While growing up in Seattle, I made my first visit to a national park: Mount Rainier.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
Lassen has forested lakes.
And a stinky, sulfurous wonderland known as Bumpass Hell.
You can hike, fish, horseback ride, shoot photos (of course), or just loaf.
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.
(Click on an image to enlarge to full-size. Visit Budget Travelers Sandbox for more of this week’s Travel Photo Thursday shots.)