Volcanic mountains

A Guide to Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California


This national park is home to some of the most unique landscapes in all of California, and here’s what to do while there.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the national parks in Northern California. The main attraction is Lassen Peak, one of the largest plug-in dome volcanoes in the world. Lassen Peak is considered an active volcano surrounded by boiling mud pots, fumaroles, and hot springs. Although there are no glaciers in this national park, there are 14 permanent snowfields due to ice scars.

All types of volcanoes can be found in this national park: plug-shaped dome (Lassen Peak), composite (Brokeoff Volcano), shield (Prospect Peak), and cinder cone (Cinder Cone). The United States Geological Survey continuously monitors volcanic activity in the area. The mineral-rich volcanic soil contributes to the lush vegetation of the park.


When should we go

There are attractions all year round. Summer (July to September) attracts the most visitors. Those who visit during the summer have full access to activities and services. Spring (April to June) and fall (October to November) attract fewer visitors. Some services and activities are closed due to changing weather and declining admission rates.

During the winter (December to March) attracts the smallest number of visitors. Fortunately, fun winter activities like skiing and snowboarding are replacing summer activities.

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Camping

Lassen Volcanic National Park has a total of 13 campgrounds scattered around the property. Reservations are strongly recommended, but some campgrounds allow admission to last minute campers on a first come, first served basis. Customers can make reservations and inquiries on the Recreation.gov website.

All campgrounds have a picnic table, fire ring, and bear resistant storage locker. Be on the lookout for announcements and updates as some campgrounds may be closed for various reasons (forest fires, snow, extreme weather). Here are the campsites:

Juniper Lake Group

Butte Lake Group

South Lake Summit

North Lake Summit

Lake of the Butte

Manzanita Lake Group Camping

Lost Creek Group

Manzanita Lake

Summit of Corral Lake

Warner Valley Campground

Manzanita Camping Lake Cabins

Juniper Lake Storage Yard

Butte Lake Stock Corral

Trek

The best time to hike is from June to October. Check the condition of the trails before setting off, as some of them may be closed due to snow; in the event of a fire, it may be considered dangerous due to the smoke and haze. To be on the safe side, follow the fixed routes and stay on track. The hike can be risky even for the most experienced hikers!

Here are some of the most popular hiking trails:

  • Pacific Crest Trail (part of National Trail)
  • Brokeoff Mountain – 7 miles
  • Bumpass Hell – 3 miles
  • Mill Creek Falls – 3.8 miles
  • Ridge Lakes – 2 miles
  • Pic Lassen – 5 miles
  • King’s Creek Falls – 3 miles
  • Manzanita Creek – 7 miles
  • Summit Lake to Cluster / Twin Lakes Loop – 11 miles
  • Snag Lake Loop – 13 miles
  • Prospect Peak – 6.6 miles

Winter activities

Many facilities and areas may be closed during the winter, but this only leaves room for winter activities. Here are some options to consider if you are going during the winter months:

  • Sled
  • Snow camping
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snowboard

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Wildlife

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to hundreds of species of animals. Due to its rich biodiversity and the combination of different habitats, these animals thrived and survived in the park.

The administration of the Park is setting up signs indicating the animals to be monitored. These include black bears, red foxes, mule deer, cougar, chipmunks, raccoons, and coyotes.

Access

The Lassen Volcanic National Park is accessible by these routes:

  • State Route (SR) 44/89 – Northwest Entrance
  • SR 36/89 – Southwest entrance
  • Caribou Wilderness Trails

There are a total of 5 entrances to the park. The park is open every day of the year, unless otherwise specified. Therefore, it is not necessary to make reservations.

Admission fees:

  • Winter pass – $ 10, Valid 7 days from December 1 to April 15
  • Vehicle pass – $ 30, valid for 1 to 7 days from April 16 to November 30
  • Motorcycle pass – $ 25, Valid for one motorcycle regardless of the number of passengers, Valid for 7 days
  • Individual Pass – $ 15, Entrance fee per person in a non-commercial / organized group, Valid for 7 days

Entrance pass:

  • Lassen Annual Pass – $ 5, valid for 1 year from date of purchase

Temperature

The northern California region has a warm Mediterranean-influenced summer with hot summers, cold winters, and high rainfall. It experiences drastic climate changes throughout the year.

In January, the temperature peaks of around 40.4 degrees Fahrenheit (4.7 C) to lows of around 20.8 degrees Fahrenheit (-6.2 C). In July, the temperature peaks of around 88.4 degrees Fahrenheit to lows of 49.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

Like any state park in the United States, Lassen Volcanic National Park is a great place for some outdoor fun. There is so much to do and explore all year round. On the one hand, it is a huge park, where outdoor adventure enthusiasts can enjoy nature. On the other hand, it is the perfect place for those interested in geology and volcanology. They might like to learn more about volcanic activity and its impact on the environment.

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