With so many people eager to visit California’s iconic landscapes, a trip to one of the state’s many renowned state and national parks may require months of advance planning. Fortunately there are still places where you can enjoy some of the state’s natural beauty without the crowds.
Four and a half hours northeast of Berkeley, the adventurous grad student will find Lassen Volcanic National Park. The names of some the attractions – Bumpass Hell, Cold Boiling Lake, Sulphur Works, and Devil’s Kitchen – hint at some of the unusual scenery you’ll encounter at this park, known for its active volcanism and hydrothermal areas.
At Bumpass Hell, the sulfur-scented air, the billowing steam vents, and bubbling pools of mud are fascinating, but the story of how one unfortunate pioneer lent the area his name will surely have you obeying warnings to stay on the trail. Afterward, the desire for a breath of fresh air and a view of the Cascade and Sierra Mountains may send you scampering up two of the park’s volcanoes, Mt. Lassen or the Cinder Cone. There are also a number of day hikes to stunning waterfalls and pretty alpine lakes. Finally, you’ll find a number of pleasant campgrounds to choose from. Camping for at least one night is recommended, since the park is a good drive from the nearest cities and there’s at least a full day’s worth of activities to keep you occupied.