Green Ridge Lookout in Deschutes National Forest near Bend, Oregon

Places You Can Stay in a Fire Lookout Tower

By Erin Huffstetler | 02/18/2019 | 2 Comments
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Why settle for a boring, overpriced hotel room when you could stay in a fire lookout tower on your next vacation?

At present, there are at least 85 lookout towers in the U.S. that you can rent overnight. Some are in National Forests; some are in state parks; and some are on USDA Forest Service land. Most of these lookouts were built during the 1930s and 40s by the Civilian Conservation Corp, so they have loads of character and charm, not to mention amazing views.

Since modern technology has eliminated the need for most fire towers, they can often be rented year-round, but those that are still in use may only be available during the spring and winter months, when the fire threat is at its lowest.

Despite the popularity of this unique lodging option, most fire lookout towers go for just $25-75 a night – a real steal. So, it should come as no surprise that reservations go quickly. If this is something that you want to work into a trip, you’ll probably need to book your stay several months, or as much as a year in advance. To increase your chance of getting a reservation, try to plan your stay on a weeknight. Cancellations sometimes happen, so it pays to keep checking back, if everything is currently booked.

Things You Should Know Before You Rent a Fire Lookout Tower

  • Lookout towers are often in remote areas, so you may have to park and hike in.
  • Many lookouts are only accessible via primitive roads, so be sure to read the descriptions carefully to see if four-wheel drive or a high-clearance vehicle is recommended.
  • In most cases, you’ll need to pack in water and supplies.
  • Most fire towers do not have electric or plumbing. The majority have a nearby pit toilet that you can use, but some require you to pack out your waste.
  • Most lookouts prohibit indoor cooking, but provide a cooking pit below the tower.
  • You may need to secure a parking permit and/or fire permit.
  • The step stairs to the tower may not be kid or pet-friendly. If you, or one of your companions, has trouble with stairs, look for a fire lookout cabin. These sit on the edge of a cliff at ground level, so you’ll still get a great view, without all the climbing. I’ve noted the type of accommodations in the list below, to help you find the best option.
  • List of Fire Lookout Towers You Can Rent

    All of these fire lookout towers can be booked through recreation.gov, except where noted.

    California

    Black Mountain Lookout in Plumas National Forest – 10-ft tower – near Blairsden
    Bear Basin Lookout and Cabin in Six Rivers National Forest – rental fee includes the lookout and cabin – near Gasquet
    Oak Flat Lookout in Sequoia National Forest – tower – near Kernville
    Girard Ridge Lookout in Shasta-Trinity National Forest – 13-ft tower – near McCloud
    Little Mt. Hoffman Lookout in Shasta-Trinity National Forest – cabin – near McCloud
    McCarthy Point Lookout in Lassen National Forest – cabin – near Red Bluff
    Hirz Mountain Lookout in Shasta-Trinity National Forest – 20-ft tower – near Redding
    Calpine Lookout in Tahoe National Forest – tower – near Sierraville
    Sardine Peak Lookout in Tahoe National Forest – tower – near Sierraville
    Pine Mountain Lookout in Mendocino National Forest – cabin – near Upper Lake

    Colorado

    Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout in Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests Pawnee NG – near Idaho Springs
    Jersey Jim Lookout in San Juan National Forest – tower – near Delores – call 970-533-7060, between 1 – 5 p.m. MST to reserve. They start taking reservations the first business day of March

    Idaho

    Arid Peak Lookout in Idaho Panhandle National Forest – tower– near Avery
    Surveyors Lookout in Idaho Panhandle National Forest – 30-ft tower – near Avery
    Deer Ridge Lookout in Idaho Panhandle National Forest – 40-ft tower – near Bonners Ferry
    Shorty Peak Lookout in Idaho Panhandle National Forest – cabin – near Bonners Ferry
    Deadwood Lookout Recreation Cabin in Boise National Forest – near Emmett
    Castle Butte Lookout in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests – short tower – near Kooskia
    Lookout Butte Lookout in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests – 60-ft tower – near Kooskia
    Walde Lookout in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests – log cabin – near Kooskia
    Austin Ridge Lookout in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest – near Pierce (not available this season)
    Wallow Mtn. Lookout in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest – near Pierce (not available this season)
    Weitas Butte Lookout in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest – near Pierce (not available this season)
    Bald Mountain Lookout in Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest – 50-ft tower – near Potlatch
    Lunch Peak Lookout (Tower) in Idaho Panhandle National Forest – 15-ft tower – near Sandpoint
    Little Guard Lookout in Idaho Panhandle National Forests – 2-story lookout – near Smelterville

    Montana

    Diamond Butte Lookout in Custer National Forest – 30-ft tower – near Ashland
    Mission Lookout in Flathead National Forest – 40-ft – near Big Fork
    Garnet Mountain Lookout in Custer Gallatin National Forest – short tower – near Bozeman
    Hornet Lookout in Flathead National Forest – 2-story lookout (living space is in ground level) – near Hungry Horse
    Gird Point Lookout in Bitterroot National Forest – 8-ft tower – near Darby go here for more info
    McGuire Mtn. Lookout in Kootenai National Forest – cabin– near Eureka
    Mt. Wam Lookout in Kootenai National Forest – cabin – near Eureka
    Webb Mtn. Lookout in Kootenai National Forest – short tower – near Eureka
    Monument Peak Lookout in Lewis and Clark National Forest – cabin – near Harlowton
    Big Creek Baldy Lookout in Kootenai National Forest – 52-ft tower – near Libby
    Granite Butte Lookout on USDA Forest Service land – 20-ft tower– near Lincoln
    West Fork Butte Lookout in Lolo National Forest – cabin – near Missoula
    Cougar Peak Lookout in Lolo National Forest – cabin – near Plains
    Double Arrow Lookout in Lolo National Forest – 20-ft tower – near Seeley Lake
    McCart Lookout in Bitterroot National Forest – 10-ft tower – near Sula
    Medicine Point Lookout in Bitterroot National Forest – 10-ft tower – near Sula
    Thompson Peak Lookout Tower in Lolo National Forest – located on third floor – near Superior
    Up Up Lookout in Lolo National Forest – 40-ft tower – near Superior
    Mission Lookout in Flathead National Forest – 40-ft tower – near Swan Lake
    Gem Peak Lookout in Kootenai National Forest – 30-ft tower – near Trout Creek
    Minton Peak Lookout in Kootenai National Forest – cabin – near Trout Creek
    Sex Peak Lookout in Kootenai National Forest – cabin – near Trout Creek
    Garver Mtn. Lookout in Kootenai National Forest – 40-ft tower – near Troy
    Mt. Baldy-Buckhorn Ridge in Kootenai National Forest – 26-ft tower – near Troy
    Yaak Mtn. Lookout in Kootenai National Forest – 45-ft tower – near Troy

    New Hampshire

    Magallowa Mountain Fire Tower in Pittsburg go here for more info

    Oregon

    Quail Prairie Lookout in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest – near Brookings (not currently accepting reservations)
    Bolan Mountain Lookout in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest – cabin with 30-40 steps – near Cave Junction
    Fairview Peak Lookout Tower in Umpqua National Forest- 53-ft tower – near Cottage Grove (not currently accepting reservations)
    Clear Lake Cabin Lookout in Mount Hood National Forest – 40-ft tower – near Dufur
    Fivemile Butte Lookout in Mount Hood National Forest – 40-ft tower – near Dufur
    Lake of the Woods Lookout in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest- 12-ft tower – near Gold Beach
    Snow Camp Lookout in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest – cabin – near Gold Beach (closed until further notice)
    Onion Mountain Lookout in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest – 12-ft tower – near Grants Pass (not currently accepting reservations)
    Squaw Peak Lookout in Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest – cabin – near Jacksonville
    Drake Peak Lookout in Fremont-Winema National Forest – cabin – near Lakeview
    Tamarack Cabin in Umatilla National Forest – cabin near the tower – near Lexington
    Indian Ridge Lookout in Willamette National Forest – 30-ft tower – near Mckenzie Bridge
    Gold Butte Lookout in Willamette National Forest – cabin – near Mill City
    Bald Butte Lookout in Fremont-Powers National Forest – cabin – near Paisley
    Bald Knob Lookout in Rouge-Siskiyou National Forest – short tower – near Powers
    Fall Mountain Lookout Cabin in Malheur National Forest – 18-ft tower – near Prairie City
    Hager Mountain Lookout in Fremont-Winema National Forest – cabin – near Silver Lake
    Green Ridge Lookout in Deschutes National Forest – two-story tower – near Bend
    Acker Rock Lookout in Umpqua National Forest – cabin– near Tiller
    Pickett Butte Lookout in Umpqua National Forest – 40-ft tower – near Tiller
    Warner Mountain Lookout in Willamette National Forest – 40-ft tower– near Westfir

    South Dakota

    Summit Ridge Lookout Cabin in Blackhills National Forest – log cabin built to house fire tower personnel – near Custer

    Washington

    Hidden Lake Lookout in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – cabin – near Marblemount, WA go here for more info
    Clearwater Lookout Cabin in Umatilla National Forest – cabin at the base of fire tower – near Pomeroy
    Heybrook Lookout in Snoqualmie National Forest – 67-ft tower – near Skykomish
    Evergreen Mountain Lookout in Snoqualmie National Forest – cabin – near Skykomish
    Quartz Mountain Fire Lookout in Spokane State Park – short tower – near Mead go here for more info
    Lookout Mountain Lookout in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – tower – near Marblemount go here for more info
    Park Butte Lookout in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – cabin – near Concrete go here for more info
    Three Fingers Lookout in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – cabin (requires mountain climbing gear to access)- near Darrington go here for more info
    Winchester Mountain Lookout in Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – cabin – Whatcom County go here for more info

    West Virginia

    Thorny Mountain Fire Tower – Seneca State Park – 65-ft tower – near Dunmore – go here for more info

    Wyoming

    Sheep Mountain Fire Lookout on USDA Forest Service land – short tower – near Buffalo
    Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout Tower in Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin NG – 55-ft tower – near Laramie

    This list may not be reproduced anywhere in whole or part. If you’d like to share it with someone, please link to this page.

    Photo courtesy of U.S. Forest Service. Green Ridge Lookout in Deschutes National Forest near Bend, Oregon.

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