Lassen Volcanic National Park

So, I’ve been holding onto these photos for a couple of weeks now because I think they aren’t very good (should have taken off the circular polarizer– lesson learned). Back when we stayed in Fall River Mills so that we could visit Burney Falls and Mossbrae Falls, we also went to Lassen Volcanic National Park. We actually went on the way home. It was a little out of the way, but I really wanted to visit Bumpass Hell. It’s been on the bucket list for awhile.

Traveling with a baby is unpredictable. We intended to spend an entire day in Lassen so that we could see Bumpass Hell, Devil’s Kitchen, Manzanita Lake, and the Subway Caves, but it just didn’t happen that way. I’m significantly more spontaneous now that I’m a parent. I’ve had to learn to let go of plans sometimes and improvise. I heard someone on a podcast of Radiolab say once that, “To have a kid is to accept a future you can’t control,” or something similar, and that’s so true!

Anyway, at least we got to see Bumpass Hell, and we also saw the Sulphur Works as a bonus. Bumpass Hell is a 3 mile out and back trail to some natural geothermal pools. This is a relatively easy hike with some nice views of Mt. Lassen and Lake Helen along the way.

Lake Helen

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to what used to be an active volcano some 400,000 years ago. When it stopped erupting, it began to decay, and glacial activity eroded the park into the valley it is today. Bumpass Hell, Devil’s Kitchen, and other geothermal hot spots in Lassen are the last remnants of the volcano.

About 1.5 miles in, you come across the sulfur pools. You can smell them long before you can actually see them.

If you have a sensitive stomach or if you find the smell of sulfur extremely off-putting, I can’t say I’d recommend this hike. But if you can steel yourself for the smell, it’s certainly worth it. So, so cool to see in person.

The bubbling cauldrons are about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Not a place to go off-trail. In the 1800s, Kendall Bumpass, for which the area is named, had to have a leg amputated after getting it burnt in a boiling hot pool here.

After checking out the pools and listening to the violent hissing of sulfur vents for a while, we retraced our steps to the trail head and drove to Sulphur Works, which is wheelchair accessible. But folks, please play it safe and stay on the sidewalk and/or trail!

Lassen’s website advises visitors to be cautious: “On May 5, 2012, a visitor was air-lifted to a regional burn unit after stepping off the sidewalk at Sulphur Works. The ground appeared solid, but she easily broke through a one-inch crust, exposing her foot and ankle to boiling acidic water and mud.”

I’m seeing a theme here: Stay on the trail!

Sulfur Works!

All in all, it was a fun afternoon. 🙂

Until next time,

P.S. Happy Halloween!



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