Lassen road finally opens at the latest date on record

A view of Mount Lassen from the road leading from the southwest entrance
A view of Mount Lassen from the road leading from the southwest entrance Lassen Volcanic National Park

Cars dwarfed by 10-foot snowbanks crept along Highway 89 through Lassen Volcanic National Park on Thursday as park officials opened the 30-mile road to through traffic for the first time since late fall.

The opening was the latest in park records dating back to 1931, said Park Superintendent Jim Richardson.

“After four years of drought the park finally has a long winter season of great skiing and a snowpack that has persisted into summer,” he said.

Fallen trees and rockslides combined with snow levels reaching 40 feet to push the road opening to late July. The latest previous road opening was on July 21, 1995.

Plowing the snow was completed just in time for Sunday’s Reach the Peak, a “hikathon” raising funds for the Lassen Park Foundation. Hikers will start up Lassen Peak at 8 a.m., leaving in groups every 30 minutes, said Karen Haner, a park public information officer.

The foundation contributed $500,000 toward relocating the trail up the 10,463-foot peak, Haner said. It also raised funds for Volcanic Adventure Camp, a group campground designed for underserved youths from throughout California and beyond.

The trail to Bumpass Hell is one of several still closed due to snow, Richardson said. The North Summit Lake Campground is scheduled to open on Friday and the Butte Lake Campground will be open to dry camping only for the remainder of the season.

For the status of other trails and campgrounds, check the park website.