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A Local's Look at Lassen

By | 09/26/2013

The Hills Are Alive 

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a land full of wild beauty and the many mysteries of a living landscape volcanic activity. Lassen Peak, the highest point in the park, is the largest plug dome volcano in the world. If you are an earth nerd, even just a little bit, you need to check out Lassen Volcanic National Park. 

What does the park offer? 

Karen Haner is the public information officer at Lassen Volcanic National Park and has worked at the park for 15 years. You can hear the delight and passion in her voice as she talks about working in beautiful places and helping visitors have a wonderful time in the beautiful places she loves. "There's nothing better than that", she says.  

Her favorite feature of Lassen National Park is the beauty. The parks 165 square miles are filled with extravagant scenery that differs from one area to another. Majestic rocky peaks rise above the earth. The road twists around cliffs and rock-strewn terrain and gives you spectacular drop-off views. 

The park is excellent for wildlife viewing. About 300 different kinds of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish live within the parks borders. Additional features include hiking, backpacking, bird watching, boating, camping, snowshoeing, field seminars, and other activities. We are surrounded by about a million acres of forest land, so the beauty stretches beyond the park borders, Haner says. 

Hydrothermal activities

Just past the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center near Lassens southwest entrance, you can see a boiling mud pot right off the road. Go a little farther, and you can visit Bumpass Hell. It was named after a local cowboy who, in the 1860s, broke through the thin soil and lost his leg. The 16-acre area is filled with bubbling mudpots, hot pools, and fumaroles (steam vents). But you dont need to worry about Bumpass Hell living up to its name with you as long as you stay on the boardwalk, you'll be fine. Check out Cold Boiling Lake, which got its name from gas bubbles churning up near the shore.

Make a stop at Devils Kitchen.
The parks website describes it best:
Here a loop trail leads hikers through the sense-reviving boiling crackled yellow and red mounds of the kitchen where steam whirls from fiery cracks in the ground, sounds of plopping, hissing and belching fill your ears and the smell of something cooking mudpots, steam vents, and boiling springs. Wander among the
ingers in the air.

A brief look at Lassens violent past 
Brokeoff Volcano was once the tallest mountain in the area now called Lassen Volcanic National Park. It stood about 2,000 feet taller than the height of Lassen Peak until it slowly eroded away. All that remains is a jagged base. 

From Redding, you can look across the valley and see where the volcano used to be. There are only pieces of it now. Brokeoff Mountain, Mount Diller, Mount Conard, and Pilot Pinnacle stand as ghosts of the past. 

Lassen Peak erupted several times in the early 20th century. On May 22, 1915, it erupted with enough force to send a plume of gas and ash more than 30,000 feet into the sky. Haner says geologists have been studying the area for more than a century, and it is under 24-hour monitoring. Lassen Peak has been pretty quiet since 1917, when steam explosions blew out a crater. The parks current hydrothermal activity includes mudpots, fumaroles, and boiling pools. 

Located just 45 minutes outside Redding, California Lassen National Park's incredible history, unique sites, and beautiful scenery make it an ideal location for hiking, camping, fishing and a plethora of other outdoor activities.  For more information on Lassen, visit and go exploring.      

Visit Redding is pleased to welcome guest blogger Lauren Stinton. Lauren Stinton is a freelance writer and editor living in Redding, California. She is the author of The House of Elah, a fantasy novel with lots of mountains in it.      

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