Thing to Do

Snowplay in the Southwest Area

A landscape photo of a snow-covered hill with people playing and a building in the background.
The steep slopes behind the visitor center are popular for sledding.

NPS Photo

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.

Visitor Services

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. 


The Southwest parking area allows overnight stays in self-contained vehicles (no tents) as the only year-round camping opportunitity in the park aside from backcountry camping. There is no tent camping available in the Southwest Campground or near the Southwest parking area for 2023 season due to hazardous conditions from the Dixie Fire. Campfires are not permitted. Overnight vehicle camping must park between islands to allow for snow plowing operations. Camping fee applies to vehicle camping; please self-register for camping at the entrance station.

Winter Safety - Play it Safe 

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:

  1. Plan for winter driving conditions including ice or snow hazards. Check with Cal-Trans for current highway conditions.
  2. Be prepared for winter conditions at high elevation in a remote area.
  3. Choose a route that is appropriate for your skill level and ability.
  4. Practice avalanche safety if traveling beyond established routes or in steep terrain.

Winter Etiquette

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.
Snow Play

Pets are limited to the paved parking area. Pets are not permitted on snow-covered routes including in the snowplay area and on the snow-covered park highway. Learn more about visiting the park with a pet.

Additional pet regulations:

  • Pets must be on a leash less than six feet long at all times.
  • Pets can be left unattended in vehicles. However, if hazardous conditions exist, such as hot weather, owners can be cited for endangering an animal.
  • Pets can not be left unattended AND tied to an object, except in designated areas or under conditions which may be established by the superintendent.
  • Please clean up after your pet and take responsibility for its behavior.

An entrance fee or valid pass is required to enter Lassen Volcanic National Park. The winter vehicle entrance fee is $10 and is valid for up to 7 consecutive days between December 1 and April 15. A camping fee is required for tent and in-vehicle camping in the Southwest Area.

The Southwest Area is located on Highway 89, which becomes Lassen Volcanic National Park Highway at the park boundary. The parking is located 6 miles north of the junction of Highway 36E and 89. 

Fuel stations are limited in this remote area and there is no gas in the park November through May; we strongly advise filling up your gas tank before entering the park.

Roads to and inside the park are often icy or snow-covered during the snowy winter and spring seasons. Be prepared for winter road conditions and note that roadside services are available, but limited in this remote area.

There are no reservations for park entrance or for snowplay.

The Southwest Area usually has enough snow for snowplay between December and April. Current snow depths can be found on the current conditions webpage.  

Time of Day
Accessibility Information
The parking area is level and accessible by wheelchair. The Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and restrooms are wheelchair accessible. The remaining Southwest Area is usually snow-covered between November and April. Access is limited to oversnow travel. All non-motorized devices for oversnow travel are welcome.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Map of Southwest Area including visitor center, parking area, campground, and highway
Map of the Southwest Area in winter.

Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center webcam

This is the view looking north from the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center at Lassen Volcanic National Park. The peak to the left is Mt. Diller and Pilot Pinnacle sits to its right. On cool days, it is possible to see steam rising from the Sulphur Works hydrothermal area.

View Webcam
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4 minutes, 4 seconds

Join Ranger Amanda on an exploration of winter in the Southwest Area of Lassen Volcanic National Park. Learn what there is to do and how to come prepared for a safe and enjoyable visit.

Last updated: May 16, 2023