About the Site
Lassen Volcanic National Park (5)  


Park History

Lassen Peak

Lassen Peak Summit

Chaos Crags

Manzanita Lake



Park Mountains

Sulphur Works

Volcanic Remnants

Southwest Area

Park Road


Plants & Animals


Manzanita Lake

On of the most beautiful features of Lassen Volcanic National Park is Manzanita Lake, found in the extreme northwest portion of the park. Many of the most beautiful photographs of Lassen Peak which are commonly seen, dating back to some taken by Benjamin Loomis, are taken from the northwest shore of the lake, such as the one shown below.

Manzanita Lake is surrounded by dense forests of willow, mountain alder, Jeffrey pine, white fir, and lodgepole pine. It is named for the shrub known as manzanita which grows in the area. The lake also contains the only fish native to the park, the rainbow trout, which spawns in Manzanita Creek. At one time Manzanita Lake, as well as other lakes in the park, were stocked with trout. This practice was discontinued by the National Park Service in the mid-1970's. For many years Manzanita Lake has provided exceptional fly fishing on a catch and release basis, managed now as a natural fishery, in addition to other recreational opportunities.

Manzanita Lake is found at an altitude of 5847 feet and is about a half mile long. The north shore of the lake lies at the southern edge of the Chaos Jumbles. Manzanita Lake itself was formed by volcanic debris which dammed Manzanita Creek, although it also obtains some water from groundwater seeping into it. The lake level was also raised slightly by a small earthfill dam built in 1911 by the California Power Company, although using the lake for power generation did not prove feasible. The 1915 eruptions of Lassen Peak resulted in the placement of tons of silt and ash into the lake and a significant reduction in the size and depth of Manzanita Lake. In fact, the resulting murkiness of the lake lasted for 2 or 3 years. The mudflows not only muddied the waters but also killed fish in the lake.

The picture below shows the lake from its eastern shore. In earlier times this area hosted a lodge, known as Manzanita Lake Lodge, first opened in 1934, and cabins. However, in 1974 facilities in the Manzanita Lake area were closed after a report which indicated that a danger existed from another avalanche such as the one which created Chaos Jumbles. In 1981, day use of area was again authorized. Currently, there is a campground, picnic area, general store, and eating facilities in the area now.

Located north of Manzanita Lake is the appealing Loomis Museum. The building features a museum and visitor center providing a great deal of information about the park. The stone construction is quite unique and interesting. It is recorded in the National Register of Historic Places.

The building was named by Benjamin Loomis, who along with his wife built the building and named it after their only child, Mae. Loomis, who was born in Illinois in 1857, came to California as a child. He lived in Red Bluff and Colusa. In 1874 he arrived at Manzanita Lake. An enthusiastic photographer, his photographs of the eruptions of Lassen Peak in 1914, 1915, and 1917 were spectacular. During the volcanic activity of 1914 Loomis climbed to the summit of the peak six times. He got his first picture of the erupting volcano on June 9, 1914. On June 14, 1914, he took a spectacular series of photographs of the erupting volcano during a 20 minute interval from about 6 miles from the summit. He created the most complete photographic record of the eruption in existence. The widespread publication of his photographs, and those of others, helped focus national attention on the area.

In 1926 Loomis bought 40 acres of land in the Manzanita/Reflection Lake area and built the Mae Loomis Memorial Museum. Named after his only daughter, it was dedicated on July 4, 1927. It was intended as a memorial to his daughter and also as a location to house the photographic record of the Lassen eruptions which he had created. Loomis operated a photo and art store. He donated the museum building to the park in 1929, along with land around Manzanita Lake which he owned.

The Loomis museum fell into disuse along with other visitor facilities in the area which were closed in the mid-1970's over concern about potential risk from an avalanche from the Chaos Crags, but the building and museum were restored and reopened in 1993. The picture below was taken in 1995.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2012

  • Commercial use of the images contained in this document without express written consent is strictly prohibited.

  • Comments and other remarks can be sent via e-mail to parkvision@shannontech.com