22 Best Things to Do in Lassen Volcanic National Park (+ Tips for Visiting!)

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to striking hydrothermal features, volcanic peaks, and many beautiful alpine lakes. If you enjoy the great outdoors, put Lassen Volcanic National Park on your itinerary for the Golden State!

Located in the Shasta Cascade region of northeastern California, Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the lesser visited national parks in California.

Which is a shame, because the park has so much to offer, but also a blessing for the savvy travelers that do visit, who get to explore this beautiful country in relative solitude.

Originally two separate national monuments, Lassen Volcanic National Park was established in 1916. The park is home to all four types of volcanoes found on the planet: shield, composite, cinder cone, and plug dome.

Painted Dunes from the top of Cinder Cone in Lassen Volcanic NP California
The Painted Dunes in Lassen Volcanic National Park

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The stark beauty of the landscape, exciting hydrothermal features, pristine lakes, and activities for all seasons make Lassen Volcanic National Park a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.

This guide is geared toward travelers that plan to visit in summer and early fall, when the park is likely to be fully open. If you love winter activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, then you can visit in the colder months as well!

Considering a visit to this exciting park? Read on to discover all the fun things to do in Lassen Volcanic National Park, plus things to know before you go.

Things to Do in Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park Hours and Fees
Visitor Centers for Lassen Volcanic NP
Where to Stay When Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park
How Much Time Should You Allow for Lassen Volcanic NP?
Getting to Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northeastern California
Getting Around in Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Best Time to Visit Lassen Volcanic NP
Tips for Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park

Things to Do in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Walk Bumpass Hell Trail to View Hydrothermal Features

Bumpass Hell is home to the best hydrothermal features in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Hike the 3-mile round trip trail into the basin to view fumaroles and steam vents, mud pots and boiling pools.

Hydrothermal features in Bumpass Hell in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
Bumpass Hell is a must-visit for its hydrothermal features!

The moderate hike offers striking photo ops. An overlook along the way provides views of Brokeoff Volcano, or Mount Tehama, which erupted hundreds of thousands of years ago.

In the basin, walk the boardwalk trail to safely view the hydrothermal activity. The smell of rotten eggs is strong, but the colors are beautiful and the sounds fun to hear.

Stroll the Sulphur Works Sidewalk Trail

Another easy-to-access area of hydrothermal activity that’s worth viewing is Sulphur Works. Here the mud pots and hissing vents can be viewed from a sidewalk trail.

Sulphur Works Lassen NP in Winter
Sulphur Works in the winter

Be sure to view the hydrothermal activity on both sides of the park road. Here, as in Bumpass Hell, the colors are beautiful. The sidewalk trail is paved and accessible.

The Sulphur Works parking area is located just two miles north of the Southwest Entrance, on Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway.

Parking tends to get full during the day, so arrive early to snag a spot. In the winter, you can hike to Sulphur Works when the park road is closed.

Enjoy Beautiful Manzanita Lake

One of the most easily accessed lakes in Lassen Volcanic National Park, Manzanita Lake is also picture-postcard beautiful. Kayaking is very popular at Manzanita Lake.

Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic NP
Manzanita Lake

Swimming and wading may at times not be allowed due to danger from otters, so check the park website before you go. The 1.6-mile trail around the shore is flat and an easy, pleasant walk for most visitors.

Photographers will want to capture Lassen Peak reflected in the still waters of the lake. Arrive early in the day on clear, still mornings for magical photos. The north shore has great spots from which to get that perfect shot.

Visit the historic Loomis Museum

Housed in a historic structure built in 1927, the Loomis Museum is small but interesting if you want to learn more about the history of the park. The structure is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Benjamin Loomis built the museum to house his collection of park photos and geologic exhibits. The museum, along with the seismograph building he built nearby, was eventually donated to the park.

The museum, which also serves as a visitor information center, is only open during the summer. You can view the exhibits and the park film, and shop for souvenirs in the store.

Ranger-led programs are sometimes offered in the plaza outside, and the Lily Pond Interpretive Nature Trail is across the road.

Walk to Kings Creek Falls

The easy to moderate trail to Kings Creek Falls is a must-do in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

It is our favorite hike in Lassen, because it is about both the journey and the destination. Kings Creek Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in California.

Kings Creek Falls in Lassen Vocanic NP
Kings Creek Falls

From near the base of Lassen Peak, Kings Creek flows through a lovely meadow, and, if you visit in season, you will be treated to a beautiful wildflower show, and perhaps even see mule deer and birds, as you walk the trail to the falls.

The trees along the trail grow bent, because of the weight of the snow pack in winter!

You will come to an overlook at the end of the trail, from where you can safely admire the beautiful cascade, listen to the roar of the water, and take photos. The 40-foot waterfall, framed by ferns and other greenery, is very photogenic!

There are two routes to the falls, one short and steep with steps (the Cascades Trail), and the other longer and a little less steep (the Horse Trail). The Horse Trail is 3 miles round trip.

Drive or Bike the Lassen Park Highway

Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway (California State Route 89) traverses the park, and is a scenic drive. In fact, it is one of the most scenic drives in California!

The length of the drive from Loomis Museum and Manzanita Lake on one end to the Kohn Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center, is a little over 28 miles one way.

Early in the season, when snow clearing is not complete and the road is still closed to motorized vehicles, you can hike or bike sections of the road that have been cleared.

Park Highway in Lassen Volcanic NP California
Park Highway in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Visit Devils Kitchen for More Hydrothermal Activity

The hydrothermal features in Lassen Volcanic National Park have awesome names, don’t they?

Devils Kitchen, in the Warner Valley, is the second-largest hydrothermal area in the park, accessed via a round-trip hike of 4.2 miles.

Because it’s not as easy to access, you may find more solitude in Devils Kitchen in peak season. The hike goes through forests and meadows and is quite scenic.

A loop trail leads you through the colorful landscape, where you can see steam pouring out of vents in the ground, along with boiling mud pots and springs. You can hear the activity as well: plopping and hissing and cracking.

The trailhead for Devils Kitchen is located off Warner Valley Road, about 16 miles northwest of Chester.

Hike to Lassen Peak

The hike to Lassen Peak is challenging, with 2,000 feet of elevation gain and a round-trip length of five miles, but it is a popular hike in the park. Along the way, you will get great views of the surroundings as you climb.

A view from Lassen Peak in California
Panorama from the top of Lassen Peak

The views of Devastated Area from the summit are spectacular, as are the 360-degree panoramas. The landscape is the result of the eruptions of Lassen Peak that occurred in and around 1915. Lassen is classified as an active, but dormant, volcano.

The climb to the top of the 10,463-foot peak is steep, with many switchbacks. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen, because the trail is exposed. And wear sturdy hiking boots with good grip!

Walk the Devastated Area Interpretive Trail

While you get a great aerial view of Devastated Area from the summit of Lassen Peak, you can get up close and personal with the landscape on the Devastated Area Interpretive Trail.

The loop is just 0.25 mile long, so it’s a quick stop, but you can learn about the geologic repercussions of the eruption from the plaques along the trail. Thousands of boulders of all sizes, tossed by the eruption, are scattered about the area.

The trail, which is accessible, also offers beautiful views of Lassen Peak and the upper elevations of Devastated Area.

Visit Mill Creek Falls

With a drop of about 75 feet, Mill Creek Falls is the tallest waterfall in Lassen Volcanic National Park. The trail begins at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center, near the southwest entrance to the park.

Mill Creek Falls in Lassen NP California
Mill Creek Falls

The moderate hike is a little over 3 miles round trip, with an elevation change of about 935 feet.

The forested trail has some creek crossings, and in season (generally July), you will see fields of yellow mule ears.

Keep an eye out for deer and birds as you walk, and for views of Mt. Diller and Brokeoff Mountain.

The trail ends at an overlook, from where you can safely enjoy the falls.

Enjoy the Beach at Juniper Lake

Juniper Lake is located in the southeast corner of Lassen Volcanic National Park, with Mount Harkness as a backdrop. The pristine blue lake is the largest body of water in the park, and sits at an elevation of 6,700 feet above sea level.

Accessed via a road that is partly paved and partly gravel, Juniper Lake is good for swimming, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Motor boats are not permitted. The 6.8-mile Juniper Lake Trail goes around the lake, and makes for a good workout with beautiful views.

Admire the Beauty of Lake Helen and Emerald Lake

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to many beautiful higher elevation lakes, several of which can be easily accessed from the park highway. They make for great photo ops!

Emerald Lake in Lassen Volcanic NP California
Emerald Lake

Glacial Lake Helen is located at about 8,200 feet above sea level. It is frozen or covered in snow much of the year, but when it is partially or fully thawed, it makes for a picture postcard scene.

Although swimming is possible in Lake Helen, the water is ice cold. We just dipped our toes in the crystal clear water. On a still day, you can see Lassen Peak perfectly reflected in Lake Helen.

Emerald Lake is located very near Lake Helen. It is a smaller lake, green like its name, and edged by pine forests. The water here is clear and cold as well.

View Hydrothermal Features at Boiling Springs Lake

Another of Lassen Volcanic National Park’s hydrothermal areas, Boiling Springs Lake stays at about 125 degrees Fahrenheit, from steam vents located below the lake.

The color of the lake is a beautiful light green, and the shore features some striking mud pots as well.

Located in Warner Valley, Boiling Springs Lake is accessed via an easy 3-mile round trip trail with a 200-foot elevation gain.

A light climb at the start across a meadow leads to a forested path, from where you arrive at the lake. You can walk around the lake to view the colors and features.

Look for birds and deer along the trail: we saw several pileated woodpeckers when we walked it. In season, you will see lots of wildflowers as well. The trees are varied too, from Ponderosa pine and Douglas fir to incense cedar and sugar pine.

Forested view from trail in Lassen Volcanic NP
A view from a trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park

You can also do the trail that leads to Terminal Geyser, which is not a geyser but a large steam vent. We thought Devils Kitchen and Boiling Springs Lake were more worth the time and effort.

Hike the Cinder Cone Trail

The challenging Cinder Cone Trail starts at the Butte Lake parking area, in the northeast part of the park. The 4-mile round trip hike has an elevation change of about 850 feet, and allows you to experience a volcano up close.

As you walk, you can observe the landscape created by the lava flow on one side of the trail: the area is known as the Fantastic Lava Beds. Further along the trail, you can see and snap photos of the colorful Painted Dunes.

Painted Dunes at Lassen Volcanic National Park in northeastern California
The colorful Painted Dunes

From the top of Cinder Cone, you will have panoramic views in all directions, including views of Lassen Peak, Butte Lake, and aerial views of the Painted Dunes and the Fantastic Lava Beds you passed on the trail.

There is an optional trail that goes down into the cone. Cinder Cone is one of the best and most unique hiking trails in the park, but quite challenging. The climb is steep and exposed, so plenty of water and sun protection are crucial.

Keep an eye out for wildlife: bears have been sighted here. It’s best to do this hike earlier in the day, such that you complete the descent in daylight.

Cinder Cone Lassen Volcanic NP California
Cinder Cone

Swim or Kayak Butte Lake

Butte Lake is located in the northeast section of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Lesser visited because it is a remoter part of the park and access is via a 6-mile dirt road, the lake is a brilliant blue, surrounded by black volcanic hills.

Butte Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA
Butte Lake

A popular swimming spot, Butte Lake also has a launch for canoes and kayaks.

The landscape, with features created by lava flows, is fun to explore by boat. Fishing is another popular activity at Butte Lake. It’s the perfect place to cool off after the hike to Cinder Cone!

Hike the Brokeoff Mountain Trail

One of the most challenging trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park, the Brokeoff Mountain Trail also provides some of the best panoramic views in the park. The hike is 7.4 miles round trip, with an elevation gain of close to 2,600 feet. Not for the faint of heart.

Starting with a climb through meadows and forest, you eventually leave the treeline behind as you make your way to the top. From the top of the mountain, you get great views of Lassen Peak, Mt. Diller, Mt. Shasta, Mt. Conard, and Chaos Crags, and of the surrounding countryside below.

Also from the top, you get gorgeous views of the caldera of Mount Tehama, the ancient volcano. In season, look for wildflowers of different types along the route. Bring your binoculars if you enjoy birdwatching, and look for deer as well.

There is only a short window when this trail is free of snow, generally from late July to the end of August. Sturdy hiking boots with good grip are a must, and hiking poles may come in handy.

Enjoy the Beauty of Summit Lake

Summit Lake is located just off the park highway. The small alpine lake is located at about 6,700 feet above sea level, and surrounded by beautiful pine forests. The water here is supposed to be a little warmer than at other lakes along the highway.

Swimming, fishing, and kayaking are popular activities at Summit Lake. There are two campgrounds by Summit Lake, so in season, you may not find it as secluded as some of the other lakes in the park.

Go Backpacking in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Seeking a few days of solitude in the wilderness? Lassen National Park offers several overnight trail choices for experienced and well-prepared backcountry explorers. Be a responsible backcountry visitor by practicing Leave No Trace principles.

Crumbaugh Lake in Lassen Volcanic NP California
Crumbaugh Lake

Many of the backpacking trails in Lassen Volcanic are located in the eastern part of the park, with trailheads at Butte Lake, Warner Valley, Juniper Lake, and Summit Lake. One of your options is the iconic Pacific Crest Trail.

Cluster Lakes Loop is one of the most popular backpacking trails in the park, at 10.5 miles, with numerous lakes along the route. The Butte Lake-Snag Lake-Twin Lake-Silver Lake loop is another scenic trail, great for families as well as adult groups.

Permits are required to camp in the backcountry in Lassen.


Located away from the light pollution of major cities, Lassen Volcanic National Park boasts beautiful dark night skies, perfect for stargazing. For the best stargazing experience, pick a cloudless new moon night. On such a night, you can see the Milky Way in all its splendor.

Milky Way seen from Lassen Volcanic National Park in California
See the Milky Way!

Bring reclining loungers so you can lie back in comfort and wait 15-30 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Your patience will be rewarded with many more stars!

The shore of a lake, or a beach, is a great open spot for stargazing. Bring a headlamp or flashlight if you plan to venture out after dark.

If you visit Lassen when the moon if full or close to full, you will have splendid photo ops in the park, with the moon looking dramatic against the volcanic peaks. Experienced hikers even climb Lassen Peak on full moon nights!

Lassen Volcanic National Park has a Dark Sky festival, held in late July or early August each year. The three-day festival includes stargazing events and talks, and is fun for kids and adults alike.

Enjoy Wildflowers and Fall Colors in Season

Lassen Volcanic National Park experiences all four seasons. It is home to several hundred varieties of flowering plants, and if you enjoy observing the local flora on your walks and hikes, you will love the trails in Lassen.

A crimson columbine at Lassen Volcanic National Park
A crimson columbine blooming in the park

Wildflower season in Lassen Volcanic National Park runs from May until September, so you will likely see some wildflowers whenever you visit during this period.

Dramatic displays of yellow mule ears cover entire hillsides at peak bloom, while shy beauties like the red columbine need a little bit of watchfulness.

Look for the orange western wallflower, red Indian paintbrush, the regal white flower stalks of corn lilies, purple shooting stars and silverleaf lupine, and many, many other varieties in the park.

Although most of the trees in the park are evergreen, you can still find fall color in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

In the fall, look for the meadow grasses and willows to change to beautiful gold, orange, or rust. Aspen, alder, and cottonwood in areas like Manzanita Lake change colors as well.

Look for Wildlife

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to several dozen species of mammals, including the very rare Sierra Nevada red fox. If you see one, or you are able to take photos, report the sighting to the park to aid in research!

Mule deer are a common sight in Lassen Volcanic National Park
A mule deer in the park

More than two dozen black bear live in the park, and they have been sighted by park visitors. Although they are called black bear, they may be brown in color.

Bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, and mule deer, and smaller creatures like pika and squirrels, also live in Lassen NP.

We’ve only seen deer on our visits to Lassen so far. Other animals are more likely to be visible early and late in the day.

Always be safe and observe wildlife from a safe distance or from inside your car. The park has bear-aware guidelines.

Go Birdwatching

Many dozen species of migrant birds spend the summer in Lassen Volcanic National Park, and fly south for the winter.

If you visit the park in the summer, and enjoy birding, bring your binoculars or scope and look for the different species as you walk the trails and explore the park.

Rufous hummingbird in Lassen Volcanic NP  California
A Rufous hummingbird in the park

Some of the most commonly sighted birds in the park include the stunning blue Steller’s jay, Clark’s nutcracker, and the mountain chickadee.

You may also see the dark-eyed junco, which looks like a sparrow but has a dark face and head, pileated woodpeckers, and different kinds of raptors.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Hours and Fees

Lassen Volcanic National Park is generally open all day, every day. But before you visit, check the park website for information on special closures. Visitor centers, park stores, and campgrounds have varying hours and seasons of operation.

Lassen Volcanic Park Highway and other roads in the park are snow covered and inaccessible to motorized traffic during the snow season, which typically runs from November until May or June. Services during this period are limited as well.

The entrance fee for Lassen Volcanic National Park, at the time of writing, is $30.00 per vehicle. The winter entrance fee per vehicle is $10.00.

The fee for a motorcycle is $25.00, and the fee for an individual, on foot or on a bike, is $15.00.

The entrance pass is valid for 7 consecutive days from the date of purchase. There are self-pay stations for times the entrance stations are not staffed.

The America the Beautiful National Parks passes are accepted at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Display the pass in your vehicle such that it is visible.

Do you have your National Parks Pass yet?

Valid for one full year from the month of purchase, the America the Beautiful National Parks Pass costs USD 80.00 and offers admission (one vehicle or 4 persons) to over 2,000 Federal recreation sites, including national parks, national forests, and more! Get yours online at REI now!

Bumpass Hell

Visitor Centers for Lassen Volcanic National Park

There are two Visitor Centers at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

We suggest you stop by one of the visitor centers upon arriving, to get oriented, have your questions answered, obtain information, and get suggestions on hikes and other activities suitable for you (and your travel companions).

The Kohm Yah-Mah-Nee Visitor Center is located about one mile from the southwest entrance to the park. It is open year round.

Here you can watch the park film, view exhibits, browse information, and speak with rangers on duty. You will also find a park book store, gift shop, and cafe here.

The Loomis Museum, in the northwest section of the park, also acts as a Visitor Center.

Open only in the summer, this visitor center also offers you the ability to view the park film, tour exhibits, attend ranger-led programs, get questions answered, and browse a park store.

Ranger stations at Butte Lake, in the northeast, and Juniper Lake, in the southeast, are not staffed.

The Boardwalk Trail at Bumpass Hell in Lassen Volcanic NP California
The boardwalk trail at Bumpass Hell

Where to Stay When Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park

Vacation Rentals near Lassen Volcanic National Park

This gorgeous cabin features two bedrooms and two baths, along with a full kitchen. There is additional sleeping space in the loft. Hear the sounds of the creek from the living area, and barbecue on the deck. The cabin is a 10-minute drive from Lassen Volcanic National Park. Book a stay here!

This beautiful home is nestled in a pine-covered lot just a short drive from the park. Featuring 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, it can sleep up to 10 guests. There is a deck to enjoy the outdoors, and a full kitchen inside. Book a stay here!

This rustic mountain cabin is 9 miles from Lassen Volcanic National Park. The 3-bedroom, 2-bath two-story cabin has a lovely deck, outside fire pit, and barbecue grill. The lot features mature pines and Bailey Creek is a few yards from the home. Perfect for a stay in nature with all the comforts! Book a stay here!

Silverleaf Lupine at Lassen Volcanic NP California
Lupines bloom in the park in early summer

Hotels in or near Lassen Volcanic National Park

Highlands Ranch Resort in Mill Creek is located about nine miles from Lassen Volcanic National Park. Units are set in several acres of parkland, and offer separate seating areas and patios with mountain views. Breakfast is offered, and the property offers free parking and wifi. There is an onsite restaurant and bar. Book a stay here!

Village at Childs Meadow is also located in Mill Creek. The property offers free parking, and there is an onsite restaurant serving American cuisine, and a bar. Rooms feature separate sitting areas, and microwaves. Book a stay here!

Drakesbad Guest Ranch is located in the southeast section of the park. The ranch is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The lodge is seasonal, and accommodations are offered in the lodge, or in standalone cabins and bungalows. All meals are included and activities are offered. Reserve well in advance of your visit!

Campgrounds in Lassen Volcanic National Park

There are seven campgrounds inside Lassen Volcanic National Park, located by the Southwest entrance, and at Manzanita Lake, Butte Lake, Juniper Lake, Lost Creek, and Summit Lake (North and South). Rustic camping cabins are available by Manzanita Lake.

Most campsites in the park require advance reservations, which can be made at recreation.gov. There are no RV hookups in the park, but RVs and trailers can be accommodated at some campgrounds, such as Manzanita Lake, Butte Lake, and Summit Lake.

There is no dispersed camping at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Crumbaugh Lake Lassen Volcanic NP California
A view of Crumbaugh Lake

How Much Time Should You Allow for Lassen Volcanic National Park?

You can visit Lassen National Park for anywhere from a few hours to several days, depending on how much you want to explore, and whether you are looking to get away into nature for a bit or just want to take in the highlights of the park.

In one day, you can drive through the park, visit a couple of hydrothermal sites (Bumpass Hell and Sulphur Works are the best areas to visit on a short trip to the park), have a picnic by one of the lakes, and perhaps do a short day hike (Lassen Peak or Kings Creek Falls are great choices).

With three days or more, you can take your time and explore the different parts of Lassen Volcanic National Park in depth and at leisure. Hike up to the top of volcanic peaks in the mornings, and enjoy relaxing afternoons by the lakes. Sunrises and sunsets in the park can be spectacular, and you can observe the night skies as well.

We spent three days exploring the park, and thought it was a good amount of time. Of course, we would have loved to stay longer, because it is a special environment, but we were able to do the hikes we wanted and explore the park at leisure.

Getting to Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is located in northeastern California.

The nearest airport is Redding, but it has limited service. You can fly to Redding from other major California cities such as San Francisco and LA.

Sacramento International Airport or Reno International Airport in Nevada are better options, with services from many US and international cities.

You can also drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park. The park can be accessed via California State Route 36 in the south and California State Route 44 in the north.

From Sacramento, the distance to the park is 192 miles, a drive of just under three hours.

From San Francisco, the distance is about 247 miles, a drive of about four hours.

One of the entrances to Lassen Volcanic National Park California
One of the entrances to the park

Roads also lead to the northeast and southeast corners of the park, but if it is your first visit, we suggest you arrive at the southwest entrance or the northwest entrance, where there are staffed visitor centers.

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Getting Around in Lassen Volcanic National Park

You’ll need a set of wheels to explore the park, whether it’s an automobile or an RV or a motorcycle. Note that park roads are closed during the winter.

Hiking is the best way to get up close to the sights in the park, whether hydrothermal features, volcanic peaks, forests, or lush meadows.

In the spring, when sections of the park highway have been cleared, but the road is not yet open to motorized traffic, you can bring a bike to ride the sections of the road that have been cleared.

The Best Time to Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a four-season park, and there are things to do no matter when you visit.

If it is your first visit to the park, we suggest arriving during the summer or early fall, when roads in the park are open, lakes thawed, and the landscape flush with wildflowers.

Days are long, and you will be able to enjoy a breadth of activities, as well as have access to services.

That said, many visitors choose to visit Lassen in the winter to enjoy winter sports and snowshoe hikes.

The park is a snow-covered wonderland, with few visitors, and a magnificent feeling of being alone in the landscape.

Spring offers easier hiking on partially cleared roads, longer days, and better weather to explore.

Lassen Volcanic National Park in the fall
Fall at Lassen Volcanic National Park

Tips for Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park

Download a park map and Brochure

If you enjoy the safety of knowing you have navigation tools at all times, download or print a park map and the brochure in advance of your visit. If you plan to hike, here are a couple of resources that may come in handy:

This illustrated trail map, by National Geographic, includes trails in Lassen Volcanic National Park, plus adjacent national forest areas. There are over 150 miles of trails in the park, so you have a lot from which to choose. Buy it on Amazon!

We found this guide to hiking Lassen Volcanic National Park very useful as we explored the park. It has information on both day hikes and backpacking trips, including interesting commentary on what to look for along each trail. Buy it on Amazon!

Read Up on Park Safety Guidelines

Much of Lassen is designated wilderness, and weather in the park can be unpredictable and hazardous. Lassen Volcanic National Park website has a page on safety. Read up and follow the guidelines for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Expect Cell Reception to be Spotty

You may get cell reception at places along the park highway, but not throughout the park. On hiking trails and at the campgrounds, you will likely not have cell reception. Kohm Yah-Mah-Nee Visitor Center offers free wifi.

We’ve invested in a couple of gadgets that we carry on all wilderness trips:

A GPS Smartwatch is super useful as a navigation resource. Check out this premium Garmin Fenix 6 (you can buy it on Amazon or you can buy it on REI), or the more affordable Garmin Instinct (buy on REI or Amazon).

The InReach Mini, as a backup resource for navigation and to call for help when we do not have cell reception. With a satellite subscription, it enables you to send and receive texts when there is no cell phone reception. It weighs only 3.5oz, and has tracking and SOS capabilities as well.
Buy it on REI | Buy it on Amazon

Hiking up Cinder Cone in Lassen Volcanic NP California
The trail up Cinder Cone

Carry Plenty of Drinking Water

Bring adequate supplies of drinking water so you have enough for all members of your traveling party to stay hydrated, especially when hiking. You will find potable water at the visitor centers.

If you plan to visit by road, bring a cooler! It is very helpful, not only to store drinking water, but also for perishable foods.

Bring Snacks and Food

In season, food is served at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and at the Manzanita Lake Camper Store. Picnic tables are available at spots throughout the park, so you’ll be able to stop for a picnic lunch during the day if you’ve packed food.

You will find restaurants in communities a few miles outside the parks, such as Shingletown and Mineral. The restaurant at the Highlands Ranch Resort in Mill Creek is highly rated, as are the offerings at Drakesbad Guest Ranch, which is seasonal.

Find grocery Stores

If you plan to drive in from the Loomis Museum entrance in the northwest, Shingletown is a good place to stop in order to shop for bottled water, groceries, and other supplies you think you will need.

Coming from the southwest, Mineral has a small store, but you may want to stock up earlier in your trip at a larger city or town.

Hydrothermal Features in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California
Hydrothermal activity in the park

Dress in layers

You can encounter variable weather any time of the year in Lassen Volcanic National Park, so be prepared by dressing in layers.

If you plan to visit during the colder months, warm clothing is essential, of course, but you may want to pack warm waterproof jackets, beanies, and gloves, no matter when you visit. Plus warm underlayers!

Long-sleeved tops and long pants are always prudent when hiking. Also bring a sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for exposed trails and time on the beach or by the water.

Wear Sturdy Hiking Shoes

Hiking shoes or boots with good grip are recommended if you plan to hike in the park. Trails can be wet or slippery, with loose gravel or sand.

Closed-toed sturdy footwear is recommended even if you don’t plan to hike.

Landscape in Lassen Volcanic National Park California
Pretty landscape in the park in the summer

Carry Bug Spray and a First-Aid Kit

You may encounter mosquitoes and other biting insects, especially along meadows, wooded areas, or forests. Bug spray is a must!

Also bring your own travel-sized first-aid kit, including clean tweezers, along with sanitizing wipes and lotion.

Bring Your Camera and Binoculars

If you love photographing birds or wildlife but don’t want to carry your heavy gear, look for a pocket digital camera with a good zoom lens.

We bring our little Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS70 on hikes: it is very light and fits into a pocket, but has a 30X zoom and Leica lens and takes excellent photos of even small birds if the light is decent.

We also always bring our compact binoculars if we expect to see birds or wildlife: we love the Celestron Trailseeker compact binoculars.

They are waterproof and great for the lower light of dawn or dusk, when you are more likely to see birds and wildlife.


Planning to explore more of California’s natural beauty? Check out our articles on other national parks in California!

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Discover fun things to do in Lassen Volcanic National Park in northeastern California, from climbing cinder cones and volcanic peaks to relaxing by beautiful lakes and viewing hydrothermal activity.


Dhara loves to explore her home state of California. With her husband Kishore, she has done numerous road trips in the state in every season. She hopes to share her love of the Golden State with you, and help you find your own exciting experiences here.

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