Engaging Journeys, Engaged Journalism

Roughing It—and Not Roughing It—at Lassen

It’s often possible to land a Lassen campsite on a weekend without reservations, especially if you can send out a scout on Thursday night or Friday morning to stake your claim. Half of the park’s sites can be reserved in advance online via Recreation.gov or by calling 1-877-444-6777, along with group camping areas and stock corrals for trail riders.

If you’d like to introduce the kids to camping but don’t have much gear—and aren’t entire sure you want to buy any—consider the park’s new RentMyTent program at the Manzanita Lake campground on the park’s north side, offered in conjunction with the Coleman camping equipment company.

For an addition $67 per night (on top of the $18 per-night camping fee, two-night minimum) RentMyTenters get a roomy rented family tent, two steel-framed camp chairs, two deluxe adult-sized cots, and a battery operated Coleman lantern. The Camper’s Amenity Package adds most of the rest of what you’ll need, from cook stove and sleeping bags to, yes, a campfire S’mores kit, but at a cost of $150 per night for a family of four. You might do better scrounging.


But if roughing it is just not for you, those simple amenities are also available to anyone who rents one of the park’s new Manzanita Lake Camping Cabins—definitely a good deal if you want a lock on the door. Recently featured in Sunset magazine, Lassen’s cabins range in price from $69 per night for a one-room cabin that sleeps three (kid on the floor in a sleeping bag) to $89 for either a two-room cabin with double bed, three single beds, and a foldout futon couch or an eight-bed bunkhouse. BYO bedding, and the picnic table and fire ring outside serve as your kitchen.

For rustic accommodations with the feel of luxury, consider historic Drakesbad Guest Ranch, the only full-service accommodations actually in the park though accessible by car only from Chester, south of Lassen. There’s really nothing like it anywhere around, which explains its immense popularity. If you want to do Drakesbad, plan your trip at least a year in advance or hope for a last-minute cancellation.

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