What Is It?
The Painted Dunes of Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California provide picturesque, otherworldly landscapes.
Lassen Peak erupted in 1915, spreading ash up to 200 miles away. The Painted Dunes were formed when volcanic ash landed on lava flows and was oxidized, giving the resulting dunes eyepopping color. Seemingly water-colored gradients of red and orange pop out of the barren landscape.
Hiking and Vistas
The best viewing hours for the dunes is early morning and dusk. Cinder Cone Peak to the north offers some of the best views. Visitors can take a 1.2-mile, gently sloped trail to get to the popular viewing spot. For a more challenging hike, continue up the cone for four miles total, 846 feet of elevation gain and views of the dunes, Lassen Peak and the rest of the park.
Volcanic activity left more than dunes at Lassen. While driving through the park, visit the Fantastic Lava Beds, the Subway Cave lava tube or Bumpass Hell, where underground magma has created steam vents and fumaroles, and heated gasses and steam erupt through the ground.
Time to Get Out
The park is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but once it reopens, Lassen’s higher elevations and moderate summer temperatures make summers the best time to visit.
For More Information
To start planning a trip to Lassen Volcanic National Park, visit nps.gov/lavo/index.htm or call 530-595-4480.