When it comes to National Parks with steamy geothermal features, people usually think of Yellowstone National Park-- but it's certainly not the only park that's hot to trot. There's also California's Lassen Volcanic National Park.
It's one of the only places in the world that has all four kinds of volcano, so you know a park that's packing that much heat is definitely gonna have some cool sights to see. Here are some of the park's best other-wordly landscapes to explore!
This is the largest area of hydrothermal activity in the entire park, clocking in at around 16 acres. You'll mostly get awesome views of the Martian landscape, with its steaming pools and unusually-hued mud and dirt, but the area also features one of the world's hottest fumerols, which they affectionately call "Big Boiler", since it's been known to reach temperatures of up to 322 degrees Fahrenheit. While you're hiking here, keep in mind that it was named for a miner who had a claim to the area, and who fell through a thin crust of mud and into one of the pools, severely burning his leg, which had to be amputated-- so stay on the boardwalk!
There's no trail here, but you can view the steam vents, boiling pools, and mudpots from the road-- it's especially cool if you bring along binoculars! Also be on the lookout for Fart Gulch, a chalky colored hillside-- maybe it's a good thing to just view the place from the road, since the hydrogen sulfide gas is said to smell like rotten eggs or... well, you get the idea.
This trail will get you a little closer to the bubbling mudpots and steaming pools. It's also right off the main road, so if you're short on time but still want to check out some hot and heavy geothermal weirdness, this is your best bet. The main attraction here is a 5-foot mudpot-- it's all that remains of an extinct volcano known as Mount Tehama. The mudpot is also home to some really interesting bacteria that, according to Sierra Nevada Geotourism, are being studied for their potential to cure diseases. Definitely be cautious here-- this is an area known for looking deceptively safe, but stepping off the boardwalk could mean falling into boiling mud.
The highlight of this trail, which takes you past lovely lakes, footbridges, and forests, is a boiling cauldron of awesomeness, complete with hissing steam vents, gloppy mudpots and bubbling springs. While there are hot springs around here, definitely don't strip down and go for a soak-- the water is so acidic that it's eaten holes into the bedrock.
There are no true geysers in the park, but in the middle of the creek, you'll find a geyser-like spurt of water, surrounded by clouds of steam, caused by the cool creek flowing overtop of a steam vent-- it's endlessly fascinating to watch. Plus, you don't have to wait around for it to go off, and the hike there winds through the peaceful forests and past other mysterious-looking geothermal features!
Get out there and explore Lassen Volcanic National Park in your RV!