Saturday, April 1, 2023


National Parks contain volcanoes with highest threats

Bumpass Hell thermal area at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

Have you visited and/or camped at Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park, climbed to the top of Lassen Peak in its namesake park, or hiked down to Crater Lake? If so, you can cross those three off your bucket list of the country’s most dangerous volcanoes according to the U.S. Geological Survey and reported by the National Parks Traveler.

The latest U.S. Geological Survey National Volcanic Threat Assessment, an update to the 2005 assessment, places volcanoes into five threat categories: very low, low, moderate, high and very high.

Volcanic threat, as defined by Ewert (2007), is the combination of 24 factors describing a volcano’s hazard potential and exposure of people and property to those hazards (independent of any mitigation efforts or actions).

According to the USGS, 34 of the volcanic systems (about 21 percent overall) mentioned in the assessment are either entirely or partially within areas managed as national parks or national monuments (two of the monuments are managed by agencies other than the National Park Service).

Within the National Park System, the following mainland park locations (excludes Alaska and Hawaii) made the list:

Mount Rainier National Park, a park established around an active volcano (No. 2, very high threat)

Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lassen Peak (No. 11 overall, very high threat)

Crater Lake National Park, which is established around an active volcano (No. 17 overall, very high threat).

Yellowstone National Park, which surrounds the Yellowstone caldera (No. 21, high threat)

Lava Beds National Monument, where Medicine Lake lies (No. 45, high threat)

Valles Caldera National Preserve, which includes a volcanic caldera (No. 68, moderate threat)

Sunset Crater National Monument, which is located within the San Francisco Volcanic Field (No. 80, moderate threat)

Death Valley National Park, for Ubehebe Crater (No. 99, moderate threat)

Craters of the Moon National Monument, Hells Half Acre, Black Butte Crater, Wapi Flow (No. 124, low threat)

El Malpais National Monument, for the Zuni-Bandera volcanic field (No. 141, low threat).

Devils Postpile National Monument, which is home to Mammoth Mountain (No. 151, very low threat)

Related story: Add a volcano or two to your Western Road trip.


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2 years ago

I cannot comprehend the destruction that Crater Lake would cause if it blew up…With all that water in the crater….As the crow flies I live about 100 miles from Crater lake….

4 years ago

I live near Lassen Park. The volcano is entirely within the park. It is what is called a plug dome volcano. It’s the kind that can blow its top as it did in 1915. They keep going back and forth on how dangerous it is. Nevertheless, it is a gorgeous place to visit and camp. Rvs are welcome.

John T
4 years ago

The BLM’s Valley of Fires Recreation Area in New Mexico last erupted from 5000 to 2000 years ago. The campground is right on the edge of the lava field.

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