Travel Photo Thursday: Lassen, A Hidden Gem of a Park

Travel Photo Thursday: Lassen, A Hidden Gem of a Park

While growing up in Seattle, I made my first visit to a national park: Mount Rainier.

Mt Rainier
(Jeff Flickr Photo)

In winter, we’d go sledding by the Paradise Inn.

During one summer after college was out for the year, I climbed part way up the mountain from Paradise with a fraternity brother and we skied back down to the Inn. I wore shorts, and ended up with a snow-reflected sunburn so bad that for years you could see the “tan line” that marked the top of my ski boots.

Then I came to California and went off to my second national park, Yosemite.

Yosemite Valley

But the third such one that I visited, Lassen, remains my favorite of all of the national parks in the Western U.S. that I’ve been to over the last 40-odd years.

Lassen lacks the grandeur of the Grand Canyon, and its geothermal features aren’t as astounding as those found at Yellowstone.

Lassen Peak From Manzanita Lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park

And its not a big park, nor well-known, nor as heavily visited as some. Only about a tenth as many people come to it annually—most after snow is cleared from the main part road, sometime between May and mid-July, and when the in-park lodgings close in early to mid-October—as pour into Yosemite each year.

Bungalows at Drakesbad Guest Ranch in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Like Rainier, Lassen Peak is a volcano, the southernmost in the Cascade Range. But unlike Rainier, you needn’t have a mountaineering guide nor technical climbing skills to hike the steep trail up to its 10,463’ summit during the summer. (I did it back in 1972.)

Trail to Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen has forested lakes.

Juniper Lake, Lassen Volcanic National Park

And a stinky, sulfurous wonderland known as Bumpass Hell.

Bumpass Hell Boardwalk, Lassen Volcanic National Park

You can hike, fish, horseback ride, shoot photos (of course), or just loaf.

Horse Corral, Draksebad Guest Ranch, Lassen Volcanic National Park

And for those arriving or living in the San Francisco Bay Area, driving-time wise, it’s about as close as chock-a-block with tourists Yosemite.

(Read more about visiting Lassen in yesterday’s story, “Lassen: An Undiscovered National Park Gem.” And click here for more photos of the park which Google+ has assembled into a “Story.”)

(Click on an image to enlarge to full-size. Visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more of this week’s Travel Photo Thursday shots.)

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6 Replies to “Travel Photo Thursday: Lassen, A Hidden Gem of a Park”

  1. Wonderful photos. I’m working to visit all our National Parks. I have never heard of Lassen, so I will add it to my list. Bumpas Hell looks interesting! Gotta love that sulfur smell. Thanks for sharing!!

  2. Dick, I love a National Park, and have been to both Rainier and Yosemite, but have never heard of Lassen…I’m falling behind. Gotta go. Love your pics!

  3. You’re right that Lassen doesn’t get as much attention as the other parks. Frankly, I knew nothing about it until I read this. Looks like it may be a good alternative for those wanting to avoid the big crowds but still have a great experience.

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