The first dedicated fire lookout tower was erected in 1909 on Mount Morris, New York, after nearly one million acres of the Adirondacks were burned by wildfires in 1903 and 1908. The lookouts soon opened to overnight visitors, who left their impressions in guest books that still exist today. In the age of drones and satellites, many fire lookouts have deteriorated or been taken down, but some are still in operation. Yet others, particularly in the Mountain West, have been converted into overnight lodging, and as those guest books attest, they’re among the most engaging places you could enjoy a weekend wilderness escape. Here are some of our favorites.
What to bring when staying in a fire lookout: water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning; food; toiletries; campsite cooking and eating supplies; warm clothes; binoculars; first aid supplies; and a sleeping bag.