Lassen Volcanic National Park is (per the brochures) home to the largest geothermal activity west of Yellowstone in North America. Some of these spots are unfortunately in an area of the park that was heavily damaged by wildfires two years ago, and are currently closed to visitors. However, Bumpass Hell, the park's most famous geothermal area is open, accessible, and well worth a visit.
Bumpass Hell is (pardon my pun), one hell of a strange name. It's named after mountain guide K. V. Bumpass. While visiting the area in 1865, he accidentally broke through a mudpot and scalded his leg. It was amputated. I'll leave to your imagination how "Hell" got added to the name.
The area is today one of the park's largest attractions, but it's actually a fair bit of a hike to get to. Unlike many similar spots in Yellowstone, the boardwalk doesn't start right by the roadside, but instead after about a mile and a half walk across a scenic river canyon. The journey is almost as beautiful as the destination.
When I visited the geothermal areas, a few sections of trail were closed for reconstruction, but I honestly didn't mind so much. I had an excellent vantage point to smoking, gurgling mudpots, gorgeous green bacterial mats, and an array of colors.
I also met the nicest Latino family from Sacramento while I was making my way out of the area. We had some nice chats, and their young daughter was sure to wish me a nice day. They were also the most excited people I've ever seen to see a deer on the trail -- whispering to me to have my camera ready. So, here's the deer:
And that's my report on Bumpass Hell, a lovely area full of gorgeous vistas, sulphur smells, bubbling mud, and human kindness.
Thanks for reading!
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