Lassen Volcanic National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Lassen Volcanic Park in California is filled with exciting and unique hydrothermal (hot water) features. Fumaroles - volcanic gas and steam pits - are easy to find here, along with mud pots, boiling pools, and steaming ground. All of these features are heated naturally by underground active volcanic activity. In fact, the water can be so hot that it actually boils on the surface no matter how cold the weather gets.

Weather here tends to stay on the cooler side. During the short summer season, temperatures can get up into the 80’s, but only for a short time. No matter what time of the year you go, you can expect for the temperature to be near or below freezing at some point during your stay. Bringing your RV is a great way to explore and experience Lassen Volcanic Park. After a long day out and about in the park, you can go back to your rig to get warm and cozy. It’s the best way to go camping without all of the typical hassles.

If it isn’t already, this national park should definitely be on your list of places to visit in your RV. There is so much to see and do, and when travel on your own terms you’ll get to experience it all in the best way possible.

Park Alerts (1)

[Information] Campground Opening Delays [+ Info]

Juniper Lake Campgrounds and Stock Corral opening is delayed to 7/19 due to snow.

RV Rentals in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Transportation in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Driving

Located about 3 hours from Sacramento, California, Lassen Volcanic National Park can be reached by taking Hwy 44 North or Hwy 36 South. Before going all the way to the park though, be sure to fill up on gas - the nearest gas station is pretty far out. Manzanita Lake camper store sells gas from about mid-May to early October, and is open 24 hours a day during this time. During the winter season, be sure to check the road conditions before going. Some places in the park may be difficult to reach due to snow accumulation. Once you have all of that settled, navigating through the park by car is easy. There’s a main highway that goes through the park, along with three more roads that branch off to take you to more remote areas.

Parking

Throughout the park, you can be guaranteed to find parking areas at each visitor center. You can also stop at various overlooks and viewpoints if you’re driving throughout the park. You’ll also find that the campsites are RV-friendly, allowing for an RV along with one other vehicle at each site.

Public Transport

Currently, there is no public transportation within the park, so taking your car is the best way to get around inside. If the weather allows, you could take a bicycle ride through the park. Just remember to stay on the paved areas and watch for vehicles.

Campgrounds and parking in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Campsites in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Reservations camping

Mt. Lassen / Shingletown KOA

Sitting at an elevation of 3,900 feet, a visit to Mt. Lassen/Shingletown KOA will plant you in the midst of breathtaking mountain landscapes. Hike and explore nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park, or visit serene sites like McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park and Lake Shasta while touring the area. Whether you want to explore volcanoes or waterfalls, or just kick back and relax at Mt. Lassen/Shingletown KOA, there's plenty to see and do in this picturesque region. This KOA features a variety of amenities to keep you comfortable, such as Wi-Fi, a swimming pool, cable TV, and even a dog park for the pups. Sites can accommodate rigs up to 65 feet, and offer full hookups with 50-amp service.

Volcano Adventure Camp

The Volcano Adventure Camp, also known as VAC, is specifically designed for youth groups such as school/educational groups and scout organizations. In order to get in, you must apply. At this camp, you’ll find cabins filled with cots, a few tent campsites, showers and toilets, picnic pavilions, campfire circles, and even cleaning supplies. You can also be sure to find plenty of ranger-led programs to attend here.

Summit Lake Campground

Summit Lake has reservable spots at Loops B, C, and D. However, Loops A and E are first-come, first-served. There are 94 sites to choose from, and that includes both north and south sides of the campground. RV’s and trailers of up to 35 feet in length are allowed in the north parts, but not allowed in the south sections. When you camp with your RV in the north section, you’ll have access to flush toilets. The southern part only have vault toilets. There are no hookups and the nearest dump station and store amenities are located at Manzanita Lake, just 12 miles out.

Manzanita Lake Campground

This campground is ideal for families and RV campers, as they allow vehicles here up to 40 feet long. They also have up to 179 campsites to choose from, and you can get reservations for campsites located at Loops A and C. Loops B and D happen to be first-come, first-served. There are no hookups, but flush toilets and potable water are all available here until mid-October. You’ll also find access to a metal food locker for storing your food, a dump station, a camper store, gift shop, and coin-operated showers and laundry facilities nearby. You can also bring your pet, and enjoy ranger-led programs and plenty of outdoor activities to choose from.

Butte Lake Campground

This campground is fairly remote, and reservations can be made for all sites located in Loop B. Here you’ll have access to potable water, vault toilets, and a metal food locker to protect your food. You’ll also be close to Old Station / Hat Creek, where you can buy other things that you may need or have forgotten. There are up to 101 sites to choose from here, and they allow you to bring vehicles up to 35 feet in length. Be aware though, there are no hookups or dump station. You can also bring your pet along with you, just be sure to check the rules and regulations.

First-come first-served

First-Come, First-Served

All campgrounds that are strictly first-come, first-served are for tent camping only. Campgrounds that do offer first-come, first-serve options for RV campers also offer reservations camping: Butte Lake, Manzanita Lake, and Summit Lake Campgrounds.

Alternate camping

Cabins at Manzanita Lake

If you’re looking for something that has a bit more of a homey feel when you visit this park, you can choose from up to 20 cabins to stay in at Manzanita Lake. You can also choose between three different styles - 2 rooms, 1 room, or a bunkhouse cabin. Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance.

Tent Camping

If you’re willing to leave your RV elsewhere, you can try tent camping within the park. Juniper Lake, Southwest Walk-in, and Warner Valley are all great campgrounds to go tent/primitive camping at, as these are all campgrounds that are not recommended for RV camping. All of these sites are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Drakesbad Guest Ranch

Drakesbad Guest Ranch is a full-service, concession-run resort located inside Lassen Volcanic National Park. To stay at Drakesbad overnight, reservations must be made. However, if you only want to visit for the day, you can do that too. When you stay overnight, you can enjoy the historic lodge, cabins, and bungalows. You can also choose from all sorts of fun activities to do.

Seasonal activities in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Spring

Auto Touring

Lassen Volcanic National Park offers all kinds of wonderful views, making it a perfect place to go auto touring. You can take the main highway all the way through, or turn off onto one of the 3 roads that branch off and dive deeper into the park. All roads are closed during the Winter months, but open back up in the springtime. April is a good time to start checking for updates on road conditions.

Horseback Riding

The 100 miles of trails that are open to stock users are also open to horseback riders. Many horseback riders love to take advantage of this opportunity to go for peaceful rides here, and there are plenty of miles to allow for a change in scenery each time you come.

Stock Use

Here at Lassen Volcanic National Park, there are over 100 miles of trails available for those that wish to bring their stock. This includes any horses, mules, burros, and llamas that you have. Your animals will be thankful to get out and be able to roam for a bit here in the park.

Fishing

There are plenty of places to go fishing within the park, whether it’s on the shore or in a boat. Trout are naturally very popular in the area and can make for a fun fishing day. Just remember that all fishing is catch and release only, and be sure that you are following all rules and regulations in order to keep the park wildlife peaceful.

Backcountry Camping

Backcountry camping is a great way to get to know the park. Get up close and see all of the cool lakes, great mountains, and beautiful meadows. Be sure to get a permit before you go though. You can do this by sending an application through email or in-person at one of many park locations, including the Lumis Museum, the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center, and many of the ranger stations throughout the park.

Summer

Guided Hikes

If you want to tag along with someone who knows more about hiking and the park itself, take a couple of guided hikes. Whether this is your first time hiking or you’re on a trail all the time, taking a guided hike can be a lot of fun. You can choose to take the guided hike around Manzanita Lake or to Mill Creek Falls. Either way, you’ll be guaranteed a good time.

Boating

With all of the lakes that are located within the park, it makes for many great spots to go boating, as long as the boat of your choosing has no engine. Some of the most popular places to go boating are Manzanita Lake, Butte Lake, Juniper Lake, and Summit Lake. You can even rent canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards, and catarafts at the Manzanita Lake Camper Store. All rentals are on a first-come, first-served basis and you’re allowed to use them from 9 am to 30 minutes before the sun goes down.

Parkcaching

If you’ve never heard of parkcaching, it’s an outdoor game where you must find objects or information throughout the park by using GPS coordinates. You can do this physically or virtually, and it’s a great way to get everyone interested in exploring the park. Join in on the Highway Parkcaching Challenge when you visit.

Bird Banding Program

These two ranger-led programs are a great way to learn about wildlife and the importance of certain plants and wildlife for birds. An evening program is held to give information, while a demonstration is held so that you can watch and see what happens. The park is all about protecting and preserving wildlife, and this includes the birds.

Junior Firefighter Program

This is a ranger-led program that teaches about fire safety, the role of fire in the parks, and the role of firefighters. This 45-minute program is a great way to learn and is perfect for kids of all ages. Participants will be able to receive a junior firefighter patch when they go.

Fall

Wildlife Watching

While you may not want to go out searching for the black bears and mountain lions that reside here in the park, it’s still fun to look under rocks for newts and salamanders. Instead of looking down, you can also look up to find different kinds of birds in the sky and in the trees. This park is home to all kinds of interesting wildlife.

Stargazing

They say that “half the park is after dark!” When you look up at the night sky here in the park, you’ll be amazed at all the stars that you can see. Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of the few places left where the natural darkness of night is still protected. You can also join a ranger-led Starry Night program to learn all about the night sky.

Day Hiking

At Lassen Volcanic National Park, there are over 150 miles of hiking trails. The trails can range in difficulty levels from easy to strenuous, so you can be sure that there is a trail for everyone. The locations of where you’ll find the trails are split up into 4 sections; the Southwest area, Northwest area, Butte Lake area, and Warner Valley and Juniper Lake areas. This does not include the Pacific Crest Trail that spans for 17 miles through the park.

Nature Photography Workshop

This workshop is two days long and is a great way to discover the beauty of the park. Not only will you get to take it all in, but you’ll also get to learn the best ways to capture all of the beauty with your camera. Photographers of all skill levels are welcome, especially beginners.

Watercolor Plein Air Workshop

Another great way to capture the lovely scenery around you is to paint it. At this workshop, you’ll get to learn the basic techniques of watercolor painting and use your new skills to capture the wonderful views that are all around. This workshop is three hours long, and is great family fun for kids over the age of 10.

Winter

Snowplay

There’s no better way to say “I love you” to your sibling than chucking a snowball at them when they least expect it. In the wintertime here at Lassen Volcanic National Park, you can expect lots of snow, so you should make the most of it while you can.

Snowshowing

If you want to go snowshoeing, you have the option of going on your own or joining others in a ranger-led snowshoe walk. There are routes that vary in levels of difficulty when you go by yourself. If you choose to participate in the ranger-led program, you’ll get to learn it all as you go, including how to put on the snowshoes and how to move around in them.

Backcoutnry Skiing & Snowboarding

Backcountry skiing or snowboarding is recommended only for the most experienced skiers and snowboarders. They should also be aware of the avalanche risks. All backcountry terrain falls within avalanche territory, so skiers and snowboarders should be completely aware and prepared for the worst by bringing the proper gear.

Sledding

Sledding is a fun activity at Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter, due to the heavy snowfall. It’s important to keep in mind though that sledding is the number one cause of injury at the park during this time of year. Be sure that you pick a slope that’s right for you, and be extra careful. Eskimo Hill is a popular spot to go sledding and is located on the north side. For more experienced sledders, there are steeper slopes on the south side.

Cross-Country Skiing

During the winter, the highway that goes through the park is closed off, and this makes for the perfect place to go skiing. It’s a great opportunity for beginners to try skiing for the first time. There is also the McGowan Cross-Country Ski Area to try out.

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