Wandering in Bumpass Hell


First View of Bumpass Hell © 2013 Bo Mackison

Bumpass Hell is a geothermal area that spans 16 acres in Lassen Volcanic National Park. It has various hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots accessible by a 3 mile trail. What a sight, once the thermals are in sight.

Bumpass Hell

Thermals © 2013 Bo Mackison

The area is named after Kendall Bumpass, a cowboy who lived in the Lassen area in the 1860s. One day Bumpass stumbled upon the area and he was injured when one of his legs broke through the thin thermal crust. He told his friends and townspeople about it, describing it as “hell.”

Bumpass Hell

The Reward at the End of Bumpass Hell Trail © 2013 Bo Mackison

Bumpass Hell Thermals

Wandering in Bumpass Hell © 2013 Bo Mackison

Bumpass Hell Thermals

Boardwalk through Bumpass Hell Thermals © 2013 Bo Mackison

Boardwalks wander through the thermal area, often with no side rails. it’s a bit daunting to realize that one misstep and the fall could result in severe injuries. But it does give one a clear view of the marvels of the thermals.

Thermal Creek

Kings Creek – Thermal Waters © 2013 Bo Mackison

The creek running south from the thermals is a milky white, carrying minerals and hot water.

Bumpass Hell Thermals

Bumpass Hell Thermals © 2013 Bo Mackison

Wandering in Bumpass Hell

Walk on the Wild Side © 2013 Bo Mackison


Wandering in Bumpass Hell

Bumpass Hell © 2013 Bo Mackison


Green Vegetation in Bumpass Hell © 2013 Bo Mackison

Some of the areas near the thermals are cool enough to allow vegetation to grow close to the hot springs.

The descriptions were abbreviated because, not only are the National Parks closed during the budget battles, but the National Park websites are also down.

Instead of descriptions, just enjoy the photo travelogue of Bumpass Hell Thermal Area in Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.


Bo Mackison is photographer, book-artist, collector of stories, naturalist, curator and owner of Seeded Earth Studio LLC. Enjoyed hiking the Bumpass Hell trail when I visited California in August.

About Bo Mackison

I'm a photographer, book-artist, traveler, naturalist, and creator of the Contemplative Creatives Journey, An Online Workshop and Community and Desert Wisdom Cards and Workshops. Though often not well known, I find the desert a welcoming place - a healing space. Its mysteries and gifts transformed me several years ago. Since that first encounter, I return again and again to fill my well in what most people think of as a desolate region. I'd love to share my desert discoveries and wisdom with you. Please subscribe to receive my five part mini email course The Gifts of the Desert. It's my gift to you.


  1. Looks fascinating – I’d love to see it.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      Lassen is an amazing place, one I had never heard of either til we planned a trip out of Sacramento. But what a marvelous place of volcanoes and wilderness. So worth a visit.

  2. That would be a fascinating place to see! I was unaware of it.

    • Bo Mackison says:

      It’s an amazing place to visit. I was unaware of this hidden gem of a National Park, too, until we found it on the northern California map this summer!

  3. Seems the word fascinating is the perfect word. It was the first word I thought as I was scrolling through the collection of photos. Seems like a great place to have an adventure. Nature is amazing.

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