Indoor accommodations on Mount Lassen are few and far between. Most folks either camp or stay in Redding and day-trip up to the park. Expect little in the way of luxury or amenities if you do choose one of the indoor Lassen lodgings.
The one lonely non-camping lodging option in or even near Lassen National Park is the Drakesbad Guest Ranch (Warner Valley Rd., Chester, 530/529-1512, ext. 120, www.drakesbad.com, $155–179, summer only). This all-inclusive ranch includes three meals per day included with your room rate, though the national park fee is not included. The big brown barn of a lodge hints at the focus of this guest ranch—energetic exploration of the outdoors.
The ranch maintains its own stable, making horseback riding all throughout Lassen Volcanic National Park an easy proposition. (Horseback rides cost extra.) You’re also within easy reach of any number of trails, many of which are not accessible from the park’s main paved roads.
Bring your tackle along on a walk or a ride to take advantage of the fishing available in the local lakes and streams. Some anglers enjoy the guided fly-fishing program offered by the ranch, which teaches fly-fishing and practices catch-and-release sustainable fishing. (One-day California fishing licenses are available on-site.)
The ranch even has a wonderful pool that’s fed by the water from a local hot spring, making it healthful for soaking as well as for swimming laps.
A vacation at Drakesbad Guest Ranch is like few other retreats in all of California. The countryside really does have a wild feeling, with lots of backcountry riding and hiking trails and a general sense of solitude and serenity.
For inexpensive indoor lodgings that leave you free to explore on your own, check out Lassen Mineral Lodge (Hwy. 36E, Mineral, 530/595-4422, www.minerallodge.com, $72–85, open year-round) to the southwest of the park proper. The lodge offers small, cute, motel-style rooms with private baths and few frills. The lack of TVs and phones encourages visitors to get out and really visit Lassen National Park, just nine miles away, and its surrounding landscape.
Hiking, fishing, and park exploration are favorite pastimes of guests here. The lodge does have its own casual family restaurant, which serves three meals each day to motel guests, campers, and passersby. A full bar satisfies the thirst of adult patrons well into the evening.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition