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Lassen Volcanic National Park amazingviews_stop6_lassenvolcanicnationalpark_rf_837731738_0
Peter Hagenouw/Getty Images

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Steaming sulphur vents, splattering mud pots, boiling springs—these lively features at Lassen Volcanic National Park prove that our planet is a living entity. Start at the outstanding Kohm Ya-mah-nee Visitor Center, then head out to explore some of the park’s remarkable and safely accessible features, such as the geothermal site Bumpass Hell (open seasonally, check website for details). An easy, well-marked trail travels past roaring fumaroles and hissing vents (3 miles round-trip and worth the effort). Along the way, a short spur trail leads to a stunning panorama of peaks—actually the remnants of a massive volcano called Mount Tehama, which exploded some 500,000 years ago. The park’s signature volcano, Lassen Peak, last blew its top in May 1914. Today, things have settled down, and trails and overlooks let you safely see and learn about volcanic activity. In the park’s southern reaches, you’ll find two easy-to-reach waterfalls: 50-foot-high Kings Creek Falls is accessed by a downhill tromp through a verdant meadow, then a descent on a rocky staircase alongside Kings Creek. Mill Creek Falls plunges 75 feet over a moss-covered cliff (to see it, hike 1.5 miles from Southwest Campground).