California Parks


Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

38050 Highway 36 East
Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA 96063 

Vehicle Entrance Fee approx. $30 is valid for up to 7 consecutive days from the day of purchase at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Payable in-person at park entrances. Self-registration when not staffed. See fee free admission days

Lassen Volcanic National Park connects with Highway 89 north and south of the park and inside the park covers 30 miles, requiring approximately an hour to drive. The best time to visit the park for a drive-through tour or hiking is August and September. The road may be closed from late October to mid-June, but there is parking and access to the area at both the north and south entrances.

With elevations ranging from 5,000 to Lassen Peak at 10,457 feet, there's snow on the mountain peaks most of the year, even though the surrounding region experiences hot summers with temperatures often around 100 degrees. During the few summer months that the road through the park is open, the temperature is cool and pleasant, even cold sometimes. It gets cold and night and guests are advised to expect snow anytime of year.

While the dominant feature of this protected forest is the spectacular Lassen Peak which burst into eruption in May 1914, the trip is like a tour through Disneyland or some fantasy excursion filled with a variety of things to look at and enjoy. Around every bend you see nature's handiwork. You can stop your car and park wherever you like and even drive slowly to soak up the ride. Throughout the park the rock formations cast a greyish color and in some locations you can look at the tumble of lava flow seen in rocks that actually depict the volcano's path less than 100 years ago.

Visit a Volcano - beneath Lassen's forest floor lies a turbulent storm of heat. 600,000 years ago, the collision and warping of continental plates led to violent eruptions and the formation of Mt. Tehama, Brokeoff Volcano. After 200,000 years of volcanic activity, vents and smaller volcanoes on Tehama's flanks (including Lassen Peak), drew magma away from the main cone. Hydrothermal areas ate away at the great mountain's bulk. Beneath the onslaught of Ice Age glaciers, Mt. Tehama crumbled and finally ceased to exist. But in 1914 Lassen Peak erupted with activity through 1921.

Lassen Volcanic became a national park in 1916 because of its significance as an active volcanic landscape. All four types of volcanoes in the world are found in the park. Over 150 miles of trails and a culturally significant scenic highway provide access to volcanic wonders including steam vents, mudpots, boiling pools, volcanic peaks, and painted dunes.

Guests who walk along the constructed plankways or bridges with guardrails to explore the mudpots and steam at Bumpass Hell are in for a surprise when the get a whiff of the sulfur stench as a cloud drifts through the air and catches you unaware.

Ambitious visitors can hike 2.5 miles up a 2,000 foot incline to enjoy the view from the summit of Mount Lassen. You can also seek out treasures tucked away in the park like Kings Creek Falls and Paradise Meadows, which sits in a glacier carved cirque at 7,100 feet elevation.

Visitors can find services outside the Park in Susanville and Chester or within the Park at the Manzanita Lake Campers Store. Several campgrounds and the Drakesbad Guest Ranch offer the only lodging within the Park.

Special events and ranger programs are hosted by the park mostly in the summer months when both visitor centers, Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and Loomis Museum (summer only) are open. One of the highlights to summer events is the Dark Sky Festival which has been hosted in the park for a number of years.

Native Americans frequented Lassen during the summer mostly. The meeting point for at least four American Indian groups that included Atsugewi, Yana, Yahi and Maidu shows evidence of hunting and gathering. Stone points, knives, and metals are the few artifacts uncovered and on display at Loomis Museum.

In 1828 Jedediah Smith passed through on his overland trek to the West Coast. The park was named for Peter Lassen, who guided settlers to the region.

In addition to driving and hiking, you can backpack, camp, boat, cross country ski, fish, bird watch, horseback ride, kayak and even swim in the cold waters. The park is open 24 hours. A fee is charged to enter and additional fees are charged for camping. Visit the National Parks website for current information on road closures and any regulations you should know before you go. For those who cross country or snow ski, it is recommended to drop by the station upon entry and let them know your plans.

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