Nature Enthusiasts Will Love This Historic West Coast Road Trip Route

The United States is filled with amazing national parks, and many nature-loving travelers aim to visit all 63 national parks during their lifetimes. An adventurous way to see the beauty that America has to offer is by road-tripping, and there are even ways to see more than one national park on a single route.

There are not many places in the continental United States with volcanic history. However, a road trip that brings travelers to volcanic formations further south is the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. It begins at Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon and ends around Lassen Volcanic National Park, and there are plenty of natural and historic highlights in between as you meander along the 500-mile stretch. Such highlights include Native American carvings, mountains, caves, and stunning waterfalls. So, if you've ever wanted to hit the road and explore the still-wild west of America, then this is the perfect itinerary.

Visit caves formed by volcanic activity

Crater Lake at Crater Lake National Park is the result of a massive caldera that formed after a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. Smaller eruptions then formed Wizard Island in the caldera, which became an island as rain and snow created the deep blue lake around it. When entering from any of the park's marked entrances, there are multiple places to pull over and take in the sights. Each season brings different scenery to the park. However, changes in weather can affect your visit, so be sure to check their Current Conditions page before planning your arrival.

At the California-Oregon border, the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway branches off into two paths. A highlight of the route that veers east is Petroglyph Point, which is the largest site of Native American rock carvings in California. The exact time period during which people created these artistic carvings is unknown, but archaeologists estimate nearby carvings to be around 6,000 years old. Some of these nearby carvings are at Lava Beds National Monument, an area that has remnants of volcanic activity as well. Lava flows cooled on the outside edges, but the molten liquid inside continued moving — creating tubes that are now beautiful caves big enough to explore.

See the 129-foot tall Burney Falls

The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway route which heads southwest leads to Mount Shasta. If climbing over 14,000 feet does not sound appealing, vehicles can get you to some iconic views of the mountain via Highway 97. If you are coming from Lava Beds National Monument, Highway 89 offers similar vistas, as this is the Highway that reconnects the eastern route of Volcanic Legacy with Highway 97. An option closer to the mountain is the Everitt Memorial Highway, which leads to Bunny Flats.

Waterfalls on the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway are renowned as well. A favorite is Burney Falls, which President Theodore Roosevelt called "the eighth wonder of the world," according to Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. Burney Falls is only 44 miles from McCloud, which has three waterfalls of its own all within one mile.

Lassen Volcanic National Park is home to Lassen Peak and multiple other idyllic hiking spots. Among those is Bumpass Hell Trail, which leads to the park's biggest hydrothermal spot. Though a round trip for this hike is three miles, there is a parking lot nearby and only moderate elevation gain. In the summer, visitors can enjoy vast swaths of wildflowers throughout the park. Though there are no lifts or equipment rentals in the park, Lassen is the perfect destination for some unbelievable cross-country skiing during winter, especially near Manzanita Lake.