By Anna Hider

Flash back to grade school science class- can you still name the four different kinds of volcanoes? Here’s a quick refresher: shield volcanoes, plug/lava dome volcanoes, cinder cone volcanoes and composite volcanoes (also known as stratovolcanoes). There’s only a few places in the world where you can find all four in one area, and one of them happens to be a national park, appropriately named Lassen Volcanic National Park. This lesser-known national park, located in Northern California, is a great place to let your inner Bill Nye out and explore each type of volcano for yourself!

1. Shield Volcano: Prospect Peak

Prospect Peak Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lassen has four shield volcanoes, but Prospect Peak is notable for the magnificent views it offers, should you hike it. Shield volcanoes are formed when fluid lava flows down the volcano, hardening and building up the mountain over time. They have a distinct broad shape, kind of like a shield, hence the name.

2. Plug Dome: Lassen Peak

Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic National Park

One of only two volcanoes to erupt in the US during the 20th century (the other being Mount St. Helens), Lassen Peak is also one of the largest dome volcanoes in the world at an impressive 2,000 feet above the rest of the terrain. Plug domes form when more viscous lava flows from a volcano, creating a taller, steeper mountain. Lassen Peak’s most powerful recent eruption, in 1915, spread ash as far as 200 miles away!

3. Cinder Cone: Cinder Cone Volcano

Cinder Cone, Lassen Volcanic National Park

This 700-foot-tall volcano makes for an incredible but sometimes-challenging hike. Cinder cone volcanoes are made of ash and debris that accumulate around a volcanic vent, so the ground on the trail is softer than normal. Anyone who makes it to the top is rewarded with views of the whole park and a chance to hike into the crater on the top of the volcano.

4. Composite: Brokeoff Volcano

Brokeoff Mountain, Lassen Volcanic National Park

Composite volcanoes, like Lassen Volcanic National Park’s Brokeoff Volcano, are made up of many layers of lava, pumice, and ash. Brokeoff Volcano, also called Mount Tehama, is ancient and eroded but the highest peak, Brokeoff Mountain, boasts an elevation of 9,235 feet, making it perfect for the adventurous hiker.


Anna Hider still enjoys and learns a lot from Bill Nye to this day! Find her on Google+ and Twitter.