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“Unique, quiet, peaceful”

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Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Certificate of Excellence
east coast US
Level Contributor
36 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 39 helpful votes
“Unique, quiet, peaceful”
Reviewed 11 September 2010

Located within the borders of Lassen National Park, Drakesbad Ranch is an out of the way hidden gem. We stayed at Drakesbad in a cabin for three nights. It reminded me of summer camp when I was a child. I really enjoyed the experience.

The cabin was comfortable for the two of us with a toilet and sink. There is no electricity in the cabins, kerosene lamps are supplied for your use. We chose not to use the lamps and used flashlights instead. LED flashlights worked well and provided the light we needed.

The food was good. We enjoyed the meals. If you are going to be away for lunch, they provide a bag lunch in the morning. Dinner was very good with a vegetarian option offered.

There are some great hiking trails. Two of our favorites were the trail to Devil's Kitchen, a geothermal area and Boiling Lake, a hot spring-fed sulphurous lake. Drakesbad has a hot spring fed pool (no sulphur smell at all) that is GREAT for relaxing in after a day of hiking. Showers are located near the pool.

They have horses at Drakesbad if you would like to go for trail rides. The most impressive thing about the corral was how CLEAN it was. Manure was promptly removed so flies and strong odors were not a problem!

There were a few extended families that were staying at the ranch when we were there. They all seemed to be enjoying Drakesbad. There is a large "family room" on the first floor of the lodge with a woodstove, fireplace and lots of comfortable chairs. There is electricity in this room, so a it's a great place to curl up with a good book in front of the fire.

NOTE: If you are looking for a place to stay close to Lassen State Park, although Drakesbad is in the park, it is about 1 hour and 15 minutes away from the Lassen NP visitor's center. Go to Drakesbad as a destination and enjoy a day trip to the Lassen NP to see the Bumpass Hell geothermal area, Lassen peak and the park road.

  • Stayed August 2010, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
6 Thank k51773
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (30)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
los angeles
Level Contributor
56 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 154 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 August 2010

Drakesbad may be pleasant enough, I suppose, for residents of the Sacramento valley who want to escape its 100 degree heat. The place seems to draw families with small children and grandparents. Children can play ping-pong, while gramps sits on the porch and looks out at a dry meadow with a bit too much skunk cabbage.

But if you want to see the attractions of Lassen Volcanic national park—its volcanic peaks, waterfalls, and wildflowers—you will have an EIGHTY MINUTE drive to the Visitor Center. Your drive will include at least four miles of low-gear unpaved road, encounters with road construction on single lane highway 36, possibly getting stuck behind a logging truck, and if you are really lucky, you will see a local psychopath jump out of his white Ford pickup and start yelling.

I made this drive twice and also hiked in five miles—mostly uphill through generic national forest—to the highway. I’d recommend staying a little closer to the park.

I found Drakesbad a little too regimented (assigned parking spaces, assigned seats at meals). If you are assigned a dinner table with a Biden-like windbag and his family of three, there is not much you can do, unless the Drakesbad staff forgets to assign seats for single diners, as it did with me for the Wednesday barbeque.

On the other hand, Drakesbad can be a little erratic in its meal service and billing. Avoid dinner on Monday, where the meal consists of a child’s portion chicken breast and possibly the smallest green salad in Northern California. Try Wednesday, where the outdoor barbeque features steak and has a buffet line that actually permits second helpings from the salad bowl. At checkout, the people ahead of me, through-hikers camping nearby, were each billed $17 for Wednesday’s breakfast and dinner. My meals cost $88 per day (according to the “food tax” charge on my bill). I guess it paid to stay at a campground, but you’d still be stuck with a long drive to the real national park.

  • Stayed July 2010, travelled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
12 Thank wheninroam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Northern California
Level Contributor
110 reviews
40 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 September 2009

No phones, newspapers, Internet; or even electricity in the rooms (kerosene lamps are provided), and a few have bathrooms down the hall. Located at the end of an unpaved road from the town of Chester in northeast California. But luxury of a dusty country sort, with three excellent meals a day included, a small heated pool, ping-pong table, croquet set, volleyball court, and two wonderful generous innkeepers and staff. Drakesbad's isolation within Lassen Volcanic Park makes it a great spot for hiking around and out of the Warner Valley, or riding horses you bring or rent at the adjoining stable. Reservations fill up quickly with families who come back year after year, though the occasional cancellation leaves cabins and rooms available on shorter notice. The Pacific Crest Trail passes less than a mile away, so thousand-mile hikers occasionally drop in for a meal, a shower, laundry, or all of the above. It's easy to see why people return here. (The National Park Service is considering making changes to the facilities and the valley ecology, but none of the proposed alternatives appear likely to have a major effect on the ambience of the place, which the NPS says it wants to retain.)

  • Stayed August 2009, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
7 Thank ronks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oakland, California
Level Contributor
121 reviews
90 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 130 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 June 2009

We stayed four nights at this out of the way down a dirt road retreat. The cabins and bungalows do not have electricity (great kerosene lanterns) so put those cell phones and computers away. They are charming wood cabins with fantastic views over the meadow with the deer roaming by. A great hot springs heated pool which we used every night.
The price includes three meals that are very ample and they aim to please. If you don't want something they will substitute something else. As a vegetarian the meals very delicious and varied. the hiking is marvelous and few people are seen on any trail
Come here isfyou want privacy and isolation. Do not come here is you want the comforts of home.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
6 Thank abby7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sacramento CA
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 June 2009

Just spent four nights at Drakesbad with my husband and two teenage children. No electronics, little electricity, and not a complaint all week. Great food, fantastic flora, fauna, and vista, geothermal marvels, including but not capped by a hot spring fed pool that sat at about 94degrees. We hiked, rode, fly fished (1st time), and played games. We even enjoyed a massage. I would go back in a hot minute if I could and I think my electronically connected family would too. Rustic comfort and charming help.

  • Stayed June 2009, travelled with family
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Helpful?
8 Thank jakmalak
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Diego, CA
Level Contributor
81 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 May 2008

This was one of the best vacations we have EVER taken. We went with our two little girls (2 and 4) who LOVE horses. They had a ball feeding the horses carrots, going on pony rides and exploring some of the hiking. The trails are well maintained and easy for little ones as long as you plan to take breaks. They have babysitting available so parents can go for a ride or hike. Guests are friendly and the food is fantastic with great vegetarian options. We will definitely be going back. It is a great place to unplug and spend time with your family.

  • Stayed August 2007, travelled with family
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Helpful?
5 Thank SMPH
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 September 2006

My two sons and I stayed at Drakesbad Ranch a couple years ago. It was rustic, but clean and great fun! We hiked to a boiling mud lake, canoed in a pristine pond, went on a horseback ride, swam in the hot spring swimming pool while we watched deer and other animals roaming around the ranch! There were no t.v.'s, radio's or lights in the rooms. We used kerosene lanterns and flashlights! It was great to really just spend time together as a family! I really liked that this was all inclusive! The meals were included and the food was gourmet! I loved the food! Very fresh and flavorful! The staff were wonderful! Lots of different nationalities and very friendly! They even had s'mores for the kids by the BBQ and stories by the fire too! This was one of our more memorable vacations! I would love to go back and take my husband this time! He was unable to go with us last time. Oh, and Lassen is such a cool place to see! It was July and about 98 degrees and they still had a pile of snow and we had a snowball fight! I would definately recommend Drakesbad! I heard about it in the Family Fun magazine originally!

  • Liked — That it was rustic and there were no t.v.'s! It was like Little House on the Praire, but w/gourmet food!
  • Disliked — Had to drive up dirt road towards the end to reach the ranch.
  • Tips/Secrets — Take comfortable shoes and flashlights! They will even pack you a lunch for your hike! Enjoy!
  • Stayed August 2007, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Calimom1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Drakesbad Guest Ranch

Property: Drakesbad Guest Ranch
Address: end of Warner Valley Road, Chester, CA 96020
Region: United States > California > Plumas County > Chester
Amenities:
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 6 Speciality Lodging in Chester
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 19
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
In 1916 Congress established Lassen Volcanic National Park as the fifteenth national park in the United States. Privately held Drakesbad bordered the park in the southeast corner. The Sifford family continued to run their beloved Guest Ranch as good neighbors of the Park Service each summer for forty-two years. To preserve the Ranch and guarantee continued quality service for generations to come, Drakesbad was sold to the US government in 1958 for inclusion in to Lassen Volcanic National Park. Since that sale there have been three park concessionaires: for the past 36 years Drakesbad has been run by California Guest Services where the emphasis is still on outstanding customer service! All rates include three meals per day and lodging! All accommodations are rustic and quaint, most without electricity. The use of kerosene lamps is a welcome respite from the modern world and adds a distinct and old time ranch feel to your stay. All rooms include a full or half bath and are gas heated. Housekeeping services are provided daily. As a member of the Green Hotels Network, we make every effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle at Drakesbad. General Information Drakesbad Guest Ranch is open (pending weather conditions) June through mid October. The Ranch is closed mid October through to May. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Drakesbad Guest Ranch Hotel Chester

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