The National Park Service turned 100 on August 25, 2016, and what better way to celebrate? By visiting a national park! Which is what my friend, Ronn and I did the weekend of August 27th. A brief history of the National Park Service: it was created on August 25, 1916, by an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson. But Yellowstone National Park became the first national park in an act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872. The national park Ronn and I visited was Lassen Volcanic National Park, which is essentially right in our “backyard”. Well, sort of!! It’s roughly an hour and a half north of Yuba City (where I live), in Tehama County. The park is about 50 miles or so from the city of Red Bluff, where we stayed on Friday night, August 26th, before going into the park the next morning on Saturday. Red Bluff is one of the closest places to stay overnight if you’re going to visit the park. They have ample hotel rooms available, and it’s just an hour’s drive to the park. Because it was the 100th birthday of the National Park Service, entrance fees to not only Lassen, but other national parks and national parasites were waived. Saturday morning, we ventured our way to Lassen Volcanic NP. Our first stop was to the Kohm-Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center, which is right inside the entrance gate.
The Kohm-Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. Our first stop.
We walked around the Visitor Center, checking out the gift shop and taking a few photos as well.
A view from the Visitor Center.
After that, we set off on our adventure in Lassen Volcanic National Park. Our plan was do a couple of easy hikes. Our first stop came rather quickly and unexpectedly. It was the Sulphur Works, which is a bunch of bubbling pools and mud pots. The original site was owned Mathias Supan, who named it the Sulphur Works. It was also the site of the Sulphur Works Inn, which was owned by the Supan Family in 1865. The inn included a bathhouse built over steam vents, cabins and a dining hall. The park purchased the Sulphur Works back in 1952.
A sign depicting the old Supan’s Sulphur Works. The park purchased the site from the family in 1952.
Bubbling off the roadway!!
A bubbling sulphur creek. No swimming!!
Sulphur Works and learning about mud pots.
A hot boiling mudpot.
DANGER! A sign warning visitors to stay on the sidewalk, as the ground may give way. One of many signs we saw around the park.
So after taking in the Sulphur Works and its boiling mud pots, we went off in search of our first hike, Bumpass Hell. Bumpass Hell is an easy to moderate 1.3 mile hike, or three miles round trip. It will lead hikers to an active hydrothermal basin, where you can see active boiling pools, mud pots and fumaroles. Bumpass Hell got its name when, in 1864, explorer Kendall Vanhook Bumpass and his partner, Major Pearson B. Reading happened upon the boiling pools, with the intent of mining the minerals and turning the area into a tourist attraction. Bumpass took a misstep, and stepped into a boiling mud pool that was at 240 degrees Fahrenheit, essentially losing his leg. His dream of turning the area into a tourist spot never came true. Today, you can hike to Bumpass Hell, but be careful where you step!!
The sign warning visitors about Bumpass’ Hell
When we arrived at the parking lot of the trailhead, it was essentially empty, sans a few cars. We laced up our hiking boots, took a few photos, and off we went in search of Bumpass’ Hell.
The parking to the Bumpass Hell trailhead, looking pretty empty……now.
The display board describing the three-mile round-trip hike to Bumpass Hell.
Hikers and Campers: follow the backcountry rules and regulations!!!
Ronn is taking the lead. Getting any cell reception, Ronn?
My first shot of Lassen Peak!!
Lassen Peak, with Lake Helen in the foreground
Ronn in the lead on the narrow trail!!
A view of a mountaintop, trees and a ribbon-thin stream down below
The rocky trail behind us
Guess I’d better catch up to Ronn!!
A different view of Lassen Peak
A panoramic view!
A green and rocky trail, with a trail leading to……..
Look REAL close……can you spot the deer??
Off in the distance……it’s Bumpass Hell!!
A Bumpass Hell boiling pool
Steam rising from a boiling pool
One furnace, One system
A sulphur creek. No dipping your toes in this one!!
The Big Boiler!! At 322 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s the hottest fumarole in the world that’s in a non-erupting volcano
Another view of the Big Boiler
Heed the rules! You don’t want to end up like Kendall Vanhook Bumpass did and lose a leg!!!
A boiling pool
Pool “Fool” of Gold
An actual pool “fool” of gold! The black scum you see bubbling is actually pyrite.
A final parting shot from Bumpass Hell before hiking back.
We started making the trek back from Bumpass Hell, when we encountered a large, mixed crowd of people hiking in the opposite direction. We thought nothing of it, and continued on. All of a sudden we heard some loud screams coming from the trail from the direction we had just hiked. It sounded like the screams were coming from the large group we had just encountered earlier. The screams sounded like someone was being attacked. Us and several other hikers stopped in our tracks as we heard the screams. We couldn’t tell what was going on, whether the group was screwing around, or someone was actually being attacked. We didn’t see anyone running for their lives from that direction, so we continued on to the parking lot. Remember when I said when we arrived at the parking lot it was quite empty, sans a few cars? Much different scenario this time around: the parking lot was JAMMED!! Cars were circling around looking for spots, while others were lined up, waiting to get IN the parking lot. We left not a moment too soon, in search of our next adventure. En route to our next adventure, we even drove by Lassen Peak. You can even hike to the top of it, but we didn’t on this trip. Perhaps next time!
Lassen Peak…..yes, I know I added this picture earlier, but I’m adding it again!
Our next adventure had us going to Cold Boiling Lake, a short drive from Bumpass Hell. In fact, you can easily hike to the Cold Boiling Lake, as it’s about a two-mile hike. We parked at the Kings Creek Picnic Area, and started our hike. It’s an easy half-mile with no elevation gain at all.
Direction sign to Cold Boiling Lake and other points of interest.
Once again, Ronn is taking the lead to Cold Boiling Lake!
However, when we arrived at the lake, we were a bit dismayed to find the cold boiling lake was actually small boiling pond, not the larger body of water that was next to it.
The Cold Boiling Lake we hiked to.
The larger lake next to the cold boiling lake
So needless to say, we didn’t stay very long at the lake. So it was back to the car in search of our next adventure. But our next adventure wasn’t where our next hike would be. It would be where to get lunch, as we were feeling the hunger pangs! We continued driving through the park, checking things out, never stopping until we go the Manzanita Lake Campground and Store, on the other end of the park, where we ended up having lunch. After that, we left the park toward home, taking with us the memories and pictures of Lassen Volcanic National Park, vowing to visit it again!
My final parting shot! Until next time……