Lassen Volcanic National Park is a United Statesnational park that is at the southern terminus of the Cascade Mountains in the Shasta Cascades region of California, approximately 50 miles east of Redding. Within the park’s 165 m2 (1,780 ft²) (106,000 acres are numerous volcanic features including four types of volcanoes, steam vents, mud pots, and painted dunes. In addition, with nearly 79,000 acres designated as wilderness area and fewer than 400,000 visitors per year, the park is an ideal place for a nature getaway. It’s slightly off the beaten track so typically much less crowded than the flagship Western US national parks such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Zion.
Lassen Peak National Monument was established by proclamation of President Theodore Roosevelt on 6 May 1907 to be administered by the U.S. Forest Service. Volcanic eruptions from Lassen Peak in 1914 and 1915 resulted in national publicity. The two monuments and surrounding areas were included in Lassen Volcanic National Park, established in 1916, administered by the National Park Service of the Interior.
Beneath Lassen Volcanic’s peaceful forests and gem-like lakes lies evidence of a turbulent and fiery past. 600,000 years ago, the collision and warping of continental plates led to violent eruptions and the formation of lofty Mount Tehama (also called Brokeoff Volcano.) After 200,000 years of volcanic activity, vents and smaller volcanoes on Tehama’s flanks-including Lassen Peak-drew magma away from the main cone. Hydrothermal areas ate away at the great mountain’s bulk. Beneath the onslaught of Ice Age glaciers, Mount Tehama crumbled and finally ceased to exist. But the volcanic landscape lived on: in 1914, Lassen Peak awoke. The peak had its most significant activity in 1915 and minor activity through 1921.
All four types of volcanoes in the world are found in the park. Over 150 miles of trails and a culturally significant scenic highway provide access to volcanic wonders including steam vents, mudpots, boiling pools, volcanic peaks, and painted dunes.
Although Lassen is primarily known for its volcanic geology, the park boasts a rich diversity of plant and animal life. Over 700 flowering plant species grace the park, providing shelter and food for 250 vertebrates as well as a host of invertebrates including insects.
This great diversity of life forms is due to two factors: the location of the park and the abundance of habitats that occur there.
At the southern end of the Cascade Range geologic province, Lassen Volcanic National Park lies at the crossroads of three great biological provinces: the Cascades range to the north, the Sierra Nevada mountains to the south and the Great Basin desert to the east.
The myriad habitats of Lassen Volcanic National Park are produced by variations in environmental conditions such as elevation (5,000 to 10,457 feet), moisture (precipitation is greater on the western than the eastern side of the park), substrate (rock type and soil depth), temperature, insolation (amount of sun) and prior disturbance (both natural and human-caused).
Snow covers much of the park mid-October through mid-June. The Park Road (the main road that connects Hwy. 89 through the park) is usually closed late October through mid-June. During years of heavy snowfall, the road may open significantly later. Please call the park for road and trail condition updates. Many of the main park attractions are snow covered and inaccessible by car and foot during the winter. July, August, and September may bring mostly sunny skies with warm daytime temperatures and cool night time temperatures.