We live a short drive from Mount Rainier National Park and we love hiking the flanks of Mount Rainier. I’ve also always found fascinating the geo-thermal features of parks like Yellowstone: the plop, plop, plop of the sulfurous gas releases in the mud pots, the steam rising off the hot springs and of course the geysers. Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California in many ways combines the best of both of these experiences (minus the geysers), and it’s a relatively short drive from San Francisco.
Lassen Peak is an active volcano, part of both the Cascades (which also include Rainier and Mt. St. Helens) and the Ring of Fire. The park itself contains all four types of volcanoes found in the world – shield, composite, cinder cone, and plug dome. Lassen Peak is one of the largest plug dome volcanos in the world. Brokeoff Mountain, along with Pilot Pinnacle, Mount Diller, and Mount Conard, were once part of Mount Tehama, which was a large composite volcano. Prospect Peak is a small shield volcano and there are numerous examples of small cinder cones throughout the park.
Lassen Peak erupted relatively recently in May of 1915. Although a relatively small eruption by historical standards, it caused substantial damage to the Eastern slopes of the mountains, which today are known as the devastated area. As it has been over 100 years since the eruption, much of the “devastated” area is now forested and the name is hard to reconcile with today’s reality.
There are lots of hikes on the mountain, from the strenuous Lassen Peak and Brokeoff Mountain hikes to the relatively easy hikes of Bumpass Hell and Manzanita Lake loop. We were there only about 24 hours so we didn’t have time to explore nearly as much as we would have liked, but the park is beautiful and we’d love to go back someday.
We were scheduled to stay in the Summit Lake North campground, which looked quite nice. No hookups, but the sites were spaced out nicely and you can’t beat the setting. Unfortunately, due to record snowfall last winter and tree damage, Summit Lake North didn’t open for the season until July 28th and we were planning to stay there July 27th. That’s the latest the park has opened since the 1930’s.
Instead, we stayed at Living Springs RV resort, about 20 minutes from the northwest entrance to the park. Overall, I’d recommend Living Springs if you can’t get in to Summit Lake North. Full hookups, the spaces were nestled among tall trees and it was very quiet the night we stayed there. There is a nice walk down to a small lake and a fast moving river, and the hosts were quite nice.
I took lots of photos so enjoy!