Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the oldest national parks. It’s also one of the most remote, which has helped to preserve its rugged and unspoiled wilderness.
From the parks guide: Lassen National Park has eight hydrothermal (hot water) areas. The roaring fumaroles, thumping mudpots, boiling pools, and steaming ground in these areas are produced when the water is heated by magma three miles underground. These features are related to active volcanism and are indications of the ongoing potential for further eruptions.
Bumpass Hell is the top area in the park to witness all of the above features. It is a very popular hike, so getting there early is a must. Parking is limited. We arrived by 7:45am.
From the trailhead parking lot, you follow a gradual climb along a ridgeline with amazing views of the park. It is mostly shaded with pine trees and is a well-maintained trail. As you get closer to the hydrothermal area, you will descend one of 2 trails. We took the main trail down and the alternate back up. The alternate trail (which is a shortcut), is not a gradual trail and uses stone stairs to get you where you want to go in a shorter time. Just a bit more work!
Once down in the Bumpass Hell area, the sights, sounds, and definitely the smell are otherworldly. They have a boardwalk for you to walk on and to maintain a safe distance from any hydrothermal activity. You can easily get burned by these features. It was by far our favorite part of the park! After enjoying all the cool features, you make your way back the way you came. It took us around 1 hr 15 min total for this hike and that is with stopping for photos and exploring.
Dogs are not allowed on the trail, so we left Jack in the back of the Jeep with some water to hang out till we got back. This is how we found him. Haha!
I love the fact that you don’t need to drive all the way to Yellowstone NP to experience some volcanic/hydrothermal activity. If you live in California, Oregon, or Nevada, it is a great option! This park is beautiful and much less crowded than other national parks. We hope to make it back sometime to climb Lassen Peak.