Northern California RV Road Trip: Lake Tahoe & Lassen Volcanic National Park

Updated: Feb 4, 2018

With Yosemite being the first stop on our Northern California RV Road Trip we weren't sure how the rest of our stops were going to compare. But we were pretty excited for the next one... South Lake Tahoe!

South Lake Tahoe

Even though we were pretty pooped out from our big hike the day before, we woke up early to get back on the road again. I always get sad leaving places, especially somewhere epic like Yosemite, but I couldn't wait to see what Lake Tahoe had to offer. After about 4 hours on the road we arrived at our next Campsite at Camp Richardson. I'll never forget how it felt driving into the area and, all of a sudden, being surrounded by shopping plazas and chain stores. Oh man the opportunities! You mean we didn't have to rely on the camp store in case we needed something last minute?! Between being in Yosemite for a few days and driving through the boonies to get there it felt familiar. It felt like home.

We planned on Lake Tahoe being the "chill" spot of vacation and couldn't wait to get some water activity in. After exploring a bit we automatically fell in love with the area. We planned to only have 2 days in Lake Tahoe but we knew right away that wasn't enough. So we found the nearest cafe with WiFi and we changed our itinerary. That's the point in having an RV, right? As long as we didn't get kicked out of a parking lot we could stay anywhere.

Nevada Beach

The next day I was laying in our hammock as my boyfriend, Al, went to the cafe to use their WiFi to figure out a plan for the day. We were planning on heading over to Emerald Bay and heard there was a shuttle that could take us but didn't really know all the details. When he came back he had some surprising news. He ended up running into our camp neighbor who offered us a ride on his sailboat to Emerald Bay! It couldn't have been any more perfect. We really wanted to rent a boat or jet skis but they were looking pretty expensive so we passed on it. We couldn't have had a better opportunity.

Man did we have a great time that day. Between exploring Lake Tahoe by boat, lots of rum runners, and Bill and Regina's crazy life stories, this day ended up even better than expected. We docked at Emerald Bay so we could check out Vikingshom, a castle located right on the beach, as well as the island to check out the views. We ended our day eating dinner together and sharing more stories with our new friends. And man do I have some stories to add to that list now! :)

We had to checkout of our campsite the next day and decided to head over to the casinos for a change of pace. It was nice to feel a little fancy walking through the casinos but also a bit weird after being in the woods all week. But everyone can use a little break once in a while. We ended up staying the night in a nearby Walmart parking lot since we change our itinerary and didn't have a campsite booked. I mean, when you have an RV you have to stay in a Walmart parking lot at least once!

The next day we started the trek again; this time to Lassen Volcanic National Park. This was the same day that the Solar Eclipse was happening. I was so excited to be on the west coast for it since we were suppose to be able to see it better there but we were a little late to the game with buying the special glasses and couldn't find them anywhere! We decided to stop at a rest stop on the way to see if we could record it with the gopro (which didn't do anything). Luckily there were others who had the same idea and they let us use their glasses to see the eclipse. Pretty cool being able to say that I was able to see it. Then, after about 4 hours we made it to Lassen!

Lassen Volcanic National Park

One of the best things about this road trip was that each and every stop had something special about it. They were different from each other in their own ways, including Lassen Volcanic National Park. Lassen wasn't your typical park because of it's geysers, mountain lakes, meadows of wildflowers, and volcanoes! I couldn't wait to experience it because, from the pictures I saw, it looked amazing with the contrast of the sand and the pine trees. Our plan was to do the Bumpass Hell hike because it's the largest hydrothermal area in the park but, surprisingly, the trail was closed because of hazardous winter conditions. We were there in August! How are there still hazardous winter conditions? Between all the snow they got in the past season and the high elevation they still had snow. However, we found a work around by using another trail to hike into it. To be honest, I'm pretty sure this trail is better than the one we would have done so I'm happy this was the case.

This hike is definitely on my list as one of my favorites as well. I love hikes where you experience different terrain and views throughout the whole thing. It's like doing a bunch of hikes in one and this was that kind of hike. We passed by lakes, through massive trees, across meadows full of wildflowers (I've never seen so many wildflowers in my life!), along the ridgeline, and then finally to Bumpass Hell.

Hiking in Lassen Volcanic National Park

As mentioned in my Yosemite blog, the first thing I like to do when I get to the end or the summit is to pick my lunch spot. However, having your endpoint at a hydrothermal area was not the best lunch spot. Try smelling rotten eggs the whole time you're trying to eat lunch. But man was it still cool to see! Definitely the first time I've ever experienced something like this. There's nothing like doing a hike that opens your eyes to something new and different. Check it out for yourself!

Bumpass Hell, Lassen Volcanic National Park

It doesn't end there. Typically when reminiscing about a hike you only think about the way to the endpoint or the summit and block out the dreaded trip back. However, this trip will forever stand out in our minds. We were able 2/3 of the way back to the car and all of a sudden we noticed dark clouds coming through. How's that possible? This was one of the sunniest, hottest days so far. We were sweating on the way up! Then the big, freezing cold drops of rain started going down our backs. Ahhh crap! So we started walking faster. Then those drops multiplied.... and started coming down harder. We stopped at the lake because Al wanted to try to get a cool video of the drops hitting the water and after a few seconds of recording he soon noticed that it wasn't rain anymore but was hail. That's the moment when you try to figure out if it's worth running back or trying to find coverage until it passes. We went for running. Man did that hail hurt! I remember yelling as if it would make it stop as Al was laughing because he thought the situation was hilarious. You can't help but let crazy thoughts in your head though. What if it only gets worse? Is it possible to even hide from it? Luckily it didn't get to this point. Wouldn't it be funny if it stopped once we got back to the RV? Oh, well it did. We were completely fine in the end and it makes a great story now. That's mountain weather for you! You never know what's going to happen... especially with high elevation.

That's when the RV came in handy once again since we were able to go back and put on dry clothes right away and cook a hot meal right on the side of the road.

That wraps up Lake Tahoe and Lassen! Stay tuned to find out what our next adventure was on our Northern California RV Road Trip.

#RV #roadtrip #bucketlist #NorthernCalifornia #California #LakeTahoe #SouthLakeTahoe #LassenVolcanicNationalPark #hiking #adventure


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