Lassen Volcanic Overview

Lassen Volcanic National Park, located in northeastern California, USA, stands as a vibrant testament to the Earth’s volcanic and hydrothermal power. Encompassing over 106,000 acres (about 429 square kilometers), this remarkable park showcases a stunning array of volcanic features, including steaming fumaroles, boiling springs, and the park’s centerpiece, Lassen Peak. Lassen Peak is one of the largest plug dome volcanoes in the world and last erupted in the early 20th century, a series of events that led to the park’s establishment in 1916 to protect and study this unique volcanic landscape.

Situated at the southernmost end of the Cascade Range, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers a diverse range of environments, from lush mountain forests and clear alpine lakes to stark volcanic landscapes. The park’s varied elevation, which ranges from about 5,300 feet to 10,457 feet at the summit of Lassen Peak, supports a wide array of plant and animal life, making it a hotspot for biodiversity.

The park is renowned for its hydrothermal sites, such as Bumpass Hell, a boardwalk-accessible area with boiling pools and bubbling mud pots, showcasing the powerful forces beneath the Earth’s crust. Sulphur Works, another hydrothermal area, offers visitors a glimpse of the park’s dynamic geothermal activity right near the main road.

Lassen Volcanic National Park provides a wealth of recreational opportunities, including hiking, camping, and snowshoeing, allowing visitors to explore its natural wonders up close. The park’s extensive trail system includes over 150 miles of trails that traverse through its varied landscapes, from serene lakeside paths to challenging mountain summits.

A destination for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and those fascinated by geology, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers an immersive experience into the forces that shape our planet, highlighting the beauty and power of volcanic landscapes.

advertisement banner
Park Map
advertisement banner

Lassen Volcanic National Park Highlights


Lassen Volcanic National Park, a landscape sculpted by volcanic activity, is a haven for diverse wildlife species, each adapted to thrive in the park’s unique ecosystems, from its steaming fumaroles to its lush forests and clear mountain lakes, offering visitors a chance to witness the resilience of nature amidst a backdrop of dramatic geological features.

Black Bear Common throughout the park, Black Bears are often observed foraging for berries and insects, reminding visitors of the wildness that pervades Lassen Volcanic.

Mule Deer Graceful Mule Deer roam the meadows and forests, easily recognizable by their large ears and the black tip on their tails, a serene presence in the landscape.

Mountain Lion The secretive Mountain Lion, or cougar, is a rare but awe-inspiring sight, emblematic of the untamed spirit that defines the wilderness of Lassen Volcanic.

American Pika Inhabitants of the park’s rocky alpine regions, American Pikas are small, vocal mammals known for their distinctive calls and for gathering vegetation for winter.

Red Fox The Red Fox, with its distinctive orange fur, can be seen across various habitats within the park, showcasing adaptability and cunning in the wild.

Bald Eagle Majestic Bald Eagles soar above the park’s waterways, a powerful symbol of freedom and a testament to the park’s pristine habitats and rich biodiversity.

Snowshoe Hare Adapted to snowy environments, Snowshoe Hares are notable for their white winter coats, blending into the park’s winter landscape as they forage for food.

Steller’s Jay Loud and colorful, Steller’s Jays, with their striking blue and black plumage, are a common sight, adding vibrancy and sound to the park’s forests.

Western Fence Lizard Often seen basking on rocks, the Western Fence Lizard, also known as the blue-belly, is a familiar reptilian inhabitant of Lassen Volcanic’s warmer areas.

Cascade Frog Native to the park’s aquatic habitats, Cascade Frogs are an important indicator species, reflecting the health of the park’s wetlands and streams.

Lassen Volcanic National Park’s wildlife, from the elusive Mountain Lion to the industrious American Pika, showcases the remarkable adaptability of life in a landscape defined by volcanic forces, inviting visitors to explore and appreciate the natural beauty and diversity of this unique national park.

Engaging Lassen Volcanic

Explore the diverse landscapes of Lassen Volcanic National Park on its extensive network of hiking trails. From leisurely walks to challenging treks, the park offers options for hikers of all abilities.

Discover bubbling mud pots, colorful hydrothermal pools, and stunning vistas as you trek through the park’s volcanic terrain. Highlights include the Lassen Peak Trail, which leads to the summit of the park’s highest volcano, and the Bumpass Hell Trail, a boardwalk loop through a hydrothermal basin.

Hiking in Lassen provides opportunities to connect with nature and experience the beauty of California’s volcanic landscapes up close.

Experience the natural beauty of Lassen Volcanic National Park from the comfort of your car on one of its scenic drives. Cruise along the park’s winding roads, which offer panoramic views of rugged mountains, pristine lakes, and lush forests.

Stop at scenic overlooks and viewpoints along the way to capture photographs of the park’s iconic landmarks, including Lassen Peak, Brokeoff Mountain, and the Devastated Area. Scenic drives in Lassen provide a leisurely and immersive way to explore the park’s natural beauty and diverse ecosystems, with opportunities for wildlife viewing and sightseeing.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Trails

Lassen Peak Trail

Rating: Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: 5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet (610 meters)

Description: This trail offers hikers the opportunity to summit one of the largest plug dome volcanoes in the world. The hike is strenuous but rewards with panoramic views of the park and surrounding areas. The trail is mostly open with little shade, so early morning starts are recommended to avoid the afternoon heat.

Bumpass Hell Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 300 feet (91 meters)

Description: Leading to the largest hydrothermal area in the park, this trail offers a glimpse into volcanic activity with boiling springs, fumaroles, and mud pots. The boardwalk at Bumpass Hell allows for safe viewing of these geothermal features. The trail is well-maintained, with some steep sections.

Cinder Cone Nature Trail

Rating: Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 850 feet (259 meters)

Description: This hike takes adventurers to the top of a 700-year-old cinder cone volcano. The trail is steep and challenging, especially the final ascent, but offers unique views of the Painted Dunes and Lassen’s volcanic landscape from the summit. The loose cinder surface can be difficult to walk on, adding to the challenge.

Manzanita Lake Loop Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.9 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: This gentle trail circles Manzanita Lake, offering beautiful views of Lassen Peak reflected in the water. It’s accessible to hikers of all skill levels and provides opportunities for photography, bird watching, and picnicking. Interpretive signs along the route offer insights into the area’s natural history.

Kings Creek Falls Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2.3 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 700 feet (213 meters)

Description: Hikers on this trail are treated to a scenic hike through meadows and forests, culminating in a stunning view of Kings Creek Falls. The waterfall plunges 30 feet over a rocky cliff into a lush canyon. Parts of the trail can be steep, but the views are well worth the effort.


1. What is Lassen Volcanic National Park known for?

Lassen Volcanic National Park, located in northeastern California, is known for its geothermal features, volcanic landscapes, and diverse ecosystems.

The park is home to several active volcanoes, including Lassen Peak, the largest plug dome volcano in the world.

Visitors come to Lassen to explore its otherworldly landscapes, which include boiling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and sulfurous vents. The park also boasts pristine lakes, lush forests, and alpine meadows, providing habitat for a wide variety of plant and animal species.

Additionally, Lassen offers opportunities for hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and scenic drives, making it a popular destination for outdoor recreation and nature lovers.

  • All Trails, Best trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Britannica, Lassen Volcanic National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Britannica, Lassen Peak,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Earth Magazine, Travels in Geology: Lassen Volcanic National Park: A Volcanic Wonderland,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, Complete National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Publishing, Washington DC.
  • National Geographic, Guide to the National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Society, 2003.
  • ational Park Service, Lassen Volcanic,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Visit Redding, Lassen Volcanic National Park,, retrieved April 2024.