Lassen Volcanic National Park – A Half Day Side Trip

Hey, everyone! We’re in the midst of our road trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t write anything ahead so I’ll just post once per week about our travels. We decided to drive on this trip because the flight tickets were quite expensive. We also heard about all the domestic flight problems and we’d rather avoid those. Anyway, it’s better to drive because we’ll be able to visit more people and see more sights. We haven’t taken a road trip since 2019 so this trip is long overdue.

Our first stop was Redding, CA. That’s about halfway between Portland and San Jose, CA. We got there in the evening so we didn’t really explore the town much. We just checked in to the motel and went out to eat. Oh, we paid $96 for a room at Motel 6. It was … adequate. Hotels and motels are a lot more expensive than the last time we drove to California. That’s why we’re staying with friends and families on this trip. Anyway, we stopped in Redding because Mrs. RB40 wanted to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park. I’d never heard of this park, but I’m really glad we went. It was the perfect half-day side trip.

The Lassen Volcanic National Park

The Lassen Volcanic National Park is a great side trip because visitors could see a lot of sights in just 4 hours. We saw idyllic lakes, snowy peaks, lush meadows, and neat volcanic activities. Mrs. RB40 said it’s like a mini Yellowstone without the geysers and annoying crowds.

From Redding, it took us about an hour to arrive at the Northwest entrance. From there we took Highway 89 through the park. The highway is 30 miles long, but the section from the Northwest entrance to the Southwest entrance is just half that. We went through the mileposts in reverse order, from 15 to 0. There are some very nice stops along this section. Oh, the entrance fee was $30 per vehicle.

Milepost 15 – Manzanita Lake

Manzanita Lake is right next to the Northwest entrance station. There is a trail that goes around the lake, but we just did a small section. We were saving our legs for the Bumpass trail. There was plenty of tree cover on this trail so it’s nice and shady. We saw geese, squirrels, trout, chickarees, and various birds. It was a great start to our side trip.

Milepost 14 – Chaos Jumbles pull out

Imagine a rock slide racing nearly 100 miles an hour down the slope of this group of dome volcanoes. Visitors can pull over for a quick stop here to see where all the rocks came to rest.

Milepost 13 – Nobles Pioneer Trail

Wow, a real pioneer trail from the gold rush days. Mr. Nobles stumbled upon an easier trail from the Humbolt-Nevada road to Shasta. He got some backers to invest in this trail, but it never caught on. Some pioneers came through the trail, but most stuck to the old established Oregon Trail. We stopped and hiked in a bit here. The ground feels very springy and bouncy which surprised us. The trail is all gone these days, but it’s still neat to hike in a little bit.

Milepost 12 – Hot Rock

When the Lassen volcano erupted in 1915, a big rock came to rest here. Mr. Loomis, the photographer who captured the eruption, said the rock was too hot to touch. We saw it from the highway and didn’t stop.

Milepost 11 – Devastated Area

You can see how the forest recovered from the 1915 eruption here. After 107 years, the forest looks like any regular forest. Many of the trees are fully grown. That’s a contrast to Mt. St. Helens. We could still see some fallen trees from the 1980 explosion. We saw several types of big volcanic rocks along the trail. This is an excellent spot to take a picture of Lassen Peak.

Milepost 10 – Hat Creek

We stopped for just a few minutes here. The water was so clear.

Milepost 9 – Kings Creek Meadow

There is a great pull-out at the Kings Creek meadow. It was beautiful there. We stopped here to rest and have a snack. The photo really can’t capture the beauty of the place. It was an awesome spot to take a rest.

Milepost 8 – Lassen Peak

There is a good size parking lot here. It is the highest point on the park road at 8,512 feet. There is still some snowpack here. That’s pretty neat to see. Visitors can hike the Lassen Peak trail if they’d like. We only went up a short way.

Lake Helen

Lake Helen is just south of the Lassen Peak stop. The lake is still partially covered with ice. It was beautiful. We saw a guy taking a dip here. Yikes, I’m too old for that stuff.

Milepost 6 – Brokeoff Volcano Vista and Bumpass Trail

We wanted to hike this Bumpass trail to see some volcanic activities, but the trail was snowed in! You can see the Brokeoff Volcano here.

Milepost 2 – Sulphur Works

Visitors can see some hydrothermal activities here – boiling mud pots, steam vents, and mineral stains along the creek. It was neat and stinky…

Southwest Entrance Visitor Center

RB40Jr got the Junior Ranger booklet from the Northwest entrance. He filled it out and earned the Junior Ranger badge at the Southwest visitor center. This visitor center has a gift shop, nice restrooms, and various nature displays. The park rangers were great too.

Awesome side trip

Alright, that was it for our half-day side trip. If you’re driving through Northern California and have 6 hours to spare, Lassen is a great place to visit. The park is about an hour off the I-5 so that’s 2 hours + 4 hours in the park.

The weather was perfect in Lassen, about 70-75 degrees when we were there. It was 105 degrees in Redding that day! The elevation helped a lot. Don’t forget the sunscreen, though. The sun will burn if you aren’t careful.

Lastly, the park wasn’t busy at all. There was plenty of parking at all the lots and the traffic was very light. We really enjoyed it. It isn’t as much fun when there are too many people overcrowding a park.

Have you visited Lassen Volcanic National Park? What do you think? Should we come back and camp in the park to explore more?

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to follow along with our travel. This summer should be a lot of fun. I’m editing a clip of Lassen to post soon.

Here it is!

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
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11 thoughts on “Lassen Volcanic National Park – A Half Day Side Trip”

  1. Wow, that looks like a beautiful place to visit! We didn’t quite make it that far west on our trip but that’ll be something I keep in my back pocket for the next time around.

    I love the photo of you “holding up” the boulder! 🙂

    Reply
  2. What a gorgeous park! I’d never heard of it either, but your wife was right — it does sound like a pleasant and interesting geological site. Thanks for bringing it to my attention; if I ever find myself in Norcal, it sounds well worth the trip.

    How often do you visit national parks? An $80 annual pass might make sense, if it’s more than three or four times a year and the math works out. I’ve never had one but I’ve often been grateful for someone in my car who did.

    Reply
    • It’s a great park. I really like it because you can see a lot of stuff in a short time. In Yellowstone, we had to drive so much more.
      We only go once or twice per month. Maybe when we’re older, we’ll get an annual pass.

      Reply
  3. Cool! I also tend to have some sandwiches with me on my round trips. Also some peanuts and bananas in the car so I can reach them easily while driving long distances.

    Reply

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