Search: Advanced | Preference
Traveling Boy means the travel adventures of the Traveiling Boitanos
Travel adventures of Eric Anderson Boitano
Travel adventures of John Clayton
Travel adventures of Deb Roskamp
Travel adventures of Fyllis Hockman
Travel adventures of Brom Wikstrom
Travel adventures of Jim Friend
Travel adventures of Timothy Mattox
Travel adventures of Corinna Lothar
Travel adventures of Roger Fallihee
Travel adventures of Tamara Lelie
Travel adventures of Beverly Cohn
Travel adventures of Raoul Pascual
Travel adventures of Ringo Boitano
Travel adventures of Herb Chase
Travel adventures of Terry Cassel
Travel adventures of Dette Pascual
Travel adventures of Gary Singh
Travel adventures of John Blanchette
Travel adventures of Tom Weber
Travel adventures of James Thomas
Travel adventures of Richard Carroll
Travel adventures of Richard Frisbie
Travel adventures of Masada Siegel
Travel adventures of Greg Aragon
Travel adventures of Skip Kaltenheuser
Travel adventures of Ruth J. Katz
Travel adventures of Traveling Boy's guest contributors

Colorado ad

About Greg   write me    Feeds provide updated website content        

Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Rustic Charm At
Drakesbad Guest Ranch

Story and photos by Greg Aragon

assen Volcanic National Park is home to smoking fumaroles, mud pots, boiling pools, meadows and streams, crystal clear lakes, forests and towering volcanoes. It is also home to Drakesbad Guest Ranch, a 110-yr-old mountain hideaway, where a friend and I recently spent the weekend in a rustic bungalow below the stars.

The adventure began near the tiny Northern California town of Chester, where we drove down a winding, 17-mile dirt and gravel road to the entrance of the ranch. Here, we found a small outpost at the base of a hill, surrounded by a giant meadow and a thick forest. We then met Drakesbad managers/hosts Pat and Valerie Flack, who gave us the rundown and showed us to our cabin.

red cabins at a meadow behind a thick forest, Drakesbad Guest Ranch, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Drakesbad Guest Ranch is a 110-yr-old mountain hideaway
in Lassen Volcanic National Park

Overlooking the meadow, the quarters were rustic and comfortable. Like most of the ranch, it didn’t come with electricity, but made up for it in old-time charm. It came with two wooden beds, a heater, a bathroom with shower, and solar and kerosene lamps. It also boasted a wooden patio protruding into the field, with spectacular views of Lassen Volcanic Park, surrounding mountains, the hot springs pool and resident horses.

The porch was also a great spot to watch deer and marmots graze in the tall grass a few feet from the room. Marmots are those large squirrel-like animals that stand on their hind legs in the meadows, eating and looking around.

deer and marmot grazing in a meadow, Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Deer and marmots love to graze in the meadows around Drakesbad

Once settled into our room, we joined 20 or so other Drakesbad guests at the main building for dinner. And this is where things got interesting – and tasty. While the ranch may be primitive in some respects, its cuisine is anything but. The food here is exciting, comforting and definitely gourmet.

Our meal began with a divine BLT salad with lettuce, avocado, bacon strips, basil pesto, tomato vinaigrette and fresh mozzarella. We accompanied this with a glass of chardonnay. For the main course we devoured a memorable Griddled Salmon, with lobster claw meat and giant prawn risotto; English peas, baby carrots and asparagus Vin Blanc. For dessert we split homemade cheese cake with drunken strawberries.

Griddled Salmon, with lobster claw meat and giant prawn risotto, Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Drakesbad may be rustic, but the food is gourmet

After dinner we soaked in ranch’s soothing hot mineral springs-fed pool. Still in the same spot since Drakesbad (German for Drake’s bath), opened in 1900, the pool is a great way to unwind after a day in the 5,000-ft elevation of the mountains.

hot mineral springs-fed pool at Drakesbad Guest Ranch
A spring-fed pool soothes guests at Drakesbad Ranch

Back at the room, I lit the kerosene lantern and read about the legendary history of the ranch and all the hydrothermal wonders such as natural steam vents, bubbling mud pots, hot springs and volcanic rock that surround it.

It all started in 1900, when Alexander Sifford, an ailing school teacher traveled three days by horse wagon with his family to experience the healing powers of Hot Springs Valley and to drink the soda waters of “Drake’s Spring,” which were named for pioneer Edward Drake. Sifford liked the land so much he purchased it from Drake for $6,000 and renamed the property Drakesbad.

For the next 60 years his family owned and operated Drakesbad Guest Ranch, welcoming visitors from all over the world. In 1916 Congress established Lassen Volcanic National Park as the 15th US National Park. In 1958, privately-owned Drakesbad was sold to the government. Since the sale, Drakesbad has been run by California Guest Services. Ed and Billie Fiebiger ran it for the past 19 years and Pat and Valerie recently took over the managing duties.

a meadow at Lassen Volcanic National Park
Drakesbad has been welcoming visitors from around the world since the early 1900s

In the morning, we hiked to Devils Kitchen, a steamy mountain patch surrounded by boiling mud pots, hydrothermal vents and natural springs. To get here we hiked an hour through lovely Warner Valley meadows and forests. The journey took us over wooden bridges, past lonely creeks and through marsh and thick woodlands to an eerily beautiful area, encompassed by crackled yellow and red mounds of earth erupting with streams steam. As the steam swirls into the air it hisses and plops and sounds like the earth is cooking.

hikers at Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen National Park is full of boiling mud pots, hydrothermal vents, natural springs and beautiful hikes

The volcanic park's unique hydrothermal system is caused when rain and snow water fall and seep deep into the ground and is heated by hot molten rock beneath Lassen Peak. Rising hot water boils to form boiling pools and mud pots. Super-heated steam reaches the surface through fractures in the earth to form fumaroles like those at Devil's Kitchen.

And speaking of kitchens, we headed straight to Drakesbad's galley after the hike for lunch, which like breakfast and dinner, is included with the price of the room. Later that day, we walked to the stables and saddled up for a horseback ride to Terminal Geyser.

Horses have been a part of Drakesbad since the early 1900’s. The ranch offers guided trail rides (check their website for pricing) for beginners and experts. Our 3-hour trek through the forest and meadows came with post card views of Lassen Peak, nearby Lake Almanor, and glorious fields of Mule Ears flowers.

guided horseback tour from Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Drakesbad offers guided horseback rides for beginners and experts

After the ride, we enjoyed a memorable prime rib dinner at the lodge. The feast began with a lettuce wedge salad with blue cheese, vinaigrette, avocado and bacon. This was followed by succulent, oven roasted Angus prime rib with fingerling potatoes, broccoli, beef au jus sauce and beaver's horseradish.

Other fun activities and Drakesbad include fishing expeditions, massage treatments, and numerous things for the kids such as archery, treasure hunts, arts and crafts, "ice cream socials," and star gazing nights.

Drakesbad Guest Ranch is located in Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. The ranch is open June 7 – October 14. All meals are included with price of room and kids stay free. For more information on visiting and pricing, call (866) 999-0914 or visit

Related Articles:
Agua Dulce and the Sierra Pelona Valley; Highway 49 Revisited; Big Bear Lake; Ojai; Morton's Warm Springs; Mohonk Mountain House; Fall Fun in Santa Monica; Warner Springs Ranch, San Diego; Laguna Beach

Name: Required
E-mail: Required
City: Required

Let Greg know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

Feedback for Harry Potter at Universal Studios

Going to Universal Studios Hollywood to see the Harry Potter "land" is on my bucket list!!

-- Nancy, Hawaii

* * * *

Feedback for A Spring Escape to Maui And Hotel Wailea

I leave here April 21 for Maui and can hardly wait. It'll be my 15th trip, more or less and I love it, and your pictures.

-- Ellie – Port Ludlow, WA

* * * *

Hi Greg,

It's not a forest of banyan trees in Lahaina by the harbor. It's one huge tree, about 140 years old. It's an important landmark of Lahaina, and one of our favorite views.We always stay at the Pioneer Inn, overlooking the harbor and the banyan tree. Every evening thousands of mynah birds fly into the tree, chattering and fluttering until they settle down for the night. Otherwise, great article.

-- Virginia – Northridge, CA

* * * *

Feedback for Hilton San Diego Resort & Spa

Very nice story, Greg.

-- Maris Somerville – Los Angeles, CA

Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Three Musical Pilgrimages: Mozart, Grieg and Hendrix

Troldhaugen Villa in Bergen, Norway
Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 - 1791) could read and compose music, plus play the violin and piano, when he was five years old. Born into a musical family in Salzburg, Austria (then the Holy Roman Empire), he had a unique ability for imitating music, which first became evident when he recited a musical piece by simply observing his father conducting a lesson to his older sister. This led to a childhood on the road, where the young prodigy performed before many of the royal courts of Europe.

Go There

Tom Weber's travel blog/review
Treasures of Ireland: The Irish Goodbye (Dispatch #20)

Irish sunset

The Palladian Traveler brings to a close his 20-part series on the Emerald Isle from an upscale restaurant in downtown Dublin where he files his final dispatch and then quietly slips away.

Go There

John Clayton's travel blog/review
Two "MUST SEE" Truly Spectacular Places in Europe. Here's Why.

Culzean Castle, Scotland
The Han Grotto and Culzean Castle. As the name of my Traveling Boy feature is "Travel With a Difference," it's important to me to always bring you offbeat and unusual tourist places around the world you may not know about. These two fit that category to a T, and they're absolutely worth a visit. One's in Scotland and one's in Belgium. Culzean (pronounced CULLANE) Castle is located near Maybole, Carrick, on the Ayrshire coast of Scotland.

go there

Ringo Boitano's travel blog/review
Highway 49 Revisited: Exploring California's Gold Country

aurora borealis lights up the night sky near Fairbanks
In the 1840s, the population of California was only 14,000, but by 1850 more than 100,000 settlers and adventurers had arrived from all over the world – and they came for one reason: gold. James Marshall had discovered the first gold nugget at Sutter’s Mill in El Dorado County, creating the largest gold rush in history.

go there

Eric Anderson's travel blog/review
Lake Charles’ Family-Size Low-Key Mardi Gras

dressed-up for the Mardi Gras
The Southwest Louisiana Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, the second largest in Louisiana, does not need parents there to avert their children’s eyes. This is family entertainment and children are very much part of it. The main office of the Lake Charles CVB has costumes from last year’s Mardi Gras but it also has figures to fascinate little ones from country boys fishing for their dinner to alligators who have already fed and are rubbing their stomachs.

go there

Fyllis Hockman's travel blog/review
Puerto Vallarta: Magic and Mayhem on the Malecon

Cedar Hill, Washington DC
So I heard that you could spend from dawn to dusk on the Malecon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and never get bored and I thought, "Okay, I'm up for that challenge." Well, maybe not the dawn part – I'm not a morning person – so I had no problem leaving those early hours to the joggers and those seeking an early start to catch their red snapper for dinner.

Go There

Deb Roskamp's travel photo blog
Tahiti and Her Islands


Just their names (pronounce each vowel!) conjure up romantic images: Tahiti Nui, Moorea, Bora Bora, Huahine, Ra'iatea, Taha'a. Her people are gentle; the air, tiare-perfumed. Warm lagoons, majestic peaks, tropical fruits from the land and bounty from the sea all tantalize the senses. Paradise! As near as can be found on planet earth. And, in my experience, the finest way to explore her is on a ship designed for that single purpose.

go there

Raoul Pascual's travel blog
Leviticus 20:13
Sent by Tom of Pasadena, CA

It all makes sense now. Gay marriage and marijuana was legalized in the last election. Leviticus 20:13 states
"If a man lays with another man, he should be stoned..." We've been interpreting it wrong all these years!

go there

John Blanchette's travel blog/review
Rolling Through the Outback on the Indian Pacific's Christmas Train

Santa with native Australian on an Indian Pacific Christmas train stop
It was mid December and a heat wave had embraced the country. Record setting temperatures were searing the land from high 90s in Sydney and Adelaide to blast furnace heat in the great Outback. Fires were raging throughout the country. But we were cool, riding the air-conditioned Indian Pacific railway across the southern expanse of Australia to the west coast city of Perth, a four-day transcontinental tour...

Traveling Guest

Gary Singh's travel blog/review
Monte Verità: In the Footsteps of Anarchy

Chiara's Rainbow, Monte Verita, Switzerland
Just as I reach the end of a squiggling, multicolored path, an acorn plummets from an oak tree above me. It lands at my feet, just as the path culminates at a mandala of Venetian glass, eight feet in diameter. On the worn-out front lawn of Monte Verità, the Mountain of Truth, this path, Chiara's Rainbow, evolves through the colors of the spectrum – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and finally violet – before arriving at the mosaic mandala where psychic energies supposedly prevail. The falling acorn brings me to the present moment.

go there

© All Rights Reserved. 2015.
This site is designed and maintained by WYNK Marketing. Send all technical issues to:
Friendly Planet Travel

Lovin Life After 50

Big Sur ad

Tara Tours ad

Alaska Cruises & Vacations ad

Cruise One ad

Visit Norway ad

Sitka, Alaska ad

Montreal tourism site

Visit Berlin ad

official website of the Netherlands

Cruise Copenhagen ad

Sun Valley ad

Philippine Department of Tourism portal

Quebec City tourism ad

AlaskaFerry ad

Zurich official website

Zuiderzee Museum ad