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.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.