Drakesbad may be pleasant enough, I suppose, for residents of the Sacramento valley who want to escape its 100 degree heat. The place seems to draw families with small children and grandparents. Children can play ping-pong, while gramps sits on the porch and looks out at a dry meadow with a bit too much skunk cabbage.
But if you want to see the attractions of Lassen Volcanic national park—its volcanic peaks, waterfalls, and wildflowers—you will have an EIGHTY MINUTE drive to the Visitor Center. Your drive will include at least four miles of low-gear unpaved road, encounters with road construction on single lane highway 36, possibly getting stuck behind a logging truck, and if you are really lucky, you will see a local psychopath jump out of his white Ford pickup and start yelling.
I made this drive twice and also hiked in five miles—mostly uphill through generic national forest—to the highway. I’d recommend staying a little closer to the park.
I found Drakesbad a little too regimented (assigned parking spaces, assigned seats at meals). If you are assigned a dinner table with a Biden-like windbag and his family of three, there is not much you can do, unless the Drakesbad staff forgets to assign seats for single diners, as it did with me for the Wednesday barbeque.
On the other hand, Drakesbad can be a little erratic in its meal service and billing. Avoid dinner on Monday, where the meal consists of a child’s portion chicken breast and possibly the smallest green salad in Northern California. Try Wednesday, where the outdoor barbeque features steak and has a buffet line that actually permits second helpings from the salad bowl. At checkout, the people ahead of me, through-hikers camping nearby, were each billed $17 for Wednesday’s breakfast and dinner. My meals cost $88 per day (according to the “food tax” charge on my bill). I guess it paid to stay at a campground, but you’d still be stuck with a long drive to the real national park.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In 1916 Congress established Lassen Volcanic National Park as the fifteenth national park in the United States. Privately held Drakesbad bordered the park in the southeast corner. The Sifford family continued to run their beloved Guest Ranch as good neighbors of the Park Service each summer for forty-two years. To preserve the Ranch and guarantee continued quality service for generations to come, Drakesbad was sold to the US government in 1958 for inclusion in to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Since that sale there have been three park concessionaires: for the past 36 years Drakesbad has been run by California Guest Services where the emphasis is still on outstanding customer service! All rates include three meals per day and lodging! All accommodations are rustic and quaint, most without electricity. The use of kerosene lamps is a welcome respite from the modern world and adds a distinct and old time ranch feel to your stay. All rooms include a full or half bath and are gas heated. Housekeeping services are provided daily. As a member of the Green Hotels Network, we make every effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle at Drakesbad. General Information Drakesbad Guest Ranch is open (pending weather conditions) June through mid October. The Ranch is closed mid October through to May. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Drakesbad Guest Ranch Hotel Chester