The Southwest Area offers steep slopes and sweeping vistas just beyond the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. Vehicle access in the park is limited to the Southwest and Manzanita Lake Areas in the snowy winter and spring seasons (usually December through April). Beginning at 6,700 feet in elevation, this area receives the most snow and offers steeper slopes than those found in the Manzanita Lake Area. The parking area is located in front of the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center, which offers the only visitor services in the winter season.
Sledding is popular in the area surrounding the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center. Smaller, gentler slopes are located directly behind the visitor center. Steeper slopes are accessed via a short walk along the snow-covered park highway. Sled with caution; sledding is the number one cause of visitor injury in the winter season. Equipment rentals are not available in the park, be sure to bring your own gear.
Picnicking on the snow or in the parking area is a well-enjoyed activity on one of Lassen Volcanic's many blue-sky winter days. Self-contained barbecues are permitted in the paved parking area. Please bring a container to safely take charcoal ash home with you. Fires and firepans are not permitted in the parking area or in the oversnow campground. Please dispose of all trash by taking it with you or placing it in the bins near the visitor center entrance. Food waste is trash and includes nut shells, fruit peels, and food scraps. Animals such as the rare Sierra Nevada red fox can become sick or die from eating trash.
Snowshoe and Skiing Routes
The snow-covered park highway (no vehicle access) provides access to Sulphur Works hydrothermal area (2 miles round-trip) and other backcountry oversnow routes for snowshoers and skiers. View oversnow routes in the Southwest and Manzanita Lake Areas.
The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center is open 9 am to 5 pm Wednesday through Sunday between November 1 and April 30. The visitor center offers a 24-hour lobby with restrooms, drinking water, and a 911 telephone. Free WiFi is available inside and immediately outside the visitor center. The visitor center contains a park store, gift shop, and limited food service.
Winter camping is available only at the Southwest Campground. The oversnow tent camping area is located at the south end of the parking area. Campfires are not permitted. Tent camping is not permitted in the parking lot. Vehicle camping is permitted and must park between islands to allow for snow plowing operations. Camping fee applies to tent and vehicle camping; please self-register for camping at the entrance station.
Visiting Lassen Volcanic National Park in the winter/spring snow season involves risk. You can reduce your risk by being prepared in the following ways:
- Plan for winter driving conditions including ice or snow hazards. Check with Cal-Trans for current highway conditions.
- Be prepared for winter conditions at high elevation in a remote area.
- Choose a route that is appropriate for your skill level and ability.
- Practice avalanche safety if traveling beyond established routes or in steep terrain.
Improve everyone's safety and enjoyment by adhering to the following winter etiquette recommendations:
- Do not walk on ski tracks. Footprints and snowshoe tracks create hazards that make skiing more difficult.
- Snowshoe parallel to the ski track. Using a separate track ensures snowshoers remain clear of downhill skiers.
- Yield to faster skiers or downhill traffic. Step to the side to allow skiers traveling downhill to safely pass. In all other cases, yield to those traveling uphill, as they are working harder and have the right of way.