Thursday, June 26, 2014

Do You Know What a Plug Dome Volcano Is?

There's a lot of things in this world that I do know, but I did not know anything about plug domes.  Rhyolite and Dacite are two of the most common lavas that form them.  plug domes are steep small and sometimes wart appearing domes that appear because these highly viscous lavas barely melt during the event and they rise up and cool in odd positions.  Anyway, the largest one of these plug domes in the entire world sits on Lassen Peak.

Where is Lassen Peak?  It's one of those places that those of us who don't spend a lot of time in the more desert regions of northern California don't know about.  Lassen National Volcanic Park is in the northeastern part of northern California.  Basically, it's on your way to Reno, Nevada.  It's in the middle of nowhere, as a volcano park would be, so let's say it's 50 miles east of Redding, California.  You'll want to use  CA 44, CA36, and CA89 to navigate the area.

Drakesbad Guest Ranch is the lodge and cabin place to stay within the park.  There are campgrounds available as well, and there are many options in the area outside of the park.  Drakesbad is informal and a great place to just take a load off.  If you want something fancy like the lodges at the Grand Canyon, you're in the wrong place.  This is simple and pleasant.

There are a lot of great things to see at Lassen Volcanic Park, and one of my favorites are the painted dunes.  This is a unique feature at the edge of the lava fields.  The area is basically desert, and the sand mixing with the lava creates a whole pallet of colors that are amazing to see.

Photo wise I always love to take pictures of mountains upon lakes.  The reflections are normally amazing, and Lake Helen is no different.  Lassen Peak just sits up there and begs to be photographed.  It always looks a little like winter here.  This is the snowiest place in California.  That's a pretty hard title to win.  The area gets some 40 feet of snow in a season.  Some of the roads in Lassen Park don't open until some time in July.  Luckily, it's CA89 that runs by this lake, so it's cleared earlier than some.  There are other lovely lakes in the park; Juniper and Minnitaki.

Lassen Park is still active and that brings me to Bumpass Hell.  This is where all the action is.  There are mud pots bubbling, hot springs, that fabulous sulfuric landscape and some potential geyser and steam vent activity.  The boardwalk is designed for your safety however, so stay on it and don't be stupid.  The hills are alive and you should respect that.  Now, Bumpass Hell isn't going to show you an Ol' Faithful, but it is a really interesting place to explore and it does have a steam vent geyser called Terminal Geyser that's pretty darn impressive.

Another cool place to visit, no pun intended, is Boiling Springs Lake.  This is one of the larger fumaroles in the park and is quite a sight to see.  Don't bring your swim trunks though.  Most of the water filled fumaroles in the park average well over 150 degree water, and the green color of this lake is from acid.  It's a great view though and a nice hike that's not even a mile to get to.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is a great place to see volcanic action.  It's one of the older parks being designated in1916 and it was originally two separate national monuments; one was Cinder Cone and the other one was Lassen.  There are four kinds of volcanoes in the world and they are all represented in this one park.  There are Cinder Cone, Plug Cone, Shield and Composite.  That's a lot to see and experience and learn about in one park.  President Teddy Roosevelt was very impressed with the place, which is why it was one of the first of his new national parks and monuments.

There's so much to see in the park.  Sulfur Works is a landscape that you will never forget.  Terminal Geyser, the enormous steam vent.  The whole Hot Springs Valley.  The lakes.  Brokeoff Volcano,  Prospect Peak, Lassen Peak and Cinder Cone.  There's Bumpass Hell, Cold Boiling Lake, Boiling Springs Lake and Devils Kitchen.  There's a lot to see and do.

This park has five entrances and great access to all the best spots.  Now, why did I mention this spot?  Well, it's hard to say.  It's full of great stuff.  That's not it though.  I put it in here, because I just stumbled upon it.  I'd never heard of it and that's amazing.  This is one of those great places that isn't overcrowded like Yellowstone always is, but it is a lot like Yellowstone as far as features go.  This is the same great stuff for half the crowd.  Who doesn't like that?

Once in a while I just throw something out there because it belongs in the hidden gem category and this is one of those times.  I can't believe that this place hasn't been all over television and websites.  It's just a great place to spend some time with the most amazing parts of nature.

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