What happens to aging fire watch tower lookouts that become obsolete due to more advanced fire detection techniques? After all, they generally come complete with bunks and other amenities one would need for a rustic outdoor experience. It would certainly be a shame to simply lock them up and restrict access.
The US Forest Service agrees, which is why they make their aging fire watch towers available for the general public to rent out for overnight stays. Many of them are not accessible by road, which makes the entire experience even more appealing to avid hikers. It is like hiking to the top of the world, with amazing views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
The feeling of elation a hiker experiences in such settings can be intoxicating. So much so, the idea of spending more than a couple of hours at the top is appealing, to say the least. Why not plan ahead to reserve a fire watch tower lookout for a few days?
Fire lookout rentals can be used as a home base to further explore the rarified air found at high altitudes. Most of the lookouts provide access to various hiking trails in the vicinity.
Although the lookouts are rustic, they were home in the past to fire service workers. That means many of the basic amenities are included, although this varies from lookout to lookout.
For example, here is the (partial) Forest Service description of the Girard Ridge Lookout facility in California:
“Girard Ridge Lookout stands 13 feet off the ground and is accessed via a flight of stairs. It has a standard 14×14 foot cabin with a gable roof and exterior catwalk. There is a separate building with a vault toilet that is accessed by going down the stairs and walking about 30 feet. The cabin offers two twin beds with mattresses. Cabinets are available for storage and there is a table for eating.”
In addition to hiking, the fire lookouts provide access to other popular outdoor activities. For example, here is what the Forest Service has to say about the recreation opportunities near the Deer Ridge Lookout in Idaho:
“Hiking and viewing the scenery are two well-loved activities at the facility. Hiking trails from the lookout follow along the Deer Ridge and Ruby Ridge. Huckleberry picking is enjoyed from August to September. Fly fishing is available in the Moyie River, where anglers can cast for rainbow and brook trout.”
Of course, many hiking trails are also open to mountain biking. In the winter snowmobiling is another popular activity at some of the lookouts. It is worth noting that even some lookouts that are still used for fire detection in the summer months, can be rented out in the winter.
Visit the fire lookout rentals page for full details and images of the various fire lookouts that are available.
From there you can choose the fire lookout that most stirs your imagination for an unforgettable outdoor adventure!