By Melissa Wynn
Photos by Ben Graham
Lassen Volcanic National Park is minutes from Chester, but late and heavy snow at the park’s higher elevations left much of the towering volcano and her natural wonders hidden behind roads still closed. But we were on an adventure. If with car you don’t succeed… fly, fly again.
We got lucky on that early June Saturday. I called Dan English at Mt. Lassen Aviation in Chester and he was free to take us on an amazing scenic flight ($60 per person) at noon. Woo Hoo! Who needs roads? The sky was crystal clear and I could see for miles as soon as we climbed above the tree tops. Lake Almanor was stunning from above, bulging its shoreline and turning the once dry spillway into a river of step down waterfalls. The higher we climbed the more I began to realize the true majesty and beauty of our Northern California home. I am a bit nervous in a small airplane but Mr. English is an exceptionally skilled pilot with a calm and comforting personality. He gave us an awesome tour of Lassen Volcanic National Park, pointing out all the major attractions like the striking kaleidoscope of color in Boiling Lake and bubbling hot mud pits of Bumpass Hell. Numerous lakes (more than I ever knew were there) of all shapes and sizes dot the forest like puddles and ponds and Dan can name them all. The peak of Mount Lassen was blanketed in snow and we circled the peak while Mr. English pointed out the scars left by the active volcano’s last eruption. The ancient Cindercone and Painted Dunes were second only to the peak in mystical wonder from that unique aerial perspective. My Lassen Aviation Scenic Tour left me in awe of my Sierra Nevada home and our friendly neighborhood volcano. I was so glad that I took the advice of my family and faced my fear of flying and joined the fun. It was an adventure I shall treasure always. I highly recommend visiting the park on foot, up close and personal, but I promise that you will witness few things in a lifetime as stunning as the Lassen Aviation experience. Reservations are highly recommended a few days in advance during the busy summer season and can be made by calling 530-258-3616 seven days a week 9 am-6 pm. Share the Adventure!