Lassen Volcanic National Park


Lassen Volcanic National Park by Carla Charter
Hawaii is known for its volcanos. However, there are places on the mainland United States that also boast volcanoes including Lassen Volcanic National Park, located in Northern California.
Volcanos occur when pressure builds up in underground magma. “It is like a soda that is shaken up,” said Shonda Ochs Park Guide at Lassen Volcanic National Park. = “It has to find a way to escape. There is rock all over the park from previous eruptions. The entire park is filled with rock that was once originally part of a volcano.” The park has examples of all four of the types of Volcanos, Plug Dome, Shield, Cinder Dome, and Composite.
Not all eruptions are the same, Ochs said. Some, like Mount St. Helens, erupt with gas along with the magma which is what makes the volcano spew, she explained. Other’s erupt with only lava. “In Hawaii the magma is not filled with gas so it is flowing on the surface,” Ochs said. The last time there was a major volcanic eruption at Lassen Park was at Lassen’s Peak on May 22, 1915.
“It is always challenging to figure out which volcanos are active and which are dormant,” she continued. However, volcanoes threatening to erupt usually issue steam from the ground and have cluster earthquakes occurring in close proximity to the volcano threatening to erupt. The aftermath of volcanoes can also change the landscape. Volcanos can cause new volcanoes to be built. Ash can devastate crop land and cause health hazards for humans. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) regularly monitors 11 different seismographic stations throughout the park via satellite from their Menlo Park Observatory.
The park holds interest for more than its volcanos though. “The park has three distinct eco-regions,” Ochs said, “including features of the Sierra Nevada Range, south of the park, the Great Basin east of the park and the Cascade Volcanic Range which Lassen is part of. “
About three quarters of the park trails go through designated wilderness areas, land specifically set aside to remain as natural as possible, with no development or campgrounds in that area. “We have an extensive trail system with 150 miles of trails in the park. The trails lead through the wilderness to lakes, forest and meadows among other areas,” she said. The park has seven developed campgrounds outside of this area and a 30-mile road which travels north-south through the park and past scenic vistas.
“We are a very diverse region for plants and animals,” she continued. The park is home to deer, black bear, coyote, fox, mountain lion, ground squirrels, tree squirrels and snowshoe hares. “It is also a great place for birders,” she added.
Skiers can also enjoy the park. “This park receives the most snow in the entire state which can last until July. The park used to have permanent snow fields year-round but they were lost due to climate change,” Ochs said. More information on the park can be found at nps.gov/lavo

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