The “hell” in Bumpass Hell is aptly named. Here you see geology in action—16 acres/6.5 hectares of boiling springs and mud pots, hissing steam vents, and roaring fumaroles.
Early pioneer Kendall Vanhook Bumpass was the unfortunate explorer who stumbled—literally—upon these hydrothermal features in the 1860s: the discovery included stepping into a boiling pool and burning his leg.
No such worries for visitors today. An easy, well-marked trail travels to the geothermal site (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. Your nose will tell you when you near Bumpass Hell. The rotten egg smell from naturally occurring gases is pervasive, and so is the noise—a strange ruckus created by all the belching mud pots and bubbling pools. Bumpass Hell’s boardwalk trail lets you walk safely around them, unlike poor Mr. Bumpass.