Vacation in a Fire Tower in the Pacific Northwest!

Since before the turn of the century, forestry personnel and others have stood guard over numerous government and public lands throughout Canada and the United States. In harm’s way
and with little provisions, they provided sentry duty against fires, floods, hurricanes and other threatening weather conditions in structures that are called fire lookouts or, as some now like to
term them, “Castles In The Air.”

In recent decades many of the lookouts–especially in the Pacific Northwest–have fallen into disrepair, been abandoned or were destroyed by time, fire, erosion and neglect. And, as roads were laid and more modern forms of fire detection were put into use, hundreds of other fire lookouts that were built in the 1930s and 40s simply became obsolete and fell into disuse.

Fortunately, over the last 20 years the Forestry Service began renovating a great many of the old lookouts and making them available as vacation rentals to local residents and tourists, and at
pretty reasonable prices. In the Pacific Northwest alone, the U.S. Forestry Service now rents close to 60 of these former fire lookouts, and vacationers are flocking in groves to spend a little quality time to sample history and take in some breathtaking views from the top-of-the-world cabins in the sky.

For as low as $40 a night individuals or families can escape the hustle and bustle of cell phones, computers, televisions and the madness of city life for weeks on end if they so desire and
experience the sheer wonder of the outdoors firsthand and from elevations many thousands of feet above sea level.

Though many early fire lookouts were simple scaffolds, attached precariously to trees, offering little shelter from the elements, and consisting of fragile materials that were transported to sites by mule train or truck, some of the recreational rental lookouts today are not quite so primitive although most offer very little in accommodations or amenities.

In fact, most of the lookouts throughout the Pacific Northwest are often 12 to 15 feet square in size and offer only a bed and not much more. So lookout adventurers should be prepared to bring their own sleeping equipment, food and water, and other provisions. The wonder of nature is plentiful and high up, but still these Castles In The Air are not the Waldorf Astoria!

Some of the more popular lookouts open for recreational renting in the Pacific Northwest currently, are: Hagar Mountain, Green Ridge, Pickett Butte, West Myrtle Butte, Quail Prairie, and Onion Mountain in Oregon; Burley Mountain, Clearwater, and Kloshe Nanich in the State of Washington; Arid Peak, Austin Ridge, and Shorty Peak in Idaho; and Big Creek Baldy, Garnet Mountain, Medicine Point, and Strawberry Butte in Montana.

The Warner Mountain Lookout located 14 miles south-southeast of Oakridge, Oregon in the Willamette National Forest has an elevation of 5723 feet and is really a great place to bring friends or family. This structure is a relative new one to fire lookouts, and is a superstructure that has a 1920’s vintage replica of a cupola cabin built on top. Listed on the National Historic Lookout Register and the only known example of a cupola built on such an elevated tower, it is
staffed during the summer and available for renting in the winter.

With views of the Siskiyou Wilderness and Red Buttes Wilderness, is Bolan Lookout, about 30 miles southeast of Cave Junction in southwestern Oregon. The lookout is located on ground
level and consists of a 14-by-14 foot structure and provides good shelter from the elements outside. It rents for $40 a night with a five-consecutive night limit for one to four people at a time.

Believe it or not, the Pacific Northwest even has a Fire Lookout Museum, perhaps the only one of its kind in the United States. Sponsored by the Historic Lookout Project, the museum is not
exclusive to the Pacific Northwest, but is in the business of research and maintaining collections of wildfire tools, documents and other historical objects.

The museum also strives to preserve and restore–on-site or by relocation–the many abandoned lookout structures throughout the country. Founded in 1969, the museum is located several
miles north of Spokane, Washington and is open April through October each year, with free admission to the public anytime by appointment (phone: 509-466-9171).

Lookouts and fire towers have also been featured in several television programs including Northern Exposure, MacGyver and The Red Green Show, as well as in the films Red Skies Over
Montana, Fire On Kelly Mountain, and Homeward Bound, to name just a few. Some television commercials and magazine publications also feature lookouts in their advertisements.

The lookout rental business may not have been taken up by travel agencies or the tourist industry yet. But ever since Snow Camp Lookout (near Brookings, Oregon; elevation: 4,223 feet) was the
first such structure to hit the vacation rental market back in 1990, family outings and outdoor tourism have never been so exotic nor so charged with quality time.

Hang-gliding, ski-diving and bungee-jumping over Pacific Northwest glades and peaks will perhaps remain favorite undertakings for bored vacationers and extreme sports enthusiasts alike. But recreational times are continually a’changing. And with the help of online sites, commercial advertisements and the U.S. Forestry Service, the doldrums of vacation routine have taken one more step towards extinction.

Happy vacation life these days can be a single morning at one with nature and sharing a lazy night under the stars with love-ones while experiencing the solitude and majestic outcry of the forest precincts. Perhaps a day or weekend atop any Castle-In-The-Air fire lookout may not get one’s blood rushing. But it is a relatively new and surefire way to take back home the experience of a lifetime.

Since before the turn of the century, forestry personnel and others have stood guard over numerous government and public lands throughout Canada and the United States. In harm’s way and with little provisions, they provided sentry duty against fires, floods, hurricanes and other threatening weather conditions in structures that are called fire lookouts or, as some now like to
term them, “Castles In The Air.”

In recent decades many of the lookouts–especially in the Pacific Northwest–have fallen into disrepair, been abandoned or were destroyed by time, fire, erosion and neglect. And, as roads were laid and more modern forms of fire detection were put into use, hundreds of other fire lookouts that were built in the 1930s and 40s simply became obsolete and fell into disuse.

Fortunately, over the last 20 years the Forestry Service began renovating a great many of the old lookouts and making them available as vacation rentals to local residents and tourists, and at
pretty reasonable prices. In the Pacific Northwest alone, the U.S. Forestry Service now rents close to 60 of these former fire lookouts, and vacationers are flocking in groves to spend a little quality time to sample history and take in some breathtaking views from the top-of-the-world cabins in the sky.

For as low as $40 a night individuals or families can escape the hustle and bustle of cell phones, computers, televisions and the madness of city life for weeks on end if they so desire and
experience the sheer wonder of the outdoors firsthand and from elevations many thousands of feet above sea level.

Though many early fire lookouts were simple scaffolds, attached precariously to trees, offering little shelter from the elements, and consisting of fragile materials that were transported to sites by mule train or truck, some of the recreational rental lookouts today are not quite so primitive although most offer very little in accommodations or amenities.

In fact, most of the lookouts throughout the Pacific Northwest are often 12 to 15 feet square in size and offer only a bed and not much more. So lookout adventurers should be prepared to bring their own sleeping equipment, food and water, and other provisions. The wonder of nature is plentiful and high up, but still these Castles In The Air are not the Waldorf Astoria!

Some of the more popular lookouts open for recreational renting in the Pacific Northwest currently, are: Hagar Mountain, Green Ridge, Pickett Butte, West Myrtle Butte, Quail Prairie, and Onion Mountain in Oregon; Burley Mountain, Clearwater, and Kloshe Nanich in the State of Washington; Arid Peak, Austin Ridge, and Shorty Peak in Idaho; and Big Creek Baldy, Garnet Mountain, Medicine Point, and Strawberry Butte in Montana.

The Warner Mountain Lookout located 14 miles south-southeast of Oakridge, Oregon in the Willamette National Forest has an elevation of 5723 feet and is really a great place to bring friends or family. This structure is a relative new one to fire lookouts, and is a superstructure that has a 1920’s vintage replica of a cupola cabin built on top. Listed on the National Historic Lookout Register and the only known example of a cupola built on such an elevated tower, it is
staffed during the summer and available for renting in the winter.

With views of the Siskiyou Wilderness and Red Buttes Wilderness, is Bolan Lookout, about 30 miles southeast of Cave Junction in southwestern Oregon. The lookout is located on ground
level and consists of a 14-by-14 foot structure and provides good shelter from the elements outside. It rents for $40 a night with a five-consecutive night limit for one to four people at a time.

Believe it or not, the Pacific Northwest even has a Fire Lookout Museum, perhaps the only one of its kind in the United States. Sponsored by the Historic Lookout Project, the museum is not
exclusive to the Pacific Northwest, but is in the business of research and maintaining collections of wildfire tools, documents and other historical objects.

The museum also strives to preserve and restore–on-site or by relocation–the many abandoned lookout structures throughout the country. Founded in 1969, the museum is located several
miles north of Spokane, Washington and is open April through October each year, with free admission to the public anytime by appointment (phone: 509-466-9171).

Lookouts and fire towers have also been featured in several television programs including Northern Exposure, MacGyver and The Red Green Show, as well as in the films Red Skies Over
Montana, Fire On Kelly Mountain, and Homeward Bound, to name just a few. Some television commercials and magazine publications also feature lookouts in their advertisements.

The lookout rental business may not have been taken up by travel agencies or the tourist industry yet. But ever since Snow Camp Lookout (near Brookings, Oregon; elevation: 4,223 feet) was the
first such structure to hit the vacation rental market back in 1990, family outings and outdoor tourism have never been so exotic nor so charged with quality time.

Hang-gliding, ski-diving and bungee-jumping over Pacific Northwest glades and peaks will perhaps remain favorite undertakings for bored vacationers and extreme sports enthusiasts alike. But recreational times are continually a’changing. And with the help of online sites, commercial advertisements and the U.S. Forestry Service, the doldrums of vacation routine have taken one
more step towards extinction.

Happy vacation life these days can be a single morning at one with nature and sharing a lazy night under the stars with love-ones while experiencing the solitude and majestic outcry of the
forest precincts. Perhaps a day or weekend atop any Castle-In-The-Air fire lookout may not get one’s blood rushing. But it is a relatively new and surefire way to take back home the experience of a lifetime.

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