Lassen Volcanic National Park was our first of three National Park stops on this Northern California road trip. Our choice of lodging was the Drakesbad Guest Ranch located in the Warner Valley area inside the park. While not easy to get to, once there you will find a retreat like no other. But, this place is not for everyone–no television, cell phone service or internet. If, however, you are looking for a rustic adult summer camp sort of experience, then you will love Drakesbad (children will also love it and there were some families there during our visit). We stayed in one of the stand alone cabins just a short walk from the main lodge. The cabins have no electricity but do come equipped with a gas heater, oil lamps, and battery operated lanterns (we also brought flashlights for reading and getting around the property at night). There is a small sink and toilet in each cabin but no shower–showers are located in a bathhouse by the thermal heated pool. I am quite used to camping so this was not an unfamiliar or uncomfortable experience. The bathhouse was modern and very clean containing several private showering rooms with each room providing locking doors and separate areas for showering and changing. The main lodge does have electricity and is well equipped with board games, snacks and a small gift shop. The dining room also has electricity and is the only place on the property where you can occasionally find a WiFi connection. By far my favorite and the best part of our stay at Drakesbad were the meals which are included in the cost of your stay. Surprisingly sophisticated and bordering on gourmet, the chef prepared probably the best dinners of our entire trip. There was also a pretty impressive selection of wine available (not included in the cost). If you plan to be away hiking during the day, you can put in a request for a sack lunch the evening prior (we did and it was of good quality and pretty substantial). Several hiking trails begin right on the property. We chose the Devils Kitchen trail – a 4.2 mile hike which passes through a meadow, forest, and over small footbridges and boardwalks before reaching boiling pools, steam vents and gurgling mudpots. The hike is relatively easy and well worth the 2 hours. And, while I don’t have a bad thing to say about our stay at Drakesbad, it should be noted that even though the property is technically located within Lassen Volcanic National Park, the actual park entrance and visitor center is about a 1 1/2 hour drive from the ranch which is kind of a pain. We did the drive and allowed one full day for seeing the rest of the park, hiking a few of the trails, and of course, getting my National Parks Passport stamped. If you do nothing else, you must do the 3 mile hike to Bumpass Hell–the largest hydrothermal area in the park with 16-acres of plopping mudpots, bubbling pools, and roaring hissing steam vents. If you choose to stay at Drakesbad, there is nothing like a therapeutic soak in the pool heated by the valley’s hot mineral springs after a long day of hiking in Lassen. Relaxing in the soothing warm water while looking at the breathtaking stars will be an experience you will never forget! During our stay, we were fortunate enough to have not only a star studded sky but an amazing view of the milky way as well. And, if you find yourself a bit hungry and in need of a late night snack, a bonfire complete with smores is available every evening for ranch guests.
Our little cabin in the woods at Drakesbad Guest Ranch. Reading by flashlight before bed was actually a treat!
The hike to Bumpass Hell is a must when visiting the park.