Lassen Volcanic National Park— Mailing Address: PO Box 100 Mineral, CA 96063, Phone: (530) 595-4480, Website: https://www.nps.gov/lavo/index.htm
Northern California is home to acres of picturesque Napa Valley vineyards, miles of the dramatic Pacific coastline—and Lassen Volcanic National Park, with hydrothermal features from roaring fumaroles (steam and volcanic-gas vents) and thumping mud pots to boiling pools, and steaming ground. If you’ve had a yen to enjoy the beauties of nature, from to meadows graced with wildflower to crystal clear mountain lakes, or to be awed by the power that exists below the surface, this more than 100,000- acre park is your must-see destination.
Lassen is the fifteenth national park established by Congress and one of the oldest in the nation, according to the National Park Service (NPS). In 2016, Lassen celebrated its 100th birthday together with more than 500,000 visitors who traveled to its location at the southern end of the Cascade Mountain Range, 130 miles north of Sacramento, California.
Besides hydrothermal areas such as Sulphur Works and Cold Boiling Lake, you can explore the 150-plus miles of hiking trails, enjoy ranger-led programs or leave the road behind for some non-motorized boating on the many lakes throughout the park. While you’re visiting the park, keep a watchful eye out for the Sierra Nevada red fox (SNRF), one of the rarest mammals in California found only in Lassen and the Sonora Pass area near Yosemite National Park.
Worried about erupting volcanoes? Put your fears to rest According to the Lassen Volcanic Center, Lassen area volcanoes tend to erupt infrequently, with the most recent (and relatively small) ones occurring between 1914 and 1917.
Lassen also has numerous special events planned, from field seminars from June to September to the Lassen Dark Sky Festival in August. And come winter, you can explore the southwest area of the park, where skiing, snowshoeing, and sledding are among the activities.
Lassen is also committed to providing an ever-increasing level of accessibility and has designed and built new facilities as well as rehabilitated older buildings using principles of universal design. Interpretive exhibits, audio tours, and accessible paths and campsites are among the options available. For details about accessibility in the park, download a copy of the Accessibility Guide.
At Lassen, service animals are allowed in all facilities and on all trails, with the exception of areas closed by the superintendent to protect park resources. But they must be leashed, and pet waste must be disposed of in a trash bin. (Note: bring your own pet waste bags.)
Tips from Our Campers
Steve and Karen Thole, who share their camping experiences on their blog, visited Lassen Volcanic National Park for the first time in 2008. “Lassen is one of our favorite parks,” said Steve. “It offers all of the geothermal features of Yellowstone and awesome hiking opportunities but requires far less driving and there are far fewer fellow visitors.”
“We also took an awesome hike on the Kings Creek Falls Trail,” said Steve. “Still on our list of future adventures in Lassen is a hike to Bumpass Hell Basin. Currently, the direct trail is undergoing rehabilitation but the basin can be accessed from the King’s Creek Picnic Area.”
Here are more details about Lassen Volcanic National Park from its website.
Entrance Passes and Other Fees
A vehicle pass is required for all vehicles entering the park.
- Vehicle Pass $30—Valid for 1-7 days at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
- Winter Pass $10—Valid for 1-7 days at Lassen Volcanic National Park between December 1 and April 15.
- Motorcycle Entry Pass $25—Valid for one motorcycle regardless of the amount of passengers. Valid for 7 days at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
- Individual Entry Pass $15—Per person entrance fee for a visitor traveling on foot, bicycle, or for individuals traveling together in a vehicle as a non-commercial, organized group. Valid for 7 days at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
- Annual Pass $55—Valid for one year from the month of purchase at Lassen Volcanic National Park.
U.S. citizens and permanent residents with a permanent physical, mental, or sensory impairment that severely limits one or more major life activities are eligible for the free lifetime interagency access pass. The access pass provides a 50 percent discount on some expanded amenity fees charged for facilities and services. The access pass can be obtained in person or through the mail.
Lassen also has Special Use Permits (SUPs) for specific events or activities that provide a benefit to an individual, group, or organization, rather than the public at large as well as for activities that require some degree of management by the National Park Service to protect park resources and the public interest.
Go here for more fee information.
Lassen Volcanic National Park has several RV-friendly sites. (Note: Some of the park’s roads could be challenging for RVs. Visit this page for more details.) While there are no RV hookups in the park, there is a water filling station and a dump station at Manzanita Lake available for a $5 fee.[i]
These include the Butte Lake Campground, Manzanita Lake Campground, Summit Lake Campground (North and South), Warner Valley, Butte Lake Group Site, Lost Creek and Manzanita Lake Group Site, plus two stock corrals: Butte Lake and Summit Lake. Check individual campground pages for more details, reservation and fee information.
Note: If you’re traveling on the Lassen National Park Highway, from the southwest boundary to the north boundary, there are vehicle size restrictions. Vehicles with widths in excess of 102 inches (8.5 feet) and vehicle-trailer combinations in excess of 540 inches (45 feet) in total length are prohibited. More information on park laws and policies are available by download here.
Laws and Policies
Like other national parks, Lassen has rules and regulations for visitors, with an eye toward protecting both the park and those who visit it.
Pets are permitted anywhere a car may go: roads and road shoulders (not snow-covered), campgrounds, picnic areas, and parking lots. However, they are not permitted on any hiking trail, in the park backcountry (including snow-covered roads or trails), in any body of water, or inside visitor centers or other park facilities. And pet owners are responsible for picking up pet waste and disposing of it properly.
For more information about policies regarding alcoholic beverages, ATVs and motorbikes, drones, forearms and other items, visit the Laws and Policies page.
For more about the National Park System, check out our post, Plan a Visit to A National Park.