Lassen Volcanic National Park

Summit Lake of Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a United States national park that is located at the southern terminus of the Cascade Mountains in the Shasta Cascades region of California, approximately 50 miles east of Redding. Within the park's 165 square miles / 106,000 acres are numerous volcanic features including four types of volcanoes, steam vents, mud pots, and painted dunes. In addition, with nearly 79,000 acres designated as wilderness area and fewer than 400,000 visitors per year, the park is an ideal place for a nature getaway.



Lassen Peak National Monument was established by proclamation of President Theodore Roosevelt on 6 May 1907 to be administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Volcanic eruptions from Lassen Peak in 1914 and 1915 resulted in national publicity. The two monuments and surrounding areas were included in Lassen Volcanic National Park, established in 1916, administered by the National Park Service of the Interior.


Beneath Lassen Volcanic's peaceful forests and gem-like lakes lies evidence of a turbulent and fiery past. 600,000 years ago, the collision and warping of continental plates led to violent eruptions and the formation of lofty Mount Tehama (also called Brokeoff Volcano.) After 200,000 years of volcanic activity, vents and smaller volcanoes on Tehama's flanks-including Lassen Peak-drew magma away from the main cone. Hydrothermal areas ate away at the great mountain's bulk. Beneath the onslaught of Ice Age glaciers, Mount Tehama crumbled and finally ceased to exist. But the volcanic landscape lived on: in 1914, Lassen Peak awoke. The Peak had its most significant activity in 1915 and minor activity through 1921.

All four types of volcanoes in the world are found in the park. Over 150 miles of trails and a culturally significant scenic highway provide access to volcanic wonders including steam vents, mudpots, boiling pools, volcanic peaks, and painted dunes.

Flora and fauna

Although Lassen is primarily known for its volcanic geology, the park boasts a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Over 700 flowering plant species grace the park, providing shelter and food for 250 vertebrates as well as a host of invertebrates including insects.

This great diversity of life forms is due to two factors: the geographic location of the park and the abundance of habitats that occur there.

Situated at the southern end of the Cascade Range geologic province, Lassen Volcanic National Park lies at the crossroads of three great biological provinces: the Cascades range to the north, the Sierra Nevada mountains to the south and the Great Basin desert to the east.

The myriad habitats of Lassen Volcanic National Park are produced by variations in environmental conditions such as elevation (5,000 to 10,457 feet), moisture (precipitation is greater on the western than the eastern side of the park), substrate (rock type and soil depth), temperature, insolation (amount of sun) and prior disturbance (both natural and human-caused).


Snow covers much of the park mid-October through mid-June. The Park Road (the main road that connects Hwy. 89 through the Park) is usually closed late October through mid-June. During years of heavy snowfall, the road may open significantly later. Please call the Park for road and trail condition updates. Many of the main park attractions are snow covered and inaccessible by car and foot during the winter. The months of July, August, and September may bring mostly sunny skies with warm daytime temperatures and cool night time temperatures.

Get in

By plane

The nearest major airports are in Redding and Chico. The closest major airport is on I-5 in Sacramento with additional options in Reno.

By car

The best access to the park is by private automobile. Auto rental services are available in Redding, Red Bluff, Chico, Susanville or Reno. The park is located fifty miles east of Red Bluff on highway 36, and 50 miles east of Redding on the Lassen Peak Highway, California Route 44.

By bus

Greyhound and Trailways bus lines serve cities within 60 miles of the park, although neither visits the park.

By foot

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) is a well known trail that extends along the West coast of the United States, from Mexico to Canada. It passes through California, Oregon, and Washington State.


Park entrance fees are $10 for private vehicles and $5 for individuals on foot, bike and motorcycle. All entrance fees are valid for seven days. The Annual Pass is available for $25, allowing park entry for one year.

There are several passes that allow free entry for groups traveling together in a private vehicle or individuals on foot or on bike. These passes are valid at all national parks including Lassen Volcanic National Park:

In 2016 the National Park Service will offer several days on which entry is free for all national parks: January 18 (Martin Luther King Jr. Day), April 16-24 (National Park Week), August 25-28 (National Park Service's 100th birthday weekend), September 24 (National Public Lands Day), and November 11 (Veterans Day).

Get around

The main roads in the park are paved, although many are closed by snow except from June until September. Allow at least three hours to drive across the park and to make stops. Current road conditions are available online.



Lassen Peak


There are limited options within the park, but the neighboring towns offer a handful of stores and restaurants.


Additional lodging options may be found outside of the park in the town of Mill Creek.



Stay safe

Be aware that the majority of the Park is at high elevations so care should be taken to avoid altitude sickness.

Always stay on the paths and trails around geothermal areas. This mineral crusts can form over mudpots and hot springs that appear to be solid ground. These crusts can collapse leading to immersion in boiling water. The Bumpass Hell geothermal area is named for a man who broke through a crust and ended up having his leg amputated due to the burns he sustained.

Go next

Routes through Lassen Volcanic National Park

Mount Shasta Burney  N  S  Mill Creek Truckee

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, May 07, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.