The dry, smoldering, treeless terrain within this 106, 000-acre national park stands in stunning contrast to the cool, green conifer forest that surrounds it. Entering the park (especially from the southern entrance), is to suddenly step into another world - onto another planet. The Venusian scape here offers a fascinating glimpse into the earth’s fiery core. In a fuming display, the terrain is marked by roiling hot springs, steamy mud pots, noxious sulfur vents, fumaroles, lava flows, cinder cones, craters and crater lakes.
In earlier times, the region was a summer encampment and meeting point for Native American tribes - namely the Atsugewi, Yana, Yahi and Maidu. They hunted deer and gathered plants for basket-making here. Some indigenous people still live near and work closely with the park to help educate visitors on their ancient history and contemporary culture.