Our return route to Boston currently includes 16 national parks. The second on our list after Redwoods was Lassen Volcanic National Park in northern California. I’ll be honest: I had never heard of Lassen before planning this trip – it’s definitely a less frequented park. It may be smaller and lack some of the grandeur of the marquee parks, but Lassen is definitely worth a visit.
The extra time we spent in Redwoods coupled with the longer than expected drive (we ended up on a very slow going unpaved road through an Indian Reservation) ate into our exploration time on the first day, forcing us to push it to the morning after. With only a few hours to see the place, we got up at 6:30am and rushed to the park for a whirlwind tour. We started with a quick 1.5 mile walk around Manzanita Lake, which is just inside the entrance of the same name. At 7:30am, it was pretty peaceful and we saw a family of deer – two adults and two babies.
After that it was on to Bumpass Hell (great name), some thermal hot spots that are a bit like a mini Yellowstone. We took the almost three-mile walk there and back, a not-too-challenging path that provided some nice mountain vistas followed by the fuming thermal hot spots. Be prepared for smells! Bumpass Hell is a stinky one. But, it’s a cool spot to check out, and according to the sign it boasts the hottest fumarole in the world.
After checking out the visitor center it was on to Lake Tahoe, where a couple of our good friends from Boston were meeting up with us for the night. The drive took around four hours and was a pleasant one, especially when views of the lake came into view. Our stay in Lake Tahoe, it turns out, was quite luxurious. The four of us stayed in a gorgeous suite at the Deerfield Lodge in South Lake Tahoe. It was a great, well-located property and the room was quite possibly the swankiest I’ve ever stayed in. The staff was all friendly, the grounds and common areas were lovely and there was even a continental breakfast. I love hotel breakfasts! I’d highly recommend this place if you’re ever in the area.
To continue our swanky evening, we had also booked a private boat tour of the lake with Tahoe Lake Tours. Captain Troy took the four of us out on a speedboat for two hours, our own private tour. He took the time to tell us all about the lake, the properties on the shore and the natural features. Quite a pleasant way to spend the evening. For dinner we went to Riva Grill, a spot that had been recommended but which unfortunately was a disappointment. The food was incredibly overpriced and the service was slow. Oh well, ya can’t win them all! And it didn’t matter. With good company and a lovely backdrop, we had a wonderful evening in beautiful Lake Tahoe.