As I sit in snowy New England waiting for spring, I’m dreaming of knocking more National Parks off my “hiked” list. Although that may sound like a far-off activity, it actually isn’t. Before long I’ll be heading to Texas and New Mexico to continue my very pleasurable quest to hike all 59 of the U.S. parks. I’ll be writing more about that soon. For today, let me talk about one that I’ve already taken off the list.
A lot of people have never even heard of Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. Located high in the Lassen National Forest, we’re talking a fairly long way from much of anything! I stayed in the tiny town of Mineral, which was a short distance from the entrance of Lassen. Mineral, by the way, had a population of 123 the last time the census was taken, if that tells you anything about the location of this park.
I had been to Lassen Volcanic on my very first road trip in 1994, and I remember being surprised by the hydrothermal features of the park. It was like a little Yellowstone! I never forgot the name of the main thermal area, Bumpass Hell. I mean, really, how often do you get to visit a place called Bumpass Hell?
Visiting high-elevation parks like Lassen are wonderful for many different reasons, and wildflowers in July is one of the biggies:
Cool, clear lakes, startling blue skies, and, oh, no crowds. Lassen receives about 500,000 visitors a year, which may seem like a lot. But if you go down the road a couple hundred miles to Yosemite that number rises to almost four million. Which gives you a kind of cozy feeling about Lassen. If you’re looking for a bit of solitude, this may just be your place!