Lassen County
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Visitor Guide
530-365-7500 or Toll Free: 1-800-4742782
Hwy 89 Mineral, CA 96063
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The very existence of Lassen Volcanic National Park is linked to a loud awakening of Lassen Peak in 1914. This was a beginning of a seven-year cycle of sporadic volcanic outbursts with the major eruption occurring on May 19, 1915, with a massive collapse of the summit crater spilling flowing lava towards the Sacramento Valley. Three days later a great explosion blasted out a new crater. This created an enormous mushroom cloud some seven miles into the stratosphere. The area was designated a National Park in 1916 because of its significance as an active volcanic landscape.

The park is a compact laboratory of volcanic phenomena and associated thermal features. Several groups of hot springs and fumaroles remain as remnants of this volcanic activity. Most of these lie in, or are closely adjacent to, Brokeoff Volcano’s caldera. When entering the park at the southern end, the first easily accessible volcanic area is called Sulphur Works. Adjacent to Hwy. 89, it is definitely worth the stop to see nature releasing a small sample of its fiery core. In the Warner Valley, (accessible only in the summer months from Chester) two hot springs deliver clear boiling water to the earth’s surface. This natural source provides a constant supply of hot water for the Drakesbad Guest Ranch swimming pool.

Back on the byway, a few miles north of Sulphur Works, is the parking area for Bumpass Hell and Lake Helen. Bumpass Hell is an approximate one hour hike and is well worth the outing. It is the largest geothermal feature in Lassen Park. In 1864, Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, a well known hunter and mountain man, discovered this area.  He was the first known person to accidentally step through the thin crust and suffered a severe burn which eventually led to the amputation of one of his legs. Therefore, this area provided his own personal hell and the area has been known as Bumpass Hell ever since.

Continuing on the byway just a short distance to the north is the parking area for climbing Lassen Peak. The parking area, just over 8,000 feet, provides access to an easy trail to the 10,457 summit. This several hour hike to the top offers unparalleled views of all of Northern California. Other great hikes in the park include the Kings Creek Trail and Falls, as well as Summit Lake with both trails accessing the Pacific Crest Trail to the east of the highway.

On the north edge of the park is Manzanita Lake. This area has the most accessible camping in the park as well as a park store. Loomis Museum, near Manzanita Lake, is named after B.F. Loomis who as an amateur photographer and naturalist took the invaluable photos of the Lassen Peak eruptions in 1914, 1915 and 1917. His early photographs were some of the first published after Lassen Peak began erupting in 1914. His photographic work and eye witness reports helped develop the nation’s interest and contributed to the establishment of Lassen as a national park. Loomis owned all the property around Manzanita Lake and his love for the new park encouraged him to donate his property in order to preserve this incredible asset.

A stop in the small museum provides both the photographic and interpretive description of the volcanic nature of this prized park. In an era that all too often ignores the importance of nature and special places, Lassen remains a sacred and enchanting destination. It is truly an enriching national park experience.

Drive Tips
Distance: 33 miles
Minimum Driving Time:  2 to 4 hours
Best Time to go: Late May -November

Shasta Cascade Wonderland Association
1699 HWY 273, Anderson, CA 96007 | (P) 530-365-7500 | (F) 530-365-1258
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