How long to spend at Lassen Volcanic NP?

Jul 20th, 2017, 09:18 PM
  #1  
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How long to spend at Lassen Volcanic NP?

My husband and I are going to San Francisco for about a week and a half in mid-late August to visit our two sons and their families who live there. We try to get there once or twice a year, if we can, so we have done a lot of sightseeing in the city and the immediate area. We plan to rent a car and go exploring further afield for a few days in the middle of this visit, heading north this time. We've decided that we'd like to go see Lassen Volcanic NP, it looks quite interesting. We enjoy photography, and we also like to do moderate hikes - nothing too strenuous, as we're both a bit out of shape (and I know this is at a fairly high elevation). Not really knowing much about this area, it's hard to judge how much time we should plan to spend there to hit the highlights and see what we shouldn't miss without having to do long, strenuous hikes. We like to kayak, and I know that renting kayaks on Manzanita Lake is a possibility too. I would also like to go see Burney Falls, which isn't far from the park.

Can anyone familiar with the park and area tell me how long they would recommend we stay there? Would two days be enough time? Is there enough to do and see to fill up that time? I was thinking of making reservations for either two or three nights at a motel nearby.

I was also considering driving over to the coast after that, spending the night in Mendocino (or nearby), visiting Glass Beach in Fort Bragg, then driving along the coast as far as Bodega Bay on our way back to San Francisco. Of course, we could do that in reverse, driving up the coast first, if that makes more sense.

Is this too ambitious? Should we just concentrate our time around Lassen NP, spend more time there, and save the coast for another trip? Any advice from those who know the area would be much appreciated.
Sara is offline  
Jul 20th, 2017, 10:31 PM
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2 days (which would require 3 nights due to the distances involved) would be good for Lassen and McArthur Burney Falls.

Unfortunately from there over to the coast is one long a$$ haul. One would think since Lassen and Mendocino are in northern CA and not that far as the crow flies it would be an easy 'two fer'. But it is nearly a 6 hour drive. Mendocino/Ft Bragg is an much shorter drive from San Francisco.

If you will be visiting the kids other times - I'd save the north coast for another trip.
janisj is online now  
Jul 21st, 2017, 06:57 AM
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Recommendations to stay south of Lassen Park near Mineral would be The St Bernard Lodge (my son is staying there next week and I can report back) or Mill Creek Resort (cabins). Having stayed in a motel years ago in Mineral and then recently driven through the area again, much has not changed and I would select either of those I've mentioned above.

If you wish to stay north of Lassen NP, I highly recommend Grace Lake Resort in Shingletown. I stayed in one of their cabins 2 years ago. A group of cabins with kitchenettes and a swimming pool on site. Reasonable and a very comfortable location.

Other sights around Lassen could include Lake Shasta but I agree with Janis, the coast is a long way to drive. Almost 5 hours if you drove from Shingletown to Fort Bragg.

Shingletown has more restaurants to chose from than Mineral, but I like the hikes in the southern part of Lassen better.
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Jul 21st, 2017, 07:32 PM
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Thanks, janisj, I guess we'll skip the coast this trip. I just want to do it all, which, of course is impossible! I'll book three nights near Lassen.

gailscout, do you know if the St.Bernard Lodge has en suite bathrooms in each room? Unfortunately, you can't take that for granted in some of these rustic places, and their web site doesn't say. It does look like a nice place to stay, if it does. Grace Lake Resort looks promising, too. Which do you think is the better location for seeing the major sights in Lassen Volcanic NP and nearby? Thanks for your help!
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Jul 22nd, 2017, 07:45 AM
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Sara, my son will not be staying there until late next week-end of July. Why don't you give them a call and ask? I've always driven south to north through the park and done more of the lower park hikes, so I'm more partial to the south. That being said, there is very limited food choices.

Staying at Grace Lake, you have more and better dining choices in Shingletown and you are closer to Burney. You could also get breakfast items and lunch items since you have a kitchenette.

On our first trip staying in Mineral, we actually drove twice through the park just to eat in Shingletown. Going back to the area 10 years later, not much had changed dining wise or overnight places!

If you are booking 3 nights, I'd probably stay at Grace Lake.
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Jul 22nd, 2017, 08:14 AM
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Allow me to throw in my two cents on accommodations in the area.
I'm only familiar with the areas near the southern entrances to Lassen Park, though.
The mill creek resort cabins would be the closest to the southwest entrance to Lassen Park. They would be very rustic but most likely have en suite bathrooms- call to confirm.
There is a lovely new resort called the Highlands Ranch Resort with deluxe accommodations. It's pretty much booked and I'm not sure of your budget but it's worth looking into. There is a lovely restaurant there that I'd plan a meal at even if you don't stay there.
Further along highway 89 is the St. Bernard lodge. We drive by it all the time but I can't say any more about it having never stopped there. Not much further is the town of Chester. There is a Best Western in Chester. Chester sits at the northern end of Lake Almanor. Kayaking at lake Almanor would be a good option.
From Chester you can take the road that leads to the Warner Valley. This road heads into Lassen Park at the southeast end. The road turns into a gravel road and ends at Drakesbad. It is a resort inside Lassen Park. Google it to see possible available accommodations. There are hikes with geo thermal interest leaving from Drakesbad. It's an absolutely lovely area. Note though that the road ends there so there is no driving on further into the park from that end.
The other main southwest entrance, near Mineral, has the visitors center and hikes that leave from there too. By the end of August the road through the park will be open-incredibly they are still removing snow from the road on this date- once the road is open you could drive through to manzanita lake and on to Burney Falls.
Just my opinion but I think you would find plenty to do for two days staying in the south end of Lassen Park.
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Jul 22nd, 2017, 09:06 AM
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Wow! That is incredible information about the road. My son will be there later in the week and I will tell him about the possible/probably road closure. Good thing his next destination is not that far!
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Jul 22nd, 2017, 10:46 AM
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Yes, have your son check the Lassen website for the latest info! They should be getting the road open any day now. But this tells me that the upper trails will still have snow on them. Plenty of lower trails around though; I love going up there midsummer and seeing wildflowers blooming as if it is springtime!
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Jul 23rd, 2017, 07:11 PM
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Gailscout, according to the Lassen NP web site, the highway will open to through traffic on July 27 - I hope that doesn't negatively affect you son's plans.

I'm still dithering whether to spend all three nights at Grace Lake Resort, or in Mineral or nearby (Lassen Mineral Lodge looks OK, and they have a restaurant that's open from breakfast through dinner). Saint Bernard Lodge does not have private bathrooms in the rooms, kind of a deal breaker for us. Another option is to spend two nights in Mineral, then one other night at Grace Lake Resort to see things on the north side of the park - Manzanita Lake, Burney Falls, Subway Caves, anything else? It really doesn't appear that there are many restaurants in Shingletown open for dinner besides a pizza place; apparently several restaurants there have closed in recent years. Any opinions as to whether it's worth the hassle of moving to another place for one night (really hard to judge the distances/driving times involved), and, if so, should we stay at Grace Lake our first night, or our last? Thanks so much for the input, I'm really looking forward to this trip.
Sara is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2017, 07:15 PM
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Also, I looked at Highlands Ranch Resort, and while it looks wonderful, the prices are higher than what we've budgeted for this trip. Still considering Mill Creek Resort, too.
Sara is offline  
Jul 24th, 2017, 08:46 AM
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Sara, he'll be arriving on that day and checking into St Bernard Lodge. I'll find out where they ate when I see them again on August 5th! I see that several places in Shingletown have closed. The bakery had the best bearclaws!

Shasta Lake has a nice tour of their dam. If you decide to split your stay, I'd do Grace Lake last, as you can then go on to tour Burney Falls or go back to Hwy 5/Redding.
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Aug 9th, 2017, 08:57 AM
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Sara, our son did not eat anywhere near Lassen or in Lassen; I think your best bets would be Chester, Mineral, or Highlands Ranch Resort. They had food with them and had a big breakfast at St Bernard Lodge, which they liked a lot, but had issues with the owner, who seamed very stressed.
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Aug 13th, 2017, 01:29 PM
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Thanks for following up, gailscout. I decided that it wasn't worth the hassle of moving to different lodging for our third night, so I've booked three nights at Lassen Mineral Lodge in Mineral. They have a restaurant and a store where we can pick up picnic supplies. We may do a bit more driving to see the things that are north of the park (Burney Falls, Subway cave, etc.), but I think it will probably be worth it.
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