Table of Contents Show
- About Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Can You Camp for Free in Lassen Volcanic National Park?
- What Is the Best Time to Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park?
- The Best Campsites Near Lassen National Park
- Popular Hikes Near Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Lassen Volcanic National Park Camping Is a Lava Fun
If your idea of a vacation is exploring a geological wonder, you will love Lassen Volcanic National Park camping. Bring your tent or RV to see an active plug dome volcano during the summer. Treat yourself to geothermal activity, from hot springs to steam roiling out of the ground through fumaroles in the earth’s crust.
Due to recent wildfires, you might find a slightly different experience. Some trails and campgrounds in some park regions may still experience closures as they undergo maintenance.
But a visit to this Northern California park is like watching a geology textbook come to life. Plan a trip to this jewel with this Lassen Volcanic National Park camping guide.
About Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park was actually created from within the Earth’s surface as magma heated and boiled onto the crust, creating Lassen Peak. You can see the active topography throughout the park as fumaroles steam, mud pots bubble, and hot springs emerge.
The subduction process generated heat as the Gorda Plate pushed beneath the North American Continental Plate. And during the Pleistocene Era, Lassen Peak exploded onto the scene, emptying its magma chamber. The volcano then collapsed on itself, making it the world’s largest plug dome volcano.
With massive heat creating the area’s landscapes, it’s hard to imagine the park dealing with cold climates. Although Lassen has no true glaciers, the national park does include fourteen permanent snowfields. Visitors can venture from the craggy igneous mountain faces to year-round snow.
Lassen Volcanic National Park combines two national landmarks originally designated by Theodore Roosevelt: Cinder Cone National Monument and Lassen Peak National Monument.
But with a three-year eruption cycle from 1914 to 1917, the National Park Service combined the two into Lassen Volcanic National Park. It is located in northeastern California and is the southernmost volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range.
Can You Camp for Free in Lassen Volcanic National Park?
You can’t find free camping within Lassen Volcanic National Park. It has seven campgrounds ranging from $16 to $26. You can go dry camping off-season in some of them with a fee of $10 to $21. You can also find many campsites outside the national park. Stay near Lassen National Forest in the east or one of the many small towns and camps surrounding the park.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Lassen Volcanic National Park?
Most of the campgrounds within the park stay open from June through August. So if you want to camp, try visiting in the summer. However, Manzanita Campground usually opens about May 20 and may have an extended season into mid-October.
Lassen is pretty inaccessible during the winter. However, winter enthusiasts may enjoy snow camping and snowshoeing. Just come prepared — you’ll have to be self-reliant.
Additionally, this area has a high fire danger, especially in the dry summers. You may prefer to visit in spring if you can find a spot. Lassen Volcanic National Park camping and hiking are subject to closures and fire restrictions. Always check the website or call ahead for the latest information regarding the area.
The Best Campsites Near Lassen National Park
Lassen National Park camping can take place in any of the park’s seven campgrounds. Opening dates depend on snow clearance and accessibility, usually June through August. Some sites stretch into September. We’ve selected three of our favorite campgrounds to help you plan a camping trip to the national park.
Recently, the area suffered significant damage from the Dixie Fire. As such, many campgrounds and trails may still be closed. You can find more camping outside the park and dry camping in certain parking lots. Check the website for updated information.
Keep in Mind: Do you like to bring your own firewood camping? It may be causing you more problems than you know.
Manzanita Lake Campground
Fees: $26 in season, $15 for dry camping
Number of Sites: 179 campsites
Max RV Length: 40 ft
Manzanita Lake Campground lies along the shores of Manzanita Lake and has the longest season of all but the Southwest Walk-In Campground. It has 179 sites and 30 tent-only ones. Campers have access to vault and flush toilets and hot showers in season.
It has electrical hookups and potable water available only during the season. You can find a camp store, dump station, and laundry at this campground.
Fees: $22 in season, $15 for dry camping
Number of Sites: 101 campsites
Max RV Length: 35 ft
One of the more remote campgrounds in the park, Butte Lake, is closed indefinitely because of the recent Dixie Fire. It has several reservation-only campsites, and numbers 1-15 are first-come, first-served.
It has a stock corral that you can reserve, although the campground has few other amenities. You can use the vault toilets and get potable water seasonally. Butte Lake Campground does have six group campsites.
Fees: $22 to $24 in season, $15 for dry camping
Number of Sites: 46 campsites
Max RV Length: No RVs or trailers allowed
Summit Lake has a north and south campground. Both access the lake, but you can find better swimming on the North Shore. You’ll have few amenities at Summit Lake.
You can get potable water seasonally and use the flush and vault toilets. Make reservations to use the stock corral for your horses at this campground too. You can book a site through Recreation.org.
Keep in Mind: Planning a road trip to California? Hit all 7 of these California National Parks in one Road Trip from LA in an RV!
Popular Hikes Near Lassen Volcanic National Park
With more than 150 miles of hiking trails in Lassen National Park, it is hard to whittle the list down to our favorite three. We have included one for every skill level, but remember, after you tackle these, you can find plenty more that showcase the park’s hydrothermal areas.
About the Hike: The most popular hike, by far, is climbing Lassen Peak. Many consider it a strenuous hike, as you will gain almost 2,000 ft in elevation within an hour and a half.
It has numerous switchbacks to get you to the top of this plug dome, but you will have bragging rights, having hiked a volcano. Because everyone who visits wants that same experience, you will likely see others along the trail.
Oh, and don’t bring the dog — they’re not allowed on the Lassen Peak Trail.
Bumpass Hell Trail
About the Hike: For less experienced hikers, the Bumpass Hell Trail is an easy 2.7-mile round-trip trek. You will gain 400 ft in elevation to a beautiful overlook, then hike down to some boardwalks for a personal look at bubbling mud pots and geothermal activity. The hike will take about an hour to complete, so it’s a great option for families and those with limited time in the park.
Kings Creek Falls Trail
About the Hike: A moderate trail with some altitude holds a special surprise toward the end of this 2.7-mile trek. You’ll find a waterfall hidden along the path. And although it is best suited for semi-experienced hikers, most can finish this walk in about one hour and fifteen minutes.
Lassen Volcanic National Park Camping Is a Lava Fun
There is nothing like seeing science come to life, and that’s what you’ll find when you explore Lassen Volcanic National Park. You can get a closer look at the effects of plate tectonics, earthquakes, and exploding volcanoes when you go.
Stay aware of fire dangers and practice safe and smart camping. Follow all rules and restrictions to maintain the park and prevent further wildfires. Always go online and call ahead for the latest information.
From bubbling mud pots to waterfalls, the scenery and experiences here won’t disappoint. Pick a campsite near all the action, and you may agree that Lassen Volcanic National Park camping is a lava fun.