I thought that after all of this driving around California, I had seen most of what there was to see. I had lived in this state for a decade, and although I only really started exploring in the last two years, I had spent more time here than anywhere else. Yet time after time, I find something new, and on each journey, I don’t ever know if I have finally “peaked” as each place seems to be better, or al least just as wondrous, as the last. For todays voyage, I was traveling south from Oregon, feeling on top of the world and anxious to get back to Los Angeles, but like many times before, I saw a brown “National Park Service” sign when I stopped for dinner off of the 5 in Red Bluff. I couldn’t believe that there was yet another park up here that I hadn’t been to, let alone even heard of! So naturally, I charged up and set off, ready to discover what waited for me.
And I was on the road, off to see the park. I was quite interested that it was specifically categorized as a Volcanic National Park opposed to just a National Park. I quickly learned that this is because the entire area is still covered with active volcanos an bubbling mud springs. The namesake peak actually erupted as recently as 1915! That might seem a while back for us humans, but on the time scale of the earth, that’s just like yesterday! More excited than ever, I pulled into the park ready to go on my first hike. Looking at the map, I choose a short one (1.5 mi one way) and a longer one (3 mi one way) thinking that would be enough to wet my appetite. Quickly after setting of on the short hike though, I realized I hadn’t taken into consideration any of the elevations changes and I was headed straight up the side of this mountain! I was too far along to turn back though and pressed forward.
As I reached the top, I came upon a small crystal blue pond covered by a thin layer of ice. Pine trees jutted up wherever they could while golden grass covered in the spaces in between. Taking a second to look at the view brought notice billows of fog exiting from many small vents. Reds and oranges surrounded these areas, rich with minerals constantly coming out of the earth. Everything about this was majestic and I sat for a while thinking about how peaceful nature can feel at times before I set off. Down the mountain and on to my next hike.
The next area I wanted to visit was through Bumpass Hell, the largest hydrothermal area west of Yellowstone. Getting to it was 1.5 mile trek along the side of a mountain and then I planned on continuing on further. As I traversed further and further away, I looked back and saw my car in the distance, surrounded by nothing but these majestic mountains. A sense of pride came over me as I stood there thinking. I felt like in the last year, experiences like this had truly reshaped my life. I continued on and passed through Bumpass Hell, loving every moment being alone as I watched the mud bubble and boil. As I walked back, I though about how this place truly represented everything amazing about California and I smiled.
Closest Supercharger: Red Bluff CA 56mi
82 Belle Mill Rd Red Bluff CA
Lassens Volcanic National Park
21820 Lassen Peak Hwy, Mineral, CA 96063