Today we explored Lassen! It's a very cool place!
We started at Chaos Crags overlook, which is where Mom had cell signal yesterday. Mom and Dad had Verizon signal, but I'm on AT&T and I had very little signal. Once Mom and Dad had finished their internet/phone things we headed down the road.
The first place we came to was Devestation Area. This is the area that was destroyed when Lassen Peak erupted in 1915! 100 years ago! There was a 1/2 mile interpretive trail there but we decided not to walk it. We headed on to one of the hikes that I had in my Best Easy Day Hikes: Redding, CA book. The first hike we came to was Kings Falls, but the sign said that the overlook was closed for renovation and we weren't sure we could see anything and we've seen lots of waterfalls, so we moved on.
Lassen Peak from The Devestated Area parking lot
The next hike in the book was to Paradise Meadow. We missed the parking area because it was labeled something else, and there wasn't enough parking anyway. The next spot to pull off was Lassen Peak trail head parking. This lot was huge! And, I had cell signal there! We left the RVs Nd Dad and I took the Jeep back to the trailhead. The hike in the book got to Paradise Meadow a different way, but our way worked! We got to walk the downhill portion first, the up on the return, which I like better! While we were hiking a big storm was brewing to our north. We heard some thunder and the clouds continued to build, but it never got close. The meadow was very nice, although the promised wildflowers were as abundant as we'd hoped, I'm guessing that's another casualty of the drought.
We returned to RVs and noticed that Bumpass Hell, the area where you can see the hydrothermal features (mudpots, furmoroles, steam vents), was right down the road. This is *the* hike in the park and we'd heard how fabulous it was from several people. Mom was going to hike with us and she started, but it's not an easy hike - goes uphill and down and is rough - and it was too much for her so she turned back. Dad and pressed on. The trail leading up to the crater that contains all the volcano stuff was really nice. It had great views of the other mountains, all of which are volcanos! Bumpass Hell itself wasn't too nice. It was stinky - sulfer, like a hot springs, and not very attractive. It was like a mini Yellowstone, only Yellowstone is more accessible and has more interesting geothermal features!
After our hike to Bumpass Hell, we drove down the mountain to the Southwest Walk-in Campground which allows overnight RV parking in the parking lot of the visitor center and it's only $16 vs $24! The drive down was pretty awesome! Much better scenery than the drive up! We lost about 2000 feet of elevation and could see all the mountains! There was even a spot where you drove right across some geothermal features...it was a drive through Bumpass Hell!
Lassen doesn't look like any place else I've ever been! Which is interesting because most places I go I think this looks just like ______. The closest thing I can come up with that looks a little like Lassen is Yellowstone, but Lassen is more scenic and has more, bigger mountains. Yellowstone is up on a plateau and there's not as much landscape. Lassen is also a much smaller park, with fewer people! Even the most popular hike in the park wasn't overly crowded!