Hiking Bumpass Hell: Lassen Volcanic National Park

When exploring Lassen Volcanic National Park and hiking Lassen Peak we decided to also hike Bumpass Hell, one of the parks most well known attractions. Bumpass hell is named after Kendall Vanhook Bumpass who stumbled on this area in the late 1800’s while he was hiking. It is named Bumpass Hell because he actually fell in one of the steam geysers and ended up losing a leg. The area itself is a geothermal area that has many steam vents that continuously pour out steam and sulfur gases from the molten lava that is running 5 miles under this area and the forest ranger there told us some of the water is so acidic it is like stomach acid. Read on for photos and a recap on the hike.

The hike to this area is 3 miles round trip and should be relatively easy for most people. The Bumpass Hell area is for sure something that should be exprienced in the park, even if you have to smell the gross sulfur, the sites are unlike anything you probably ever seen. To start the journey you set out on a trail that goes along the edge of a mountain. Through the way there are beautiful vista points that overlook the forest and streams below.

When you reach the Bumpass Hell area after about one and a half miles you’re immediately greeted with the strange colors, load noises coming from big boiler and a overwhelming smell of sulfur. The terrain it self is almost other worldly as there is a lot of color on the ground that I have never really seen. There are a lot of orange, red and bluish rocks all over due to the sulfur mixing with the terrain and the creek that comes off bumpass hell is made of completely grey water.

There are also many different mud pots that boil constantly from the heat that is coming up from the area. You wont have to walk along the brittle ground though as there is a boardwalk installed so you can walk around and see all of the pools, geysers and steam vents. Big boiler, the main steam geyser in Bumpass Hell has water that reaches 320 degrees Fahrenheit.

After about 30 minutes walking around the boardwalk and taking in the sights we headed back to higher ground to escape the smell of the sulfur and made our way out of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Bumpass Hell is one of those places that really has to be seen to be beleived. When I orginally saw the pictures I wasn’t sure what to expect and it exceeded my expectations. You can check out a video I shot with my phone below to get more of a feel for Bumpass Hell.

I would recommend checking out this area as it is an easy walk and it is something that you never really get a chance to see.  I would love to see it again with all of the snow on it that is there most of the year.

Check out the rest of the pictures and leave me a comment.

Get Directions by clicking the red dot below

Center map

Interested in supporting this blog?

This blog is simply a hobby and labor of love for me. If you have enjoyed the posts consider sharing it with your friends. I want as many people as possible to explore this state and you can help by letting them know about all of the great spots!

About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • What do you say about visiting this place during the summer?

    • It is a really beautiful place to visit in the summer. The elevation helps the weather to be cooler, but make sure to bring lots of water and sun screen if as you will need them on either of the hikes I wrote about in Lassen!

      • Thanks josh! i’m doing a road trip up north and i think this would be a great national park to visit during the summer as other places down here in SoCal are a little hot. What do you think about visiting mojave and joshua tree during the summer?

        • Thanks for comment! I was up there at the end of summer when I wrote this post and it was great. As for Joshua Tree and Mojave, they are both doable but bring tons of water and make sure the AC works in your car as you will have a much more enjoyable time if you have that. These places can get crazy hot in the summer time!

          • Thanks for the reply josh! I’m going up thre in August. Just wondering about if you have a campground in lassen that hu recommend, I’m thinking about camping in Juniper lake and drive to lassen peak for the day hike. Just wondering if you have any opinion about that.

            The reason why I wanna camp in juniper is because it seems really pretty and less crowded.

          • Yea I always heard that Juniper lake is a beautiful place to stay. I haven’t stayed myself but I’m sure it would be nice. Also make sure you check if Lassen Peak is open to hike the day you go. When I went they only had 3 weekends out of the year that they actually let people hike it so you dont want to drive up there and not be able to do it!

  • Snook

    Just wanna let you know that i went to lassen this past week. Thanks for helping me discover this amazing place. I did cinder cone, bumpass, brokeoff, and lassen. So lucky that they opened up lassen the night we were there at 5pm so I got to hike it during sunset and saw the most incredible moon rise of my life! Thanks again. Your blog is by far my favorite california travel blog.

  • St Bernard Lodge

    Josh, the park has changed the story on Bumpass, they have no recorded record of him actually losing his leg. Just a little extra info. Great pictures.

    • Thanks for the update and for letting me know about the change, I always thought that story was interesting but I guess it goes the way of many other urban legends.

  • Naomi True

    Hi Josh,
    I definitely want to check out Bumpass Hell after reading your post. Do you recommend any campsites near there?

    • Thanks for the comment. Lassen National Park has a few campsites in it, I would recommend checking out one of those as it lets you stay in the park and do some of the other awesome hikes.