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Backpacker Magazine – June 2009

Natural Wonders: Three Treks to Life-List Phenomena

Check out the world's hottest hydrothermal fumarole, Glacier's grizzlies, and a venus flytryp in North Carolina.

by: Jayme Otto

Big Boiler (Thomas Hallstein)
Big Boiler (Thomas Hallstein)
Glacier Grizzly (Kerrick James)
Glacier Grizzly (Kerrick James)
Venus Flytrap (Brian F. Jorg)
Venus Flytrap (Brian F. Jorg)

The World's Hottest Hydrothermal Fumarole
Feel the breath of an active California volcano.

The Wonder Fumaroles are fissures in the Earth's crust that spew steam and volcanic gas. Scientists measured the temperature of the steam jetting from Big Boiler, the largest fumarole in California's Lassen Volcanic National Park, at 322°F, making it one of the hottest vents in the world.

The Way Start at Lassen's Bumpass Hell parking area, 2.5 hours northeast of Sacramento. From the trailhead, you'll climb 500 feet in the first mile, then descend .5 mile into the most thermally active area in the park. Big Boiler is easy to spot with its steam plume rising 30 feet skyward. You'll catch the smell of rotten eggs, too–that's hydrogen sulfide, a gas released by the magma below. Burbling mud pots and bright yellow crystalline sulfur deposits line the trail.

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Bill Stansbury
Jul 17, 2009

It is best to do this hike after July 1st. We were there in the middle of June and encountered a great deal of snow on this trail. It is well worth the time and effort. A mini Yellowstone.


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