Lassen Volcanic Park, California

By | December 9, 2022

In the foothills of the Cascade Mountains in northern California’s Golden State is still active Mount Lassen, which last erupted in the early 1800s. Visitors will not only find breathtaking scenery here, but also a wondrous world of bubbling, hissing and bubbling mud pools and earth vents.

Until 1914 Lassen Peak was the primary landmark for pioneer Peter Lassen, who led emigrants across the mountains into California’s Central Valley. Before the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens, Mount Lassen, at 3,187 meters, was the only active volcano on the mainland United States. The approximately 300 eruptions between 1914 and 1917 devastated around 40,000 hectares of land. Part of the mountaintop was blown off in 1915 and the ash flew to Reno. The massive mountain in the Cascade Mountains of northern California is still active today. Numerous places on the flanks of the mountain provide evidence of the geological processes that have taken place here.

The mountain and its surroundings were declared a national park in 1916. Today, visitors can easily access the park via the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway. The winding road climbs to an altitude of 2,590 m and also passes points where visitors can see the volcanic activity of this monster. And the great thing about the 48 km Lassen Volcanic Highway is that you can traverse the entire national park from north to south (or vice versa).

Location and Size
According to thembaprograms, the 429 km² Lassen Volcanic Park is located in northern California about 80 km east of the city of Redding. From Reno it is approximately 260 km to the south entrance and approximately 290 km to the north entrance of the national park. It is about 375 km to San Francisco.

Getting there
The national park is accessible via the Interstate 5 exit at Red Bluff, on Highway 36 (from the south) or from the Interstate 5 exit at Redding, on Highway 44 (from the north). Both roads lead directly into the national park. Road 89 runs through the national park as Lassen Volcanic National Highway.

The east side of the park is accessible from the south via the US 36 exit to Chester onto CR-312 (to Warner Valley) and onto CR-318 (to Juniper Lake). Butte Lake to the east is accessible only from the north via Manzanita Lake and 13 miles further on SR-89 at Old Station Jct. onto 44 and then right onto Butte Lake Road (FR-32N21). These side roads are not paved and are only partially suitable for trailers and mobile homes.

Opening Hours and Seasons
The park is open year-round, but the Lassen Volcanic National Highway is closed during the winter—only as far north as Manzanita Lake and the Kohm Yah-mah-Vistor Center to the south. More information can be found on the Lassen National Park website:

The Lassen Volcanic National Park has a Mediterranean climate. Typical features of this climate are cool, wet, snowy winters and hot, dry summers. The weather is influenced by the North Pacific Plateau, a subtropical anticyclone. As a result, there are very few severe weather events in the park. The mountains prevent tornadoes, the warmer, wet winters prevent snowstorms, and Pacific hurricanes weaken over the ocean. The park offers very safe weather conditions all year round. From late October through late May (often even early June), Lassen Volcanic National Highway is closed due to snow.

Average temperatures in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California in °C
Month Jan Feb March Apr May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max 13 16 17 21 27 32 37 35 32 25 17 13
Min 2 4 5 8 11 17 18 17 15 10 5 2

If you come hiking, you should take good weatherproof clothing and wind/rain protection with you. Temperatures vary depending on altitude. The climate on the mountain is alpine.

Entrance fees
USD 30 for cars for 1-7 days; USD 25 for motorcycles with driver and passenger, USD 15 per person for bicycles and pedestrians – entries are valid for 7 days each.

America the Beautiful Annual Pass
The annual pass costs $80 and entitles you to visit over 2,000 US federal recreation areas and national parks for one year from the date of purchase. The entrance fee applies to the driver and all passengers of a private, non-commercial vehicle (or up to a maximum of 4 adults in total if per-person entrance fees are charged). Children under 16 are free. If you visit more than 4 national parks, it is usually worth buying the America the Beautiful Annual Pass. The pass can be purchased at many stores across the US and is also available in advance from various tour operators.

Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center
The year-round Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center (just past the south entrance to the park) is the ideal starting point for all activities at Lassen Volcanic Park. In addition to the exhibition room, there is a 20-minute film about the park here. Rangers are on site and will be happy to advise you on any hikes on the trails in the park.
The Lassen Cafe is attached to the Visitor Centerwith the shop, where you can buy not only souvenirs but also works of art by local artists. Also of note is the Lassen Association Bookstore, which stocks a variety of publications and maps of the area. Open daily from May to October from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Opening times vary during the winter months. The website provides information.

Loomis Museum
Located just off picturesque Manzanita Lake is the historic Loomis Museum, open all summer. There is also a permanent exhibition (including photos by BF Loomis, who photographed the volcano’s most recent eruption in 1914/15) and of course a film screening and a special bookstore (Lassen Association Educational Bookstore). Again, there are programs with rangers and numerous other activities. A hiking trail leads from the museum around Manzanita Lake, which offers fantastic views of Lassen Peak.

Lassen Volcanic Park, California