They say the best things in life are free, but in a sad oversight, that didn’t include National or State Parks…
I say that because of the surprise every time I enter one of them. If not for the very entrance fee of stewardship and preserving beauty, it seems worth it at such small costs to get in. It isn’t free, though in perspective, very close.
Take for example Lassen Volcanic National Park. I’d had this trip in my pocket and just needed to find the right weekend. A three hour drive north from Sacramento and suddenly you find yourself at precipice of beauty. Rolling hills meet jagged volcanic cones and undulations that stretch to the horizon. The skeletons of volcanoes are peppered about and flora and fauna have duly taken over.
We originally wanted to visit Bumpass Hell, a smattering of boiling mud pots charged but thermal energy underground, then hike to Lassen Peak. The latter never happened, though we were no worse in spirits, as driving through the parks acreage was entertainment enough. Back to that Bumpass Hell thing.
The name certainly has a ring to it; when mentioned, most people cock their heads. “Bumpass Hell?”
If you can get past the constant egg-o-rific sulfur smell in the air, this sight is quite a tiny wonder. After shouldering past the other tourists of the day and enjoying our short hike down, we clamored back up and out.
It took a full hour to get from one end of the park and nearly all of it was interesting… windy roads, visual evidences of volcanic eruptions, fires, lakeside campgrounds, and tree-lined vistas. It was all a treat to the eyes and a wonder why I hadn’t visited sooner.
The drive to the town of Burney didn’t let up. We made it with spirits high from all the outdoors and retreated to Green Gables Motel for dinner and a night’s sleep.
The next morning was a surprise. I’d expected a nice waterfall, even a grand one, but something about experience McArthur-Burney Falls State Park in person separate it so highly from any photo I’d seen.
Layers and layers of crystalline water streamed from 129 feet above, careening into the deep pool below. We had luck and time of morning at our side, as the park was mainly empty when we arrived, around 9:30 a.m. A short loop trail evened out the experience and let’s visitors enjoy the surrounding woods behind the falls.
All told, I’d say this was a successful weekend. Is tomorrow Monday already?