Interested in Lassen Volcanic National Park Geology? New Book Has All the Details…

Geology of the Lassen Country book cover. Written by geologists R. Forrest Hopson and Michael A. Clynne, and published by Backcountry Press.

If you’re like me, when you’re hiking the trails or driving the roads of Lassen Volcanic National Park, you often wonder about the geology of what you see: types of volcanoes, types of lava — and just exactly how did glaciers affect the landscape?

Well, we hikers interested in geology — and especially volcanic geology — are in luck: there’s a new book out: Geology of the Lassen Country, written by professional geologists R. Forrest Hopson and Michael A. Clynne, and published by Michael Kauffmann at Backcountry Press.

Geology of the Lassen Country: My Review

First a disclaimer: I was sent a free review copy of the book by the publisher.

My overall assessment: this is an excellent, in-depth discussion of the geology and geologic history of Lassen Volcanic National Park and nearby areas in Lassen National Forest.

A Geology Textbook Focused on Lassen Volcanic National Park

The book centers on the geology of Lassen Volcanic National Park and includes detailed information about Lassen Peak, including the 1914-1917 eruptions, and also many other prominent places, including Brokeoff Volcano (Mount Tehama), Chaos Crags, Bumpass Hell, Devil’s Kitchen, Cinder Cone, Fantastic Lava Beds, Painted Dunes, and much, much more.

The book assumes you have a strong interest in geology, but it does not assume that you already have a lot of knowledge of the subject. It takes you through key concepts and processes, using key features of the park and nearby as examples.

The book details:

  • The plate tectonics of western North America and the Pacific Ocean, and how tectonic activities created the Cascades
  • Weathering and mass wasting
  • Faulting and earthquakes
  • The prominent role of glaciers in shaping the Lassen landscape
  • The geologic history of Lassen Volcanic National Park, from ancient times to the present day, with a complete chapter on the 1914-1917 eruptions of Lassen Peak
  • Key aspects of the hydrothermal features of Lassen Volcanic National Park: Bumpass Hell, Sulphur Works, Little Hot Springs Valley, Cold Boiling Lake, Devil’s Kitchen, Boiling Springs Lake, Terminal Geyser, and more
The Painted Dunes in Lassen Volcanic National Park formed when volcanic ash landed on hot basalt lava flows from Cinder Cone and then reacted with water or steam.
The Painted Dunes formed when volcanic ash landed on hot basalt lava flows from Cinder Cone and then reacted with water or steam.

And It Covers Nearby Volcanic Regions in Lassen National Forest

The book describes the geology of major Lassen National Forest landmarks like the Hat Creek Rim and the Hat Creek Valley, Subway Cave, and the chain of volcanoes in Caribou Wilderness, the region that borders the east side of the park.

Full-Color Pictures and Drawings of Volcanoes, Plus Concepts and Processes

This is a beautifully designed and produced book, and the dozens of photos and illustrations are all in color. This is especially crucial for presenting complex geological concepts.

The book is a bit on the pricey side (see below), but it’s worth the few extra bucks to have a full-color book.

Geology Road Tour Guide: Lassen Volcanic National Park Main Road, Plus Highway 89

An entire chapter covers what you can see at dozens of places along the main road through Lassen Volcanic National Park, plus Highway 89 both south and north of the park, including the Hat Creek Valley.

8 Hiking Trails Exploring the Volcanic Geology of Lassen Volcanic National Park and Lassen National Forest

Each of eight hikes includes driving directions, a topographic map, and multiple photos, along with an in-depth description of the volcanic features of the hike. These are the covered hiking trails:

  • Brokeoff Peak
  • Lassen Peak
  • Bumpass Hell
  • Devastated Area
  • Cinder Cone and Fantastic Lava Beds
  • Prospect Peak
  • Subway Cave
  • Spatter Cones Nature Trail

The first six trails are in the park, whereas the Subway Cave Trail and the Spatter Cones Nature Trail are on the east side of Highway 89 in the Hat Creek Valley.

The Bumpass Hell Trail leads to Bumpass Hell, a hydrothermal area that demonstrates the volcanic geology of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
Bumpass Hell hydrothermal activity, an integral part of Lassen Volcanic National Park’s geology.

Where to Order Geology of the Lassen Country

The 176-page book costs $24.95 for the print version and $14.95 for the ebook version ($30 for both together when you purchase from Backcountry Press).

Help support an independent publisher and buy directly from Backcountry Press. In addition, the book is for sale at some visitor centers and bookstores in the region. (If you must, you can purchase the book on Amazon.)

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