Explore the Undiscovered

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to steaming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes. Jagged peaks tell the story of its eruptive past while hot water continues to shape the land. Lassen Volcanic offers opportunities to discover the wonder and mysteries of volcanoes and hot water for visitors willing to explore the undiscovered. Read More

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From the National Park Service and Lassen Volcanic National Park, this -- is The Lavocast. I’m Ranger Greg.

There are more than 400 park units managed by the National Park Service -- 418 as of this recording -- and sixty of these carry the most venerable and widely recognized designation: that of the National Park.

But there are also national monuments, seashores, lakeshores, historic sites, recreation areas, and a whole slew of other designations; and with all of these different types of parks, you can probably imagine how it might be difficult to quickly and easily identify a particular unit within the system. To help with this, administrators and park rangers have adopted a simple naming standard that assigns each unit a unique 4-letter code.

Have you ever been to YOSE? What about ROMO or YELL? Maybe PORE, SAMO, GRCA or ZION? If you’re from the east coast, maybe you’ve been to SHEN, EVER, or INDE? These nonsense words are, of course, the 4-letter alpha codes used to identify each unit in the National Park system.

YOSE is Yosemite, ROMO - Rocky Mountain.

These four-letter alpha codes generally follow a very straightforward naming convention. If the name of the park unit is one word, the code is the first four letters. So Yellowstone becomes Y-E-L-L. If the name of the unit is two or more words, the code is the first two letters of the first word, and the first two letters of the second word. So Grand Canyon becomes G-R-C-A and Santa Monica Mountains becomes S-A-M-O.

There are some exceptions though. For example, the alpha code for Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico, following the naming convention, would be C-A-C-A or CACA. Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona and Nevada faces a similar issue: Lake Mead’s alpha code would be L-A-M-E or LAME.

In order to avoid referring to our shared heritage and the natural and scenic wonders contained therein as CACA and LAME, these park units have special alpha codes. Carlsbad Caverns is C-A-V-E, CAVE, and Lake Mead is, fittingly, L-A-K-E, LAKE.

Here at Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California, where plants and animals from the Cascade range of mountains, the Basin and Range province, and the Sierra Nevada mountains all come together to create an incredible diversity of life, we are L-A-V-O, LAVO, and this, is The Lavocast. Thanks for listening to Episode Zero: Alpha Codes.

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3 minutes, 4 seconds

Did you know that every unit in the National Park system has a unique four-letter acronym called an "alpha code?" Listen to Episode 0 of this new podcast to learn how you can figure out the code for your favorite park!

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Last updated: December 6, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 100
Mineral, CA 96063


(530) 595-4480

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