The massive task of plowing the roads for summer at Lassen Volcanic National Park began early this year (March 31) and although there were some setbacks in the month of April and May, the operations are already significantly ahead of schedule.
The park announced that the road to Butte Lake is now open to the public and although much of the park highway is still closed to through traffic, much of it is already plowed.
The snow removal operations saw another setback on May 5th as a large rock fall covered the entire width of the road in the Emerald Lake area. Rock falls are not uncommon for this time of the year. As snow melts on steep slopes in the park, rock loosens and falls to the road. In this particular case, no equipment or people were damaged in the incident.
Here is a current map of the road as of May 5th:
Much of the park is already beginning to open for spring and summer activities. Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center is open to the public 9 am – 5 pm, 7 days a week, and Suphur Works Hydrothermal Area has reopened as well.
The only part of the highway left to plow is between Bumpass Hell and Kings Creek, although much of the road is still not open to the public. Officials must first make sure the highway is completely safe before opening in order to avoid the danger of springtime incidents, like the rock fall near Emerald Lake.
With this sort of process being made in the park, we can expect to see a full road opening in late-May, barring any setbacks. Here is the plowing log from Lassen officials:
2018 Road Clearing Operator Log
Log updates are posted when reports are received from operators in the field. The latest update may not reflect the current status. The road crew works Monday through Thursday, 10 hours per day.
March 31 – Snow clearing began at Loomis Plaza, moving toward Devastated Area. Plows reached Hot Rock and are beginning to encounter some trees in the road.
April 7 – Snow has been cleared to the Devastated Area, about 10 miles form the Loomis Plaza. Snow clearing progress has moved steadily to the Devastated Area due to the low snow levels, only about 2 feet at the Devastated Area. We will proceed with clearing operations from the southwest entrance on Monday April 9.
April 14 – Road clearing operations began ahead of schedule on the south side of the park this week this week. Road crews have plowed roughly 3 miles of park highway from the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center in the southwest corner of the park. On the north side of the park, crews continue to work on clearing the parking area and bathrooms at the Devastated Area.
April 21 – Operations were slowed this week due to a shortage of staff. Another half-mile of road has been cleared bringing the crew to the upper switchback before Emerald Sidehill. We are about 5 miles in from the Visitior Center. Operations will resume on Monday.
Thanks to help from CalTrans, about a foot of snow from Monday’s storm was removed from the road. The road opened to the Devastated Area from the northwest entrance at Manzanita Lake!
April 28 – While CalTrans continues to move along steadily from the north, our road crew has made progress from the south to the Bumpass Hell Parking area, about another mile from last week. Clearing opeartions will resume on Tuesday as will clearing on the road into Juniper Lake.
May 5 – The big event this week was a large rock fall, covering the entrie width of the road in the Emerald Lake Area. Fortunately, no equipment or people were harmed. As snow melts exposing bare ground, freeze and thaw cycles break rock loose along along steep slopes. Rockfall this time of the year is not uncommon. Use extreme caution when traveling the road by vehicle, or on foot.
Otherwise, clearing progressed to the Kings Creek Area from the north. From the south, clearing progressed anoher half-mile to Lake Helen.