In their heyday during the 1930's there were over 8,000 fire lookouts that dotted mountain tops across the United States with over 600 in California.

Today there are only a few hundred in operation. Once considered a proud symbol of our nation's conservation heritage, fire lookouts are a fading legacy.

I hope you enjoy my photos and stories about visiting these lookouts and I bet you will get inspired to visit one yourself!  I encourage you to also learn more about them and support preserving these historic treasures.

Sequoia National Forest Lookouts

Baker Point Lookout
Bald Mountain Lookout
Blue Ridge Lookout
Breckenridge Lookout
Buck Rock Lookout
Jordan Peak Lookout
Mule Peak Lookout
The Needles Lookout
Tobias Peak Lookout

San Bernardino National Forest Lookouts

Keller Peak Lookout
Strawberry Peak Lookout
Morton Peak Lookout
Cajon Mountain Lookout
Black Mountain Lookout

Stanislaus National Forest

Smith Peak Lookout

Medicine Bow National Forest Lookouts

Spruce Mountain Lookout
Kennaday Peak Lookout

Marin County

Mt. Tamalpais Lookout

Palomar Mountain State Park

Boucher Hill Lookout

Isle Royale National Park

Ishpeming Point

Needles Fire Lookout Tower Destroyed :(

"The Needles Fire Lookout Tower, one of the most popular places to visit on the Western Divide Ranger District in Sequoia National Forest, was destroyed by a fire Thursday.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but it was determined that the blaze was not in any way related to the Lion Fire that is currently burning in the Golden Trout Wilderness.

There was a U.S. Forest Service employee stationed in the tower, but the employee was able to get out before the lookout was engulfed by flames.

A wildland fire resulted from the burning debris that fell from the tower. The status of that fire was unknown as of press time, but crews were on the scene.

This is a tragic loss to the district, District Ranger Priscilla Summers said. I'm relieved the person staffing the lookout tower was able to safely evacuate the tower before it burned.

Built in 1937-38 by the Civilian Conservation Corps atop the Needles rock formation at 8,245 feet, Needles Lookout overlooked the Kern River Drainage, Mt. Whitney, Olancha Peak, Farewell Gap and Dome Rock. The 14-foot-by-14-foot wooden tower was the primary communication line for people in the backcountry where cell phones do not work.

The tower served as a USFS employee's office and home for the summer months while the lookout was on duty. The employee was responsible for detecting fires and relaying radio messages to the dispatcher, who in turn sent firefighters and support equipment to extinguish the reported fire."


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Only 198 of California's 625 fire lookout towers remain
Forest Fire Lookout Association
Buck Rock Foundation
Why does California still have manned fire lookouts in the age of cell phones and cameras?
Fire Lookouts of the Northwest
The US Forest Service lookouts watching for fires
The Lookout (Zeke Lunder)
Needles Lookout
A Fire Lookout On What's Lost In A Transition To Technology