Looking to get away from it all without going far? Try Lassen National Park in Northern California. Lassen is one of the smallest Parks (only 165 square miles) in the National Park system, and gets far fewer (only about 400,000 a year) visitors than the other parks. But despite this, or maybe because of this, Lassen National Park Camping is excellent!
Lassen National Park Camping
There are 8 campgrounds in the park, and 150 miles of hiking trails. You can hike a Volcano, or a cinder cone. There is a lot of geothermal activity, from stinky Sulphur Works, to bubbling mudpits, and one of my favorites, hike to Bumpass Hell. The park has lakes, big and small, filled with clear snow run off. Beautiful meadows filled with wildflowers, forests, rivers, steams and ponds. And for those who want to go all out, Drakesbad Lodge is well off the beaten path, and is perfect for those who want to stay in cabins, go horseback riding and have a grown-up camp experience.
The area around Lassen National Park is amazing as well. Lake Almanor is a water playground for boaters and water skiers. Butt Reservoir has camping along a the beautiful lake surrounded by trees. North of Lassen you’ll find Burney Falls, an amazing waterfall.
The whole area is perfect for a camping trip, lots to do and see for the whole family.
Campgrounds in Lassen National Park
All campgrounds have some first-come-first-served sites, but they fill early. Reservations are available at the Summit Lake, Manzanita Lake and Butte Lake Campgrounds, check with http://www.recreation.gov/.
There are no RV hook-ups in the park, but there are RV campsites. Generator use may be limited to certain hours.
Manzanita Lake Campground– There are 179 sites in this campground, and has more amenities than any other campground in the park. It has flush toilets, a boat launch, laundry and even a general store. There are separate loops for tents and RVs. It is located near the northwestern entrance of the park.
Juniper Lake Campground 13 miles from the town of Chester (and the last 6 miles are pretty rough). There are 18 primitive sites, with no water, and only vault toilets. The lake is nice for swimming.
Summit Lake North and South Campgrounds Located in the center of the park, it has RV and tent sites, a boat launch and flush toilets. The opening can be delayed by snow.
Butte Lake Campground This campground is found 6 miles down a dirt road in the northeastern part of the park. You can make reservations… and it might be a good idea. There is a boat launch, and the campground is walking distance from the lake. There are group sites, and RV sites. This is a great campground if you plan to hike the Cinder Cone.
Southwest Walk-in Campground Found in the southwestern section of the park right next to the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center, this walk-in campgound has only 20 sites. There are flush and vault toilets. You can take a nice hike up the Mill Creek Falls trail.. a 3 mile hike to a nice waterfall.
Warner Valley Campground There are only 18 campsites in this campground , and no reservations are taken. You will find it 17 miles down a rough road near Drakesbad… don’t even think about taking a bus or large RV down this road. The campground overlooks Hot Springs Creek, and is a great jumping off spot for hikes to Devils Kitchen, Boiling Springs Lake and Terminal Geyser.
Crags Campground Just off the mail road near Manzanita Lake. It is a primitive campground with just a picnic table, a fire ring, and vault toilets. There are 45 beautiful campsites.
Lost Creek Group Campground Reservations only. 4 miles south of Manzanita Lake on National Park Road. There are 7 sites that can hold 10 to 25 people.
I love Butt Reservoir… when I was I kid we laughed our head off at the name…. Hee hee. Now I just see it for what it is. A lovely lake, surrounded by trees, far away from crowds and nuttiness.
You will often find large downed trees or logs on the shore… leftovers from the logging industry. They make lovely places to sit, sun yourself, fool around or play on. We’d even float them out into the water as boats.
When I was younger we would go for day trips. The reservoir was great for swimming and boating. Then, as an adult, I began overnight camping on the lake. The sites are all first come first served, and if you are lucky, you can be right on the water.
Be warned… sunset is mosquito time… bring your bug spray and citronella candles. It’s just for a few minutes…. then they go away.
Ponderosa Flat Campground North end of East Shore… 63 sites, RV’s and tents, boat ramp, vault toilets, piped water.
Cool Springs Campground On the East side of the Reservoir…25 sites, 5 walk-in sites, tents and RV’s, vault toilets, piped water, boat ramp.
Yellow Creek Off Highway 89…11 sites, tents and RV’s, vault toilets, piped water.
Burney Falls… I remember being so surprised the first time I saw them. Like most Falls… you hear them before you see them. They are in a canyon, and there are hiking trails all around. Despite the heat of the day, it felt cool by the water. Hiking there is not strenuous, and the kids can manage it too.
The campground is in the pines near the creek. There are 128 campsites, and they fill up fast so make reservations in advance www.reserveamerica.com. RV’s are ok, but there are no hook ups, there is a dump station.
Lake Almanor Camping
Lake Almanor has 3 campgrounds.
Campground 2 and 3 have beach front. Perfect. There are 131 sites, and you can call for reservations. 916-385-5164
There are boat launches, and loads of people jet ski or water ski on Lake Almanor. There is a small resort village with snack foods, sodas and beer… basically, the basics
I enjoyed camping here with the kids. We took long walks along the water, and did a little fishing… My kids loved camping there because we caught a snake (want to impress your kids? catch a snake barehanded… not bad for a suburban mom) After naming it Sally, we set it free.
The city (well town) of Chester is close by should you decide it’s time to restock or see civilization.
For you there is the Drakesbad Guest Ranch. A ranch inside Lassen Volcanic National Park with cabin accommodations. There are full or half baths in every cabin.
All meals are included in the price.
You can horseback ride, play ping pong, swim, hike, participate in activities, or find a place to just sit and do nothing in a beautiful setting.