also a great idea. This area is the only hydrothermal area to be visited in winter. Seeing the rising steam in the frigid temperatures is a remarkable sight to experience.
If you enjoy the cold temperatures and snowy conditions, participating in one or several of the winter activities available in Lassen Volcanic National Park will create snowy memories that will last for years to come.
Best Times To Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park
You will have an experience of a lifetime, no matter when you visit Lassen Volcanic National Park. However, suppose there are specific activities or events you’d like to see or participate in. In that case, there are better times to plan a visit to this national park. Let’s explore the best times to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Best Time To Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park in Winter
A winter visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park is a treat for guests who love cold weather and snowy conditions. The best month for a winter visit is December. The weather is very cold and snowy in December, which makes the perfect combination for winter fun. Several types of winter activities are available for guests to enjoy during the year’s cold months.
Best Time To Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park To Avoid the Crowds
The least visited time to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park is in the winter. Still, very few activities and attractions can be enjoyed during these months due to closures. A late fall trip in October is an excellent option for visiting the park for a least-crowded experience. Most of the park is still open, and the number of visitors has drastically dropped in October, making it a fantastic time for a solitary visit.
Best Time To Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park for Wildlife
For wildlife enthusiasts, the best time to see the wildlife that makes their home in the park is in the month of May. The animals are lively and commonly seen this time of year, especially on the hiking trails. Some animals often spotted in Lassen Volcanic National Park include marmots, squirrels, and mule deer.
Cheapest Time To Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park
The cheapest time to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park is during the winter, as it is the off-season, and the park reduces the entry fee cost. One of the best and cheapest times to visit this national park is in April. This month is still considered a winter month, but the temperatures are starting to rise, and the snow is beginning to slow down at this time.
Annual Events in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park hosts many events at the park each year. From astronomy to film festivals to bird counts, there’s always something exciting to experience when visiting this national park. Let’s look at some popular events at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Annual Christmas Bird Count
The Annual Christmas Bird Count is an event that takes place each year in the middle of December and is sponsored by Lassen Volcanic National Park and the National Audobon Society.
Those who participate in this event gather at Lassen Volcanic National Park and work with the park staff and volunteers to count and record the different types of birds spotted in the park. This event is a fantastic way to see the variety of birds that live in the park and contribute to the data collection in Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Lassen Dark Sky Festival
The Lassen Dark Sky Festival is a well-known event in Lassen Volcanic National Park that takes place in August each year. This event showcases the park’s incredible dark sky and is a beautiful opportunity to learn about astronomy.
Many programs and activities are available during the Lassen Dark Sky Festival, including stargazing, presentations by astronomers, hikes, and viewing the night sky with high-end telescopes. If you are intrigued by the wonder of the night sky, you won’t want to miss this incredible event at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Where To Stay in Lassen Volcanic National Park
There are plenty of accommodation options for visitors to Lassen Volcanic National Park. With an abundance of lodging inside and near the park, it isn’t difficult to find the perfect place to set up a base camp during your park vacation. Check out some of the awesome places in and around Lassen Volcanic National Park to see which will work best for your travel needs.
Inside the Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park has several options for guests who want to stay on the park property. Whether you want to camp and be one with nature, have a primitive experience in a rustic cabin, or lodge at a guest ranch, this park has you covered.
Sleeping under the stars is an incredible way to experience Lassen Volcanic National Park. This national park has 7 campgrounds available for visitors who want to make their home away from home in the great outdoors. Some of the campgrounds are available by reservation only. Still, some options are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Each campsite features a fire ring, picnic table, and bear-resistant storage box. Most of the campsites also have spigots or sinks for drinking water. It is important to note that water is unavailable year-round, so if you visit during a month when water is unavailable, the price is reduced.
The most popular Lassen Volcanic National Park campgrounds are Summit Lake North, Manzanita Lake, and Summit Lake South Campgrounds. For a complete list of the campgrounds at this national park and their amenities, explore the campground page on Lassen Volcanic National Park’s website.
Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Drakesbad Guest Ranch is located in the southeastern part of Lassen Volcanic National Park in Warner Valley. This ranch features a dining hall, lodge, and bungalow units for visitors seeking a secluded, rustic experience. Drakesbad Guest Ranch was originally the homestead of Edward Drake in the 1880s.
Today, guests can choose from rooms in the historic lodge or one of the bungalow units. Many activities are available for guests, such as swimming in the hydrothermal spring-fed pool, horseback riding, fishing, massage therapy, or hiking.
This is a great place to unwind and reconnect with nature and loved ones, as Drakebad Guest Ranch is rustic with no cell service or internet access. The lodge features electricity, but the rooms have no electrical outlets. There are also bungalows without electricity for those who want a primitive experience with kerosene lamps.
Drakesbad Guest Ranch is an excellent opportunity for those who want to step back and enjoy the simple life while staying at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Manzanita Lake Camping Cabins
Manzanita Lake Camping Cabins are near the northwest entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Staying in one of the camping cabins Is the ideal choice for guests seeking a rustic experience with the luxury of 4 walls and a roof overhead.
There are 20 cabins and 3 cabin styles at the Manzanita Lake Camping Cabins, including a 1-room, 2-room, and bunkhouse model. These cabins are in an ideal location, just a short walk to Manazita Lake and Lassen Peak. Manzanita Lake Camper Store is nearby for picking up groceries, a quick bite to eat, and any other travel necessities.
Manzanita Lake Camping Cabins are the perfect solution for a primitive stay, with convenience and comfort as bonuses.
Towns Near Lassen Volcanic National Park
Staying on the park’s property is always an enjoyable experience. Still, sometimes guests cannot secure lodging due to limited availability or prefer to stay elsewhere. For visitors wanting to set up a base camp near Lassen Volcanic National Park, there are several towns to choose from.
Chester is the closest town to Lassen Volcanic National Park and has lots to offer visitors. This town is located on the shores of Lake Almanor with stunning views of Lassen Peak. It takes approximately 40 minutes to drive to this town from the park.
There is a host of unique restaurants that are locally owned and happy to serve visitors. The restaurants range from burger joints to pizza parlors and from Dutch bakeries and coffee shops to barbecue smokehouses. There’s something for every palate in Chester.
The accommodations in Chester are one of a kind and run by local families. There are dozens of bed and breakfasts, inns, lakehouses, and resorts. Whether looking for an RV campground or a resort, you can find just what you desire in Chester.
This town is in the perfect location for guests who seek outdoor adventures such as fishing, water sports, hiking, and golfing. Visitors who prefer to spend their time indoors can find a variety of boutique shops, museums, and a library. Chester is a popular location for ents during the year, so there are opportunities for concerts, holiday festivals, concerts, and craft shows.
Redding is a 49-minute drive from Lassen Volcanic National Park. This town is an excellent option for visitors wanting to stay near the park who want to continue the adventure during their national park vacation. Redding has plenty of options for lodging. From riverside bed and breakfasts to luxury hotels, there’s a perfect place for every traveler.
There’s an abundance of activity in Redding. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy the opportunities for spelunking and fly fishing. At the same time, other guests appreciate the boutique shops, breweries, theaters, and museums in the area.
There is no shortage of dining opportunities in Redding. With hundreds of restaurants ranging from local food trucks to gourmet restaurants, the most challenging part of your stay in Redding will be deciding where to eat each day of your visit.
Redding is a fantastic choice for setting up a home base while visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park. With its abundance of accommodations, incredible dining scene, and endless recreation opportunities, everyone will have a blast in Redding.
Susanville is just over an hour from Lassen Volcanic National Park. It is a town that has a rich history and offers something for every tourist, from outdoor recreation to historical landmarks.
The town has a variety of budget-friendly motels and hotels, local bed and breakfasts, and a wealth of private vacation rentals. It has a long list of activities and adventures waiting for guests to enjoy. There are incredible bike trails, gorgeous lakes, and a historic railroad depot for exploring during your stay.
Food enthusiasts are in for a treat in Susanville. This town has plenty of options for dining, including pizza parlors, cafés, and authentic cultural restaurants. No matter what you crave, you will find just what your tastebuds desire in Susanville.
This town is a wonderful option for visitors to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Your adventures can continue in this town, where the excitement never ends.
Where To Eat in Lassen Volcanic National Park
There are 3 options for dining in Lassen Volcanic National Park. These options range from quick bites to sit-down restaurants. Take a look at the opportunities for dining in Lassen Volcanic National Park to see which place you want to add to your itinerary.
Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Drakesbad Guest Ranch is located in Warner Valley. This restaurant is open to the public, but guests must have a reservation to dine there. The dining room serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This historic ranch makes an incredible place to stop and enjoy a home-cooked meal.
The menu features dishes made with local and organic ingredients. There are also plenty of options for guests with special dietary needs, such as vegetarian and gluten-free diets. Drakesbad Guest Ranch is an excellent place for a fresh, delicious meal at Lassen Volcanic National Park before, during, or after your outings.
Lassen Café and Gift
Lassen Café and Gift is located near the southwest entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park in the Kohm Yah-me-nee Visitor Center. Lassen Café and Gift serves a menu of salads, fruit, soups, sandwiches, coffee, and soft-serve ice cream. Many options are healthy, organic, and local, so you can fuel your body with what it needs for your park excursions.
With indoor or outdoor seating available and gorgeous views of the nearby peaks, Lassen Café and Gift is an incredible option for refueling during your Lassen Volcanic National Park adventure.
Manzanita Lake Camper Store
The Manzanita Lake Camper Store is located at the Manzanita Lake Campground entrance. This camper store has ready-to-go meals and picnic items like sandwiches, snacks, grocery items, ice cream, and beverages. Whether packing a picnic or grabbing something to eat while camping, this dining option is always a great idea for a delicious and nutritious meal at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Facts
1. A New National Park Established
Lassen Volcanic National Park was established in August of 1916. This park was America’s 15th national park.
2. What’s in a Name?
Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lassen Peak were named after one of the first settlers in the Sacramento Valley. Peter Lassen discovered a path through the mountains and called it the Lassen Trail, which inspired the name of the peak and park.
3. First People of the Park
American Indians were the original people of the Lassen Volcanic National Park area. These tribes use the area as a meeting point and a seasonal camp. Later, the area was a big draw to explorers and pioneers searching for gold during the gold rush. These people helped to shape Lassen Volcanic National Park into what we have today.
4. Volcanoes of Every Kind
Lassen Volcanic National Park proudly showcases the 4 types of volcanoes found on earth. These volcano types include a shield, composite, cinder cone, and plug dome.
The Lassen area has been volcanically active for approximately 3 million years. The most recent eruptions in this area include Cinder Cone, around 350 years ago, and Lassen Peak, nearly 100 years ago. Today there are steam vents, mud pots, and active boiling springs, but no one knows when the next eruption will happen.
6. National Register of Historic Places
Several sites and landmarks in Lassen Volcanic National Park are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Nearly a dozen places in this park are listed on this register, including Drakesbad Guest Ranch, Loomis Museum, the Mount Harkness Fire Lookout, and the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway Historic District.
7. An Abundance of Animals
Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to a significant number of animals. This park houses 57 mammal species, roughly 216 kinds of birds, over 350 invertebrates, 9 species of fish, 6 types of amphibians, and 6 reptile species. This park can accommodate this impressive variety of animals because of the diverse ecological zones featured in the park.
8. Highest Road in the Cascades
Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway is the highest road in the Cascade Mountains, reaching 8,512 feet. This 30-mile road was constructed between 1925 and 1931, 10 years after Lassen Peak erupted.
9. Off Trail Hazards
The hydrothermal areas of Lassen Volcanic National Park are big draws to visitors. It is crucial that visitors stick to the trails and heed the warning signs in these areas. Visitors have been severely burned in the last decade due to traveling off-trail in the Devils Kitchen and Sulphur Works hydrothermal areas.
10. Highest Point in the Park
Lassen Peak is the highest point of elevation in Lassen Volcanic National Park. This mighty mountain stands at 10,456 feet.
11. An Exclusive Plant Species
Lassen Paintbrush is a bright pink wildflower exclusively found in Lassen Volcanic National Park. This plant has been found in 6 areas throughout the park. The most recent survey of Lassen Paintbrush was conducted in 2017 and identified 5,500 Lassen Paintbrush plants.
12. California’s Rarest Mammal
The Sierra Nevada red fox is one of the most rare mammals in California. The only known population of these rare foxes resides in Lassen Volcanic National Park. This fox is listed as a threatened species, and the park is working to conserve its numbers. Suppose you happen to see a Sierra Nevada Red Fox while exploring Lassen Volcanic National Park. In that case, you can help by reporting your observation to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Lassen Volcanic National Park is a world of wonder and history just waiting to be discovered. From hydrothermal areas and a variety of volcanoes to stunning lakes and remarkable trails, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy in this national park. Book your trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park and experience what draws half a million visitors worldwide annually.
Featured Image Credit: Steen Jepsen via Pixabay
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the cost of the entry for Lassen Volcanic National Park?
Entry fees are collected year-round at Lassen Volcanic National Park. A 7-day pass costs $30 during the busy season and $10 during the winter. For visitors entering on foot or by bicycle, the entry fee is $15.
How many days should I plan to spend at Lassen Volcanic National Park?
A 2- to 3-day trip at Lassen Volcanic National Park is recommended due to the many activities and the park’s vastness. This amount of time allows for exploring the park at a relaxed pace.
What is the weather like at Lassen Volcanic National Park?
The weather varies throughout the year at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Winter is frigid and snowy and typically begins in October. The snow doesn’t melt until July. Summer weather is warm and dry, with temperatures reaching a high of 85 degrees.
Can I bring my dog to Lassen Volcanic National Park?
Pets are welcome at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Typically, a dog can go wherever a car can go, including campgrounds, picnic areas, and parking lots. Pets are prohibited on all hiking trails, in all bodies of water, in visitor centers, and in park facilities. There are several regulations if bringing a pet to Lassen Volcanic National Park, including supervising the pet at all times, keeping the animal on a leash, and cleaning up after pet waste.
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