Lassen Volcanic National Park One Day Itinerary (2024)

Discovering Hidden Gems Affiliate Link Disclosure

Want to know the best Lassen Volcanic National Park one day itinerary? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

Lassen Volcanic National Park had been on our bucket list for YEARS before we ever got to visit.

To be honest, I had never even heard of it until I moved to California.

It’s definitely one of the more forgotten National Parks and one of my favorite hidden gems.

You can check out our full one day experience in this video on our YouTube Channel.

To get an idea of it’s location, it’s about 200 miles Northwest of Lake Tahoe, or a 3 1/2 to 4 hour drive.

From Sacramento, it’s roughly the same distance, directly North, but only takes about 3 hours since you’re mostly driving on the highway from this direction.

Lassen Volcanic National Park on a map
Courtesy of Google Maps

Planning A Trip? Use Our Favorite Resources Below!

?? Accommodations
?? Tours/Experiences
?? Flights
?? Car Rentals

Lassen Volcanic National Park One Day Itinerary

You’ll want to set your GPS to the Southwest entrance of the park to begin your day here.

There’s a visitor center, gift shop, restrooms, maps, and park rangers to answer any of your questions.

From there, you’ll make your way to the icon of the park, the Bumpass Hell Trail.

Lassen Volcanic National Park entrance sign

Bumpass Hell Trail

So the main reason we wanted to visit this park was this trail that leads to thermal formations that are similar to what is all over Yellowstone.

Due to the heavy snow this area gets, this trail is usually only open from about June through October.

The dates the trail is open all comes down to the weather, so you just have to check the official park website before visiting.

To get to the Bumpass Hell Trailhead, continue taking the Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway North for about 5 miles or so.

You’ll see signs for it and a parking lot off to the right.

On weekends, holidays, and mid-day this parking lot may fill up, so I highly recommend visiting early, on week days, OR do what we did.

While we were on this trip, the massive Dixie Fire was burning around the Southern and Eastern sides of the park.

The park was completely unaffected at the time and the winds were blowing East and South, away from the park.

While we were staying in Reno we were getting some smoke from the fire.

The entire drive in was unaffected by the fires except for smoky skies, but all roads and businesses remained open.

This would have deterred anyone that was coming in from out of town since a lot of the resorts in the Tahoe area ended up closing.

So that just left the locals and day trippers like us.

I do not recommend trying to visit when the wildfire conditions are dangerous though!

The parking lot was maybe half full when we arrived mid-day.

We saw maybe a dozen or so people each way on our hike.

I would imagine most of the time it is much busier.

Bumpass Hell Trail at Lassen Volcanic National Park

➡ Walking The Bumpass Hell Trail

So once you start on this trail, it is 3 miles roundtrip.

It took us about 2 hours to complete, but we spent a lot of time down in the basin just watching everything.

I would plan for this to take at least 90 minutes though.

This area of the park is at a much higher elevation than where we came from, so we weren’t 100% prepared for the weather.

We were wearing shorts, but at least we had jackets!

Most people were wearing long pants and jackets.

But as you hike you warm up and the cold doesn’t bother you.

wildflowers on the Bumpass Hell Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park

The first part of the trail takes you by a lake, some fields, and has great mountain views.

The trees and the fresh air smelled so nice!

It was very foggy in the beginning as you can see below, but it started to clear up as the day went on.

The YouTube video linked at the top of this post shows a lot more of this part of the trail.

Bumpass Hell Trail at Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California

➡ Bumpass Hell Basin

Now for the cool part.

Once you make your way down into the basin, start to the left where there is an overlook.

Then head back down to the right to walk around the boardwalk and see it all up-close!

trail signage on the Bumpass Hell Trail in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Again, the YouTube video above has some great views from the overlook and everything else we saw along the boardwalk.

While in this area, you MUST stay on the boardwalk, just like in Yellowstone.

The steam and ground is hot and if you step in the wrong spot it’ll burn right through many layers of your skin.

They can even press charges if you disobey this rule, so don’t be that person!

➡ Bumpass Hell Basin Overlooks

Once you make it to the other end of the boardwalk, if you keep going there are more overlooks.

From this side of the basin you can see much more color in all the thermal beds and the ground.

We spent a lot of time up here just watching all the steam and admiring the view.

From here, you just go back the way you came in to get back to the parking lot.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Scenic Highway

After that hike we decided to drive a bit along the Scenic Highway.

This highway is roughly 30 miles and goes up through the entire park.

In the YouTube video at the top of this post you can see much more of the drive.

Lassen Volcanic National Park Scenic Highway Drive

Where to Stay When Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park

For this particular trip, we were spending a week in Reno and decided to take a day trip out to Lassen Volcanic National Park on JP’s day off, so we weren’t staying locally.

Thunderbird Resort Club – Reno, Nevada

We found this resort through a certificate we had with Interval International which is a timeshare exchange program.

Our certificate allowed us to book a 7 night stay directly without having to trade in our timeshare points for it.

Instead we paid cash, which came out to about $50 a night for a 2 bedroom timeshare unit.

Check out our complete walk-through video tour of the unit in this video on our YouTube Channel.

The Best Local Stay: The Village At Highlands Ranch

If you’re looking to stay much closer, then The Village at Highlands Ranch is as close as it gets.

It’s located in the town of Mill Creek, just outside of the main entrance of Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Here To Book Your Stay At The Village At Highlands Ranch Today!

Getting to Lassen Volcanic National Park

For this particular trip, we drove in from Reno, which is about a 3 hour drive or so.

From the Orange County, California area it’s about 9 hours North and from the San Francisco area it’s about 4-5 hours East.

We drove to the Southwest Entrance since everything we were doing was in that area of the park.

It’s also the most convenient entrance no matter where you’re driving in from.

We made a brief stop at the Visitor’s Center for the restrooms and to get our souvenir Christmas ornament, but unfortunately the gift shop was closed.

Apparently it is run by a 3rd party who, at the time of our visit, had not returned to operating since shutting down for the pandemic.

We had just renewed our National Park Pass at the Yorktown Battlefield during our Ultimate US Road Trip, so that $80 pass covered our admission here for the day, which is normally $30 per vehicle.

Weather At Lassen Volcanic National Park

These two photos below were taken in the exact same spot about 2 hours apart.

The first photo was when we started our hike and the second photo is when we were returning from our hike!

It happened so gradually that we didn’t even realize how foggy it was when we started and how much it had cleared in just 2 hours.

I’m curious how it looks on a completely sunny day!

But anyway, like I said before, this area of the park is in a higher elevation, so it will typically be cooler than areas outside the park.

So definitely check the weather before you go and come prepared!

Resources For Planning Your Trip To Lassen Volcanic

If you need help planning your trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park, check out our Tips For Planning A Trip To Anywhere (A Step-By-Step Guide).

Also, read our Best Tips For Staying Safe When Traveling During Extreme Weather if you’re traveling during potential wildfires or the snow in Winter.

Check out our Best Tips For Staying Well While You Travel if you’re prone to getting colds or allergies when you travel or have other ailments.

Lastly, if you’re traveling on a budget, read up on our Best Tips For Traveling On A Budget: Your Guide To Planning An Affordable Trip.

Visit More California National Parks

California is home to 9 of America’s National Parks.

Pair them for an epic California road trip or if you’re a local, take a weekend to visit each one.

Yosemite National Park One Day Itinerary

Yosemite National Park is easily the most well known and popular of the National Parks in California.

There’s so much to do in this park, but the average visitor can see many of the highlights in a one day trip.

Lower Yosemite Falls at Yosemite National Park

Death Valley National Park One Day Itinerary

Death Valley is in the middle of the desert and is home to the lowest elevation in the US.

It’s an easy visit from Vegas or from Southern California.

I recommend visiting in the shoulder season so it’s not 115+ degrees outside when you visit.

Some of the original Star Wars scenes were filmed here too!

Devil's Golf Course at Death Valley National Park

Channel Islands National Park Santa Cruz Island Day Trip

Santa Cruz Island is one of the most visited islands in the Channel Islands.

It’s an easy boat trip from Ventura Harbor Village.

You schedule your trip in advance for arrival and departure times on the island and you can even choose to stay and camp overnight on the island if you like.

Santa Cruz Island at Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park Santa Rosa Island Day Trip

Santa Rosa Island is a bit further out, but can still be visited on a day trip from Ventura.

It takes a little longer to get there and back, but that’s more opportunities for whale watching along the way.

Santa Rosa Island at Channel Islands National Park

Joshua Tree National Park Day Trip Itinerary

Joshua Tree is just outside of Palm Springs and is best paired with a trip to the whole area.

It’s one of the Dark Sky Parks where you can see virtually everything in the sky at night due to its distance from any neighboring cities.

But if you’re visiting just for the day, we have an easy itinerary that takes you through the whole park, ending with the perfect sunset where you can see all the way to Mexico.

Skull Rock at Joshua Tree National Park

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park One Day Itinerary

Sequoia and Kings Canyon are technically 2 separate National Parks, but they’re connected to each other, so most visitors will see both when they visit.

You’ll see some of the oldest and tallest trees in the US and venture down into the valley into a completely different environment.

Lunch at the lodge is also a great experience.

Sequoia National Park overlook

Click here for more National Park itineraries around the US.

Conclusion: Lassen Volcanic National Park One Day Itinerary

Lassen Volcanic National Park is the most under-rated National Park we’ve visited so far.

I highly recommend taking a day trip here if you’re visiting Reno, Lake Tahoe, or any of those surrounding areas.

It’s really unlike any place else.

Pin this for later!

Lassen Volcanic National Park One Day Itinerary