A weekend trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park

A weekend trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen National Park is a highly underrated park in my opinion. The park is like Yellowstone’s forgotten second cousin which doesn’t get the touristy attention it deserves. The park itself is huge and takes more than a short weekend to go over, just like most of the gorgeous national parks. The volcanic history, the ash ridden hikes and the bountiful fir trees just adds more magic to the already scenic park.

If you haven’t been to Yellowstone National Park but want to witness similar natural phenomenon, Lassen is your best bet. For information planning your trip to Yellowstone, visit my post named Yellowstone National Park.

Getting here:

Driving is your best bet here. The 250 mile drive takes about 4 hours to get to from San Francisco via the Manzanita entrance. Within the park, you will have to rely on the map provided at the ranger station as there is very limited cellphone coverage. Check out the park map here MAP


It can get really hot during summer so apply generous amounts of sunscreen.

Carry plenty of water with you.

I highly recommend having a pair of sunglasses and a hat.

You can get really dusty on the hikes so carry extra socks!

You will reach a height of 8000 feet and the air tends to be thinner here. Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself grasping for breath!

Where to stay:

Although you might find hotels and Airbnb’s in and around the park, your best bet to adore the park is to camp out. I find myself not talking a lot about the joy of camping at parks but my camping experiences tend to be my best ones. There are a lot of walk-in campsites within the park and if you arrive before 11 am on a weekend, you will easily find a spot without too much fuss.

If you want to live in a hotel or in an Airbnb, Redding has a lot of really affordable options (less than $100.00 per night) but it is an hour’s drive from Redding to get to the Lassen Park’s entrance.

When to go:

Best time to visit the park is between March to October. The park tends to get heavy snowfall during winter and the roads remain closed for most of the cold months. Be sure to check the park website for latest weather updates and plan accordingly.

What to eat:

There is a serious lack of restaurants within the park. Your best bet is to carry food. There are grocery stores and coffee shops within the park at locations such as Lake Manzanita and the Kohm Ya-mah-nee Visitor Center. I would still recommend carrying snacks and energy bars with you.

Things to do in Lassen Volcanic Park:

  • Lake Manzanita:


We drove into Redding on a Friday and rested up before starting fresh on Saturday. Drive in from Redding directly into Lake Manzanita. This lake is one of the most popular camping spots in the park and has amenities like bathroom, toilet, grocery store and kayak rentals. The lake itself is gorgeous and huge. There is a hiking trail spanning about 2 miles going all around the lake. If you have time try other hikes in the area such as the Reflection lake trail and the Craigs Lake trail. This is a great spot to star gaze as well.

  • Butte Lake:

Butte Lake is about 32 miles from Manzanita lake. Drive down there via Old Station. Be sure to use your maps as the road to get here can be really confusing. Part of the road to Butte lake is unpaved although most vehicles can make it through the gravel road. Butte lake has more secluded and limited campsites.


  • Cider Cone Trail:

One of the most popular trails in the park is the Cider Cone Trail located off Butte Lake. This 4 mi roundtrip loop is challenging as it is gorgeous. Most of the hike is pretty straightforward if you ignore the ashy trail leading up to the base of the hill. Giant pine trees surround the trail leading to the fantastic lava beds and onto the base. Even if you don’t feel inclined to hike to the top, I would suggest going till the base to enjoy the trees and the calm.

Be prepared to be covered in dust from the gravely hike trail. The loose sand makes it a little more challenging to hike although the hard work does pay off.


The fantastic Lava bed was formed during the 1650s Cider Cone Eruption. On the foothill of the Cider Cone is the last bit of shade you will find. Take full advantage of this before you begin your almost vertical ascend to the peak in gravel. Every step you take will drag you 2 steps back. The peak feels very far from reach and there is no side-rails to hold onto. This makes the hike very challenging. You climb 500feet in less than half a mile and it will tire you. But it is all worth it in the end.


The painted dunes visible from the top along with the Fantastic belt on one side and the gorgeous forest on the other makes this a wonderful spot to sit back and enjoy nature at its best. Take your time up here to regain energy before you make your way back down.


The Cider cone trail along with other hikes will tire you enough to call it a day.

  • Devastated Area:

Start off day 2 by driving to the Summit Lake via Devastated Area. If you want to learn more about the history of Mt. Lassen, it’s eruption in the early 1900’s and it’s status today, visit the Devastated Area. This 0.5 mile hike is suitable for kids and is wheelchair accessible.

  • Cold Boiling Lake:


We hiked the 3 mi roundtrip hike to Cold Boiling lake instead of the Bumpass Hell trail as the Bumpass trail was closed when we visited. If you like lakes, I recommend doing this hike but the lake is not really boiling or has any sulphur works. For the geyser experience, I suggest the Sulphur works or Devils Kitchen hike.

  • Bumpass Hell:


Bumpass Hell is the park’s most visited location. It is also the park’s largest hydrothermal area. With its mud-pots, boiling water and rotten egg smell, I deem it mini Yellowstone! You can read about how the shape of the mountains has changed from ice age to during the volcanic eruption and today. It is interesting to learn about and actually see nature taking a course of its own. Quick Note: This is one of the rare places where you get cellphone coverage.

  • Lake Helen:


On your drive out of the park, you can stop by Lake Helen for a light snack/picnic. This gorgeous lake is located at the bottom of Mt Lassen. Expect it to be chilly here during the early summer months. The road is extremely scenic and there are loads of places you can stop your car to just take a minute to appreciate nature.

  • Sulphur Works: The most easily accessible location in the park, Sulphur works is just off the road. You can see boiling mud pots, smell the strong sulphur and also see how this affects the rocks around it. Since the spot is so easily accessible, there is always a lot of foot and car traffic in the area.

We stopped at the Kohm Ya-mah-nee Visitor Center on our way out to grab some souvenirs and headed back to the bay. So there you have it - A fun 2 days at Lassen Volcanic Park!


Other locations that you can check out if you have time:

  • Bumpass trailhead (The trail was closed when we visited but it is one of the popular trails here. It is a 3 mile roundtrip hike)
  • Kings Creek Falls (3 mi roundtrip)
  • Lassen Peak (It is a really hard 4-5 hour roundtrip hike to the peak of Mt Lassen and I would only recommend it if you are accustomed to hiking at altitudes. You will be gaining a lot of height in a short amount of time. This is a 5 mi roundtrip hike)
  • ![image10](/assets/img/lassen10.png){:height="800px" width="840px"}
  • Boiling Spring Lake (2.5 mi roundtrip)
  • Juniper Lake

Amrita Savadatti

Hey there!
Let me tell you a little something about me: I’m an Engineer by profession but was bitten by the travel bug a long long time ago. I always talked about writing about my adventures and this is as good a time as ever to start! I also wanted to share my love for traveling with all the other wanderers out there and maybe help you guys plan your next big adventure. The world is shrinking and it is possible to go all over and speak to different people and be a part of something that you never thought you could be. I have been able to be a part of a few of these adventures and I'm here to share my thoughts with all of you out there. Hope you enjoy reading the blogs and my travel escapades.

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