Winter in Lassen National Park

According to the National Park Peak Experiences publication, Lassen National park was first created after  the historic eruptions of 1915 and the efforts of Congressman John E. Raker to draw attention to the area and garner support for the park idea on a national level.   The park has continued to expand the over the years to include
winter favorites like Manzanita Lake and Sulphur Works with its popular ski area.

Shoe shoeing on Manzanita Lake at Mt. Lassen National ParkWinter activities in the park include snowshoeing, sledding, winter backpacking, cross country sking, snowboarding and nordic sking.  One of the most popular ways of enjoying the park in winter is snowshoeing and the park offers ranger-led snowshoe walks on Saturdays and Sundays, January through early April.  The snowshoes are provided and the walks start at 1:30 pm and usually last about 2 hours.  The best part about the walks is that they are free although the park ranger will ask for a suggested $1 donation for snowshoe maintenance.   The ranger will demonstrate how to put on the snowshoes and how to move around in them before the walk begins.  The park recommends coming prepared with snow boots, warm layers, water, lunch and/or snacks.

For those who have their own shoe shoes or are more familiar with walking on snow, several trails can be found at both the north and south entrances. The trails range from beginning to advanced levels and many of them have spectactular views.  The trail we tried this visit was the beautiful Manzanita Lake Snowshoe Loop at the north entrance.  This was a beginner trail with a distance of 1.5 mile round trip, although it definitely felt like it was longer.  Although the park states that the average time to complete the loop is 1.5 hours, you can definitely spend a lot longer exploring all the nooks and crannies and enjoying the wildlife and beautiful views of Lassen Peak and Chaos Crags.

Lassen National Park in Winter - Manzanita Lake
Manzanita Lake in the winter at Lassen National Volcanic Park

When planning your winter visit it’s important to note that Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway usually closes by mid-November for the winter season due to snow. Butte Lake, Warner Valley, and Juniper Lake roads close to vehicle traffic for the season due to snow around late October and usually reopen in late June or early July. Plowing on the park highway usually begins in early April and continues through late June.  For more details on winter activities in Lassen Nation and trail and road conditions, view the Lassen National Volcanic Park Peak Experiences Winter Newsletter or visit the Lassen National Volcanic Park Website.

Some National Parks Facts

  • Visitors to Lassen in 2014 – 432,977
  • Visitors to Yosemite in 2014 – 3,882,642
  • Total National Park Visitors in 2014 –  292, 800,082

The 10 Most Visited National Parks (2014)

  1. Great Smoky Mountains NP 10,099,276
  2. Grand Canyon NP 4,756,771
  3. Yosemite NP 3,882,642
  4. Yellowstone NP 3,513,484
  5. Rocky Mountain NP 3,434,751
  6. Olympic NP 3,243,872
  7. Zion NP 3,189,696
  8. Grand Teton NP 2,791,392
  9. Acadia NP 2,563,129
  10. Glacier NP 2,338,528

The 10 Most Visited Places of the National Park System (2014)

  1. Golden Gate National Recreation Area 15,004,420
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway 13,941,749
  3. Great Smoky Mountains National Park 10,099,276
  4. George Washington Memorial Parkway 7,472,150
  5. Lincoln Memorial 7,139,072
  6.  Lake Mead National Recreation Area 6,942,873
  7. Gateway National Recreation Area 6,021,713
  8. Natchez Trace Parkway 5,846,474
  9. Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park 5,066,219
  10. Grand Canyon National Park

Source – The National Park Service Website