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Lassen Park: The Mother of all Scenic Viewpoints

By Jon Baiocchi
Lassen Volcanic National Park
was established by Congress in 1916. Although the least-visited of the parks in our National Park System, Lassen Volcanic National Park is a special place where bubbling mud pits, hissing steam vents, and boiling water come up from below the earth’s surface and escape in clouds of misty wonders.

Mt. Lassen, Plumas County, MyOutdoorBuddy.com

At 10, 475 feet Mt. Lassen is the last major peak in the southern end of the Cascade Range and remains an active volcano to this day. It last erupted in 1921 leaving a wake of devastation where visitors can climb to the summit on a well maintained trail to see for themselves. From the top the views are amazing where one can see the Trinity Alps, Mt. Shasta, Lake Almanor, and the remains of Mt. Tehama, an even bigger ancient volcano from which Mt. Lassen was formed.

Hiking trails are the major attraction here in the summer months where tourist can see a few of the 700 species of plants and animals that call Lassen land their home. There are even plants like the Lassen Smelowskia flower that only grow in the park and are on the Threatened and Endangered Species list. Take a trip into the Bumpass Hell valley and see firsthand an active geothermal area with its sights, smells, and sounds. To keep visitors safe there are well constructed board walks that wind through the valley and interpretive signage explaining the different physical and environmental features the area has to offer.

Manzanita Lake, Lassen National Volcanic Park, MyOutdoorBuddy.com

To the north there is Manzanita Lake which offers great trout fishing and camping plus views of the north face of Mt. Lassen and the mud flows through the Chaos Crags area. In the eastern part of the park you’ll find many lakes dotting the land and small cinder cones popping up here and there. This is where most of the backpacking takes place and is a great place to find solitude and zero crowds. Map your way across and through the enchanted woods to your heart’s content.

Lassenn Park, Plumas County, MyOutdoorBuddy.com
Looking north from Kohm Yah-mah-nee visitor center on January 8, 2013. Photo courtesy of National Park Service

Kohm Yah-mah-nee visitor’s center built in 2008 features an impressive timber lodge at the southwest entrance of the park. The lodge is named Kohm Yah-mah-nee which translates to “Snowy Mountain” in Native American Maidu language. Every room is themed and walks the visitor through the many highlights the park has to offer while explaining the science behind how a volcano works. In winter the lodge provides a place for the snowy adventurer to warm up and partake in the many activities such as Ranger led snowshoe tours, cross country skiing, or epic backcountry powder stashes for snowboarding and skiing.

From November to June the road through the park remains closed with an average of 30 feet of snow that keeps it buried. Once the road is plowed out in summer tourists and hikers show up again in anticipation of a Cascade delight. Here another summer drifts by carried by the misty clouds of volcanic steam. Lassen Volcanic National Park is a must see attraction and is undoubtedly the most beautiful hidden gem in all of Northern California.

Welcome to Lassen Park!

Photos by Jon Baiocchi, Christine Elder

For additional information on Lassen Park, visit these websites:

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center webcam

 

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