Colorado Plateau Photo Odyssey 1: Manzanita Lake

Lassen SP13-1

Part of going on a Colorado Plateau Odyssey is getting to the Colorado Plateau. If you driving from the northcoast of California, this means traversing three mountain ranges in California and countless ranges in the Great Basin. The first jog of the trip involved getting across California into Nevada. On the way across the state I made a very brief stop at Manzanita Lake, in Lassen Volcanic National Park. I would have liked to make a longer stop, but it was already edging toward 6:30 in the evening and I still had to get all the way to Reno, Nevada. The pictures above and below are the only two shots I took of the lake before scurrying onward:

Manzanita Lake is best photographed in the spring, after the lake has thawed away its winter ice cap but while Mount Lassen is still wearing its winter snow mantle. Obviously, one prefers to photograph the lake on a relatively windless evening, when the light is about right and the lake is reflecting the mountain. This photograph was taken on April 23 on a year with relatively low snow fall. On heavier snowfall years, you might want to photograph the scene a week or two later, as there still might be ice on sections of the lake.

On the April afternoon I had left the northocast at 2:15. It is about a four hour, 190 mile drive from Eureka, CA to Manzanita Lake:

The first part of the trip consists of a three hour drive along Highway 299 through the coastal ranges and then through the Klamath Mountains. One long stretch involves weaving along the Trinity River.

In the spring, the coastal ranges are lush and green:

Once HWY 299 reaches Willow Creek, it follows the course of the Trinity River. Here we enter into the Klamath Mountain Range, where we are confronted with higher, steeper mountains, with a canyon cut by the Trinity River:

Just before Redding one runs across Whiskeytown Lake, which sports a bit of color in the autumn, as seen in the following image:

From Redding you drive about 50 miles on Highway 44 to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Manzanita Lake is right past the entrance into the park.

After getting a couple of snaps at Lake Manzanita, I scurried quickly back to Highway 44 and headed off to Reno, Nevada. It’s about a 2 hour and 45 minute drive (150 miles):

Highway 44 is a fairly quick road. Although you’re going through mountains, the Cascades are largely a high, flat plateau, dotted with the occasional mountain. Just before Susanville, HWY 44 merges into HWY 36. Just beyond Susanville, HWY 36 disappears into HWY 395, which heads off toward Reno. The highway travels along the backside of the northern Sierras. This is a very different landscape from the eastern Sierras further south. The mountains here are not merely as immense as the mountains flanking Mono Lake, Mammoth, and Lone Pine. Here’s a shot taken after an autumn storm: