Aside from the Lassen Peak trail, Bumpass Hell is the most popular area in Lassen Volcanic National Park. This easily accessed, large hydrothermal area is a roiling, boiling bed of vapor, water, mud and rock. It can be reached by a well-marked 1.5-mile trail from the parking area. Here you’re at about 8,000 ft., and although the trail is quite easy, it can seem moderately difficult if you’re not accustomed to the altitude.
Big Boiler is the main attraction on the Bumpass Hell trail. The largest fumarole (steam vent) in the park, it is also one of the hottest in the world, reading as high as 322 degrees Fahrenheit. The sulfur and other minerals in the gasses steaming up from deep in the Earth’s core turn nearby rocks surreal hues of orange, green, brown and yellow.
The trail is named for an early settler, Kendall Vanhook Bumpass, who in 1865 broke through the thin crust of apparently solid ground in the area, and fell into the boiling, acidic mud beneath it. He severely scalded his leg, which had to be amputated. The park has built boardwalks so that visitors can safely view the geothermal features of Bumpass Hell. Several tourists who’ve wandered off from them have suffered fates similar to that of Bumpass, so please stay on the boardwalks.
Check with the visitor’s center for trail closure information, for the winter and spring months bring severe weather. Each year the park staff tries to open the trail by the 4th of July, often succeeding by as early as mid-June.
WHERE: In the southwestern part of Lassen Volcanic National Park. From Redding take Hwy 44 east about 48 miles to the Manzanita Lake entrance to the park, then head south on Hwy 89. Follow Hwy 89 for 22.6 miles to the turnoff for the Bumpass Hell parking lot. The turnoff, which goes to the left, is immediately past Lake Helen, which you will see on your right. (google map)
MORE INFO: 530-595-4480 | www.nps.gov/lavo