Lassen Volcanic National Park started as two separate national monuments in 1907: Cinder Cone National Monument and Lassen Peak National Monument. The areas were merged into the Lassen Volcanic National Park in August 1916. This shift in designation occurred after a major volcanic eruption occurred in 1915 with other minor and major eruptions continuing through 1921. The park can be reached via Highways 89 and 36.
Mt. Lassen (10,457 feet) is the largest plug dome volcano in the world and the southern most volcano in the Cascade Range. The park is one of the few areas in the world where all four types of volcanoes can be found (plug dome, shield, cinder cone, and strato). The first time I visited Lassen Volcanic National Park was in October 2016. I figured it was early enough in the season that the road through the park would still be open. I was wrong. I entered through the north entrance, but I was stopped after going only a few miles. I did see a view of Mt. Lassen as well as Lake Manzanita.
I returned to Lassen Volcanic National Park in August 2017. On that trip, I entered through the south entrance and took the 29-mile scenic road through the park, ending at Lake Manzanita. Construction on the road was completed in 1931. Near Mt. Lassen, the road reaches 8,512 feet, making it the highest road in the Cascade Mountains. It is not unusual for 40 feet of snow to accumulate along the road, especially near Lake Helen. Patches of snow often remain until July and August.
It was a beautiful day, and the drive offered impressive vistas, incredible roadside details, and beautiful wildflowers.
Along Highway 36 heading toward Lassen Volcanic National Park
Near the South Entrance
Meadows & King Creek
Chaos Crags is the youngest group of lava domes in the park. The six dacite domes were created roughly 1,000 years ago.
Chaos Jumbles are the remnants of a rock avalanche from about 300 years ago. The rocks traveled up to 100 miles per hour, settled near the base of Chaos Crags, and eventually dammed Manzanota Creek, forming Manzanita Lake.
Hot Rocks: On May 19/20, 1915, Mt. Lassen erupted, shooting out hot boulders that started an avalanche of rocks and snow. The eruption devastated the area, depositing large, hot boulders across the landscape. One boulder is marked in the park as Hot Rock. It is a 300-ton rock that traveled five miles. It is a good example of dacite lava. Big boulders are common across the park’s landscape.