While plotting our eastward trek, Barry noticed Lassen Volcanic National Park on the map, and we decided to check it out. The park is located in northern California east of Redding and was right on our way to Reno, Nevada, where we were spending one night, so why not stop in? With our annual park pass, it would be free, and we always enjoy visiting national parks, especially low-key, less crowded ones. This one certainly met that description.
Here's a map showing where the park is located. We had never heard of it and are willing to bet most reading it haven't either!
I can't improve upon the fine description of the park on the National Park Service site so will include it here:
Explore the Undiscovered. Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to smoking fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to mold the land. Lassen Volcanic offers opportunities to discover the wonder and mysteries of volcanoes and hot water for visitors willing to explore the undiscovered.
We took a short hike to check out Manzanita Lake. It was beautiful and so peaceful. We saw only one other person on the trail!
On the way back from the lake, I was delighted to see a beautiful Stellar's Jay perfectly posing for a photo. These birds are very common in this part of the country, but exotic to folks from the East and Midwest, like us!
From the drive through the park, we caught a glimpse of the highest peak in the park, gorgeous snow-capped Lassen Peak (10457'). It was breathtaking! There is a trail to the top, but it is only open a few times a year to a limited number of hikers.
We had to take a self-timer photo here!
The road climbed and climbed, and as it climbed, the temperature fell. Finally, we reached the highest (driveable) point, over 8000 feet in elevation.
There are several lakes in the park. Lake Helen was small but very blue. So pretty!
Near the end of our driving tour, we stopped at "Sulfur Works" to view the park's most easily accessed hydrothermal area featuring boiling mudpots and fumaroles (steam vents).
Here's a video we took of a boiling mudpot. Very cool to me!
If you're ever in northern California and have a chance to make it to this "hidden gem" of a National Park, go. You won't regret it! I only wish we'd had more time to hike and explore all its treasures.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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