Monday, May 11, 2015
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mount Lassen, which had been dormant for 27,000 years, began venting steam on May 30, 1914. On May 19, 1915 hot lava melted snow which mixed with volcanic material to create a mudflow seven miles long. Finally on May 22 the volcano exploded sending volcanic ash, rock fragments, and pumice 30,000 feet into the atmosphere. Volcanic activity stopped in 1921 but mudpots, bubbling pools and steam vents are a reminder that the lava is not far below the earth’s crust. The Devastated Area where the mudflows wiped out all life is recovering. Chaos Jumbles, a swath of land which was covered in jagged rocks when a non-volcanic rockslide occurred 350 years ago is still very rough.
The park is not very accessible because hiking is the best way to see it but the drive along the main road is beautiful and worth the trip. The road is only 30 miles long so even with stops at the visitor center and the trails it can easily done in a day. Since we visited in early spring everything wasn’t open. We stopped at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center which is accessible. The Sulphur Works is located right along the road with accessible sidewalks and easy to view interpretive signs. It features steam vents and mudpots. The Devastated Area has a hard packed sandy trail with a slight grade and easy to view signs. The park accessibility guide suggests trying the trail at Manzanita Lake but we didn’t find an accessible section.
The only campground opened was Southwest Walk-In campground. RVs may camp in the visitor center lot. We boondocked outside the park in the national forest both before entering the park and when we left – much nicer than the parking lot. Our boondocking locations are on this map – Boondocking
The visitor center and the Sulphur Works have long parking spots. RVs can back up over the dirt in the Devastated Area lot. Park