Scientists have decided that the Cascade chain of volcanos ends at Mount Lassen. Mount Lassen is the last volcano in the chain. The Cascade chain spans more than eight hundred miles. When you count from north to south Mount Lassen is the last one. Mount Lassen is the namesake for Lassen Volcanic National Park. Lassen Volcanic National Park is like a miniature version of Yellowstone National Park.
About telling stories out of order
This post (and a few more to follow) are not in the order of our journey south. Rather I jumped to almost real-time with our last two posts which covered our cruise. Here are links to the wonderful time we had on our cruise in January: Spoiled Rotten on our Cruise and Catalina Island And Cabo San Lucas
I keep having to tell myself that I am not a current events reporter, but rather I am trying to be a storyteller. The sequence isn’t as important for storytellers. I hope this doesn’t sound like an excuse.
If you were going to fit this post about Mount Lassen into a travel sequence it would come after our story about our trip through Oregon. Here is a link to that post: Southbound In The Willamette Valley
We visited Mount Lassen and Lassen Volcanic National Park at the end of October after we exited Oregon on our trip south. This was just ahead of the torrential rain storms that pounded California. The rain and snow started pretty much right after we left.
If you are trying to figure out where we have gone in the last three months. The answer isn’t all that obvious. We completed our leg south to San Diego. This completed our leg from the northern border of Washington along southbound to the southern border of California. This was after we traversed the country starting in Key West all the way to the far corner of Washington. Here is a link to that story: The End of the Road
After that, we then took our cruise ship two thousand miles further south to Cabo San Lucas. Then rode the cruise ship back to where we left our RV. That was the easiest four thousand miles in our five-year journey. Here is another link recapping our journey: Five Years Of Full-Time RVing
Now we have turned east into the California desert. In southern California and Arizona, we will be waiting for spring and our trip to Alaska. Really we are doing much more than waiting for spring and won’t run out of stories.
The Cascade Range
There are thirteen volcanos in the Cascade Mountain Range. The furthest north volcano is Mount Baker and the furthest south volcano is Mount Lassen. Two other volcano peaks from the Cascade Range are in northern California. The famous Mount Shasta and the nearly unknown Medicine Lake Volcano.
Medicine Lake Volcano
Medicine Lake is the lake in the Medicine Lake caldera. The reason that Medicine Lake is unknown is that, unlike the other volcanos in the Cascade Range, Medicine Lake Volcano has collapsed. The entire Medicine Lake Volcano sank below the surrounding mountains. It is there, it just isn’t obvious like the other volcanos. Another tidbit about Medicine Lake Volcano is that it is the biggest of all the Cascade Range volcanos.
Mount Lassen and Lassen Volcanic National Park are at the north end of California. Even so, there are many other volcanos south of Mount Lassen. How can Mount Lassen be the last volcano in the chain?
The answer to this is that Mount Lassen is the southernmost volcano in the Cascadia Tectonic Plate subduction zone. The California coastal range and the Sierra Nevada mountain are all remnants of the same subduction zone. The difference is that south of Mount Lassen, California is gradually sliding south along the San Andreas Fault. Mount Lassen and the rest of the Cascades are being pushed eastward, inland by the Juan de Fuca plate. South of Mount Lassen, California has slipped to the south and is no longer being pushed eastward.
Mount Shasta and Red Bluff
We didn’t really visit Mount Shasta. We only have one picture, one week after we took this picture, a huge snowstorm covered the mountain with snow. We were going to stop at Shasta Lake on our way south but instead stopped at Red Bluff. When we drove by, Shasta Lake was so empty that it was depressing to look at. The lake was less than 30% full, now after the rains, and after the melt of the surrounding snowpack Lake Shasta is expected to be full by June. This year (2023) would be a good year to visit Lake Shasta.
When visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park we were staying in Red Bluff. Our stay in Red Bluff was pleasant. To get to Lassen we took Highway 36 to Mineral and then into the park from the south. Then after spending the day in the park, we returned to Red Bluff via Redding exiting the northwest corner of the park. Overall it was a long day. When we got to the park it was a cold but sunny day, but by the time we left clouds covered the entire sky. The next day it rained.
The town of Mineral was founded all because of the Mount Lassen volcano. The mineral of choice was sulfur and these pictures show that sulfur was laying on the surface to the south of Mount Lassen. Supans Sulfer Works began mining the sulfur in 1865. At the time Lassen Volcanic National Park didn’t exist and resources were there for the taking. At the south end of the park, Mineral is the only place to get some services.
Lassen Peak (Mount Lassen) dominates the entire park. It is a lava dome volcano that was last active in 1917. When I mention active, I’m referring to eruptions. If you consider active as to having boiling mud pots earthquakes and other things, then like Yellowstone it is active all the time. In 1917 the eruption wasn’t like Mount Saint Helen’s explosive eruption in 1980 but rather it spewed lava like Kilauea in Hawaii.
It would be impossible to miss the damage caused in 2021, one year before our arrival, by the Dixie Fire. The Dixie Fire was caused by a Pacific Gas and Electric wire touching a tree and became the largest fire in the history of California. The Dixie Fire started in mid-July 2021 and burned uncontested until almost November. The fire didn’t go out even until mid-winter. The October containment was one year prior to our visit. The Dixie Fire burned more than seventy thousand acres in Lassen Volcanic National Park. I tried to shoot pictures without too much fire damage. This was difficult because so much of the park was burned.
At the south end of Lassen Volcanic National Park, there is a small campground (tents only) at the south entrance. Further along, Highway 89 is another small campground that will accept some smaller RVs (we didn’t try). At the northwest corner of the park is a large campground at Manzanita Lake. The Manzanita Lake campground has sites big enough for our RV. It wasn’t our plan to stay at the park, but maybe on our next visit.
There are also commercial campgrounds near the park in Mineral at the south end and Shingletown near the north end.
I really need to start visiting places like this in the summer season. On this trip, we were trying to stay ahead of the weather and didn’t really get to enjoy Lake Shasta because of the lack of water or the Lassen Volcanic National Park for more than a day trip. I wish we would have been there longer than just a day trip.
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