There’s nothing quite like exposing your kids to the majestic beauty of our national parks. Lassen Volcanic National Park is about four hours from San Francisco and about as far away from city life as you can get. Drakesbad Guest Ranch sits just inside the park and is the ideal spot to bring your family and literally unplug (there’s no cell reception or WiFi within miles!). Check out all it offers and book your stay!
A Mountain Retreat
As soon as you drive on to the one-lane gravel road that leads to Drakesbad, you’ll know that you are truly getting away. Located just inside the south portion of Lassen Volcanic National Park, Drakesbad offers cabins for as many as four people and bungalows that can sleep up to 10 people at a time. Multi-generational families visit year after year as it offers something for all ages. Bonus: kids under age six stay free!
All rooms include a full or half-bath with additional showers offered at the pool house. The Annex is the only sleeping quarters that offers electricity with outlets—the others have kerosene lamps only (which is part of the fun!) and no electricity.
Drakesbad is about 30 minutes from the closest town of Chester so all meals are included with your stay. Guests have reserved seating in the dining room or outside deck for breakfast and dinner. Lunch can be eaten in the dining room as well or you can request a sack lunch to take with you on your day’s adventure. Breakfast includes a buffet with fruit, cereals, oatmeal and a hot item like French toast and bacon. Dinner includes two choices, a meat option and one that is vegan-friendly. Kids can choose from options like mac n’ cheese, pizza and pasta for dinner.
Horseback Riding and Hiking
The Ranch offers horseback riding to Boiling Springs Lake, the largest acid lake in the U.S. The other-worldly landscape and smell of sulfur will be nothing like you’ve experienced before. You can also opt for longer a trail ride to Devil’s Kitchen where you can see boiling springs, mud pots and steam vents before you head back to the stable. Horseback riding is for kids seven and older, those under seven can choose a 30-minute pony ride led by a ranch wrangler.
You can easily hike to either of these locations with Boiling Springs Lake being especially kid-friendly at only 90 minute round trip.
Hot Spring-Fed Pool
After a day spent hiking through Lassen, you’ll definitely want to spend some time relaxing in the property’s hot spring-fed swimming pool. During the day the pool is cooled to an enjoyable temperature but when the sun sets in the evenings, the pool becomes a huge hot tub! Lounge poolside in one of the hammocks and enjoy the scenic views. Showers and restrooms are available in the pool house.
Daily arts and crafts are offered at 11 a.m. where the kids can paint pine cones and rocks or make beaded bracelets before heading to lunch. Archery is available every afternoon with instruction and equipment provided. Ping pong, horseshoes and cornhole games are available on the property. Or pick a spot on one of the swings and watch for deer in the meadow as the sun sets. End your day with a spot at the campfire where you can roast marshmallows for s’mores. After a long day on the trails, mom and dad can even enjoy an on-site massage.
In addition to meals offered at the dining room, Drakesbad has a well-stocked store in the lodge that offers ice cream, cold drinks and souvenirs for purchase. From 2-5 p.m. enjoy happy hour on the deck with daily offerings like fresh-made donuts and Drakesbad fries topped with spicy chipotle sauce. Local beers and wine are available for purchase at meals and throughout the day at the dining hall.
Drakesbad opens for the season the first week of June (weather permitting) and closes on Columbus Day weekend. Reservations are taken up to a year and half in advance, starting in November (in Nov. 2018 dates for 2020 will be available). With many families returning year after year, dates do fill up so get your reservation in!
Drakesbad Guest Ranch
14423 Warner Valley Road
Rates (per person per day, including meals): $180 and up/adults, $75/kids 7-14, under 7 are free
—photos and story by Kate Loweth
This trip was paid for by Drakesbad Guest Ranch but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.