Base Camp to Your Next Lassen Volcanic National Park Adventure

Nestled in the heart of the stunning Northern California region, just a stone’s throw away from the captivating Lassen Volcanic National Park, lies a hidden gem waiting to be discovered, St. Bernard’s Lodge in Chester. When you visit the Golden State, this charming lodge offers a warm and welcoming retreat that combines natural beauty and a touch of rustic elegance.

Mt Lassen, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Mt Lassen Peak located in Lassen National Park, California.

A Gateway to Natural Splendor

St. Bernard’s Lodge, owned and operated by Sharon and Bill Roberts for 24 years, has long served as one of our Sierra favorites for a mountain getaway. Its perfect location is an ideal gateway for those exploring the breathtaking wonders of Lassen Volcanic National Park, a true marvel of nature with its bubbling mud pots, majestic peaks, and mesmerizing geothermal features. From the lodge, it’s just a short 20-minute scenic drive, making it easy to immerse yourself in Northern California’s unique landscapes. If you’re like us, the ability to be in the park early and stay late as a traveler is a bonus that is hard to pass up. St. Bernard’s location makes that adventure option an easy reality.

On our last summer visit, we took in the sights at Cinder Cone and Butte Lake located in the North Eastern Corner of the park. These wonders lie at the boundary of a lava field recognized as the Fantastic Lava Beds. Because of lighting, we chose not to climb the Cinder Cone on this day, instead decided to circle the park and enjoy the colorful palette and extraordinary scenery the Lassen offers. Sharon told us not to miss the Hat Creek Rim Scenic overlook if we were driving around. What a great tip that was. This scenic overlook gives you a perfect picture view of Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta in one panoramic overview of the Hat Creek region.

Soon after enjoying the lookout, we found ourselves pulling into Lassen Volcanics North entrance next to Manzanita Lake. Such a beautiful location to enjoy in every season. (I need to remember to come up this way and go snowshoeing on the Northside of the park.) Running a little late on time because we had scheduled a Star tour in the park with Lassen Sightseeing Tours for the evening, we decided to drive to Lassen Peak and Lake Helen, stopping briefly at Kings Creek Meadow to admire the wild flowers. This is one of my favorite picture spots in the park.

Lake Helen Lassen peak
Lake Helen in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Lake Helen, to my surprise, was empty. This seemed odd for a summer afternoon, but thunderstorms were rolling in, maybe keeping visitors away. Lake Helen is the purest water I have ever set foot in. I hear they are requesting people not swim here any more, but in the past, I have enjoyed a nice refreshing dip. The water color is not of this world.

Just past Lake Helen is a great scenic parking area that acts as the trailhead to Bumpass Hell. We skipped the hike there today, but it is an incredible place and I highly recommend the trek back into this “alien-like planet” region. The parking area is a great scenic overlook into the South side of the park. The thermal region of Broekhoff Mountain is rugged and beautiful. The thing that struck me this year was you obviously see the burn scar from the Dixie Fire throughout the park, but from here you actually start to see what the new park is going to offer. There are a dozen meadows that can be seen off in the distance. This new look will be fun to watch over the years as the forest repairs itself and the meadows begin to flourish.

Due to the pending thunderstorms, we were waiting to see if the night tour was still on. When we finally heard that due to the storm coming in that the tour was canceled, we made our way to the south entrance and headed back to St. Bernard’s for the evening.

Rustic Elegance and Comfort

When you’re not out exploring the wonders of the park, St. Bernard’s Lodge welcomes you back with open arms to its cozy and inviting accommodations. The lodge strikes the perfect balance between rustic charm and modern comfort. Imagine savoring a delicious meal in the lodge’s rustic-chic dining area after a day of hiking and, after dinner, relaxing in the bar and game room as you and your party enjoy a cocktail, play pool and take in the scenic views of the national forest lands surrounding the property. 

st bernard lodge pond

On our recent stay, my wife found the outside patio a perfect place to recline and read a book while I escaped for a half-day fishing trip with professional fishing guide, Mark Pilgrim, on Lake Almanor. And I personally enjoyed the fresh chocolate chip cookies awaiting me upon my return.

Hospitality with a Personal Touch

One of the standout features of St. Bernard’s Lodge is the genuine hospitality that awaits you. From Sharon and Jim who love helping guests enjoy their stay and discover the region around them. It’s like having your own personal tour guide right at your fingertips. Your “lodge” experience starts with a pre-visit communication for meal requests for dinner or breakfast, followed by friendly guest greetings upon arrival. Each morning is greeted with a coffee station with freshly brewed right outside your room; and warm, freshly baked cookies await you when you return from your adventures in the evening. 

bedroom, curtains, forest out window
St. Bernard Lodge room

A Haven for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Whether you’re an experienced hiker, an avid angler, or simply someone who loves the great outdoors, St. Bernard’s Lodge offers something for everyone. In the warmer months, you can explore the network of trails that crisscross the region, ranging from leisurely strolls to challenging hikes that reward you with panoramic vistas. During the winter, the lodge becomes a haven for snow lovers, as the nearby Lassen National Forest becomes a playground for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Speaking with Sharon on this trip, winter season may be limited come late December. Growth in their family, in means of grandchildren, have them wanting to travel in the winter to warmer climates closer to their family. So if you are considering a winter visit, check the website or give them a call beforehand.

We have made the trek up north to Lassen for snowshoeing multiple times and have found the fresh powder dumps at the Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center a great place to spend the day on our visits. Only 20 minutes from St. Bernard’s Lodge, it is easy to access and makes for a more extended day of adventure. 

Unwind and Recharge

After a day of adventure, there’s nothing quite like unwinding at the lodge. Relax on the outdoor patio and breathe in the fresh mountain air as you gaze at the star-studded night sky. Or treat yourself to a soothing soak in the lodge’s hot tub, allowing the warm water to melt away any lingering fatigue. A full bar for guests allows for a leisurely wine toast or gentlemanly Old-fashioned sip while enjoying the stories of the day’s adventures or talking about tomorrow.

But I will tell you, that sometimes after i visit, i wish i could just chill out and not fill my schedule. Because St. Bernard’s is the kind place i could just hang out in and recharge. Id love to grab a seat next tot he pond out back and just take a mountain nap.

Plan Your Getaway Today

After a day of adventure, there’s nothing quite like unwinding at the lodge. Relax on the outdoor patio and breathe in the fresh mountain air as you gaze at the star-studded night sky or treat yourself to a soothing soak in the lodge’s hot tub, allowing the warm water to melt away any lingering fatigue. A full bar for guests allows for a leisurely wine toast or a gentlemanly sipped Old-Fashioned while enjoying the stories of the day’s adventures or making plans for tomorrow.

But I will tell you, that sometimes after I visit, I wish I could (or would) just chill out and not fill my schedule because St. Bernard’s is the kind place I could just hang out and recharge. I’d love to grab a seat next to the pond out back and just take a mountain nap. Maybe next time!

Plan Your Getaway Today

If you’re seeking an unforgettable escape to Northern California’s natural beauty and want to experience the wonder of Lassen Volcanic National Park, St. Bernard’s Lodge in Chester is the perfect destination. Whether you’re traveling solo, with a partner, or bringing the whole family along, the lodge’s comfortable accommodations, personalized hospitality, and proximity to the park make it an ideal base for your adventure.

Other resources and past trip tips for the area



Publisher of Sierra Rec Magazine. An avid hiker and explorer of mountain lifestyle and adventure. I love to discover new trails, hike along rivers and hang a hammock along the shores of a mountain lake. I often great people on the trail and have found some of my favorite places from the advice of people I meet in the Wilderness. I love the sierra and just like sharing what I know.

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