Ever since my mother worked at a lookout tower in Montana when I was 11, I’ve been a bit obsessed with them. Whenever I see one on a map, I make a plan to go see it. Sometimes they’re no longer there, sometimes they’re (rarely) still occupied with a human, and sometimes they’re for rent by the forest service! They’re never a disappointment.
My favorite are the older wooden ones, but they’re all beautiful to me. I have more marked on maps then I’ve actually visited so I’ve got some work to do, but I’ve recently taken the time to add some to my shop for other Lookout Tower appreciators to see and if they like, own a print of!
Garver Mountain Lookout, MT
Garver Mountain Lookout Tower is found in the farthest northwest corner of Montana. We took a camping trip to this area a couple summers ago with our motorcycles and rode the long dirt road up to the map marker. From there, it was on foot for over 1/4 mile, in our stiff motorcycle boots, but totally worth the trek. When we came back down to our bikes we were greeted by a curious snowshoe hare who had no fear of us and walked right up to me while standing next to my bike. A genuine northwest Montana experience, since I partially grew up there, I should know! As a kid though I never visited the Yaak area only a short distance (relatively) to my town. For some reason it was shrouded in mystery and rumors of disturbed, violent, animals, were spread around my school, but I never believed them and now it’s a favorite place of mine to visit. See the print.
Kanabownits Lookout Tower, AZ
This lookout tower we found while exploring the back roads north of the Grand Canyon in Kaibab National Forest. Very remote yet manned full time, and we were invited to make the climb and go inside.
Kaibab National Forest is one of my favorites for its sprawling dirt roads, trails, scattered campsites and cool Arizona forest trees and wildflowers. To be able to ride our motorcycles for miles down a dirt road and eventually make it to rarely seen parts of the Grand Canyon is priceless. See the print.
Jacob Lake Lookout Tower, AZ
Jacob Lake Lookout isn’t very far from the previous tower and if you’ve camped at Jacob Lake, a little way north the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, or even driven to the North Rim, you may have seen this one right next to the highway. This steel lookout tower is 80 feet tall and has a 7 foot by 7 foot steel box on top. It was erected in 1934.
It too was manned when we visited, and we were allowed inside to take a look around the vast, burnt landscape that surrounds it. Much of the forest was unfortunately burnt from a huge fire in the 90s, and again in 2020, 70 acres around Jacob Lake were burnt. We’ve camped nearby, off grid, and the area can get incredibly windy. Please be careful with your campfires! See the print.
Gardner Lookout Tower, Louisiana
Now, Louisiana is not a place I would have thought of when thinking about lookout towers, but that’s because I grew up in the mountains and thought of forest fires only really happening in forests, which were in mountains…right? And then I lived in Portland where it was too wet for fires, typically.. Until I started traveling the rest of the country and realized ho
w many forests there were, and that even when places are completely flat, they still get forest fires. The weird things your childhood logic does to your brain can be amusing, luckily traveling fixes most people’s skewed ideas about the world. Which is why it’s the best. This tower was surprisingly high but I’m having trouble finding any history or info about it unfortunately. See the print.
Lunch Peak Lookout Tower, ID
This historic tower resides high atop a mountain outside of Sandpoint Idaho in the panhandle region of the state. The drive was easier than some, but definitely took some patience. It’s no longer manned but lovingly cared for and a favorite spot for hikers and nature lovers in the area. The alpine air had fresh wildflowers and a chilling breeze to accompany the amazing view. The tower itself is only one story high due to the already vast view. Definitely a favorite, even if we didn’t get to go inside! See the print.
Blue Mountain Lookout Tower, MT
This is the one my mother worked at when I was 11. When me and my partner visited in 2012, the tower was still there and manned, but the cabin that we stayed in had burned down years before. The current worker had a travel trailer to stay in, that had been somehow hauled up the long, jack-knifed, tedious route, by the fire department. I remembered how the commute home to where we lived, on the other side of town – down and up more mountains, would have taken my mom hours for what was geographically a short distance, which is why we stayed on the mountain without going into town unless completely necessary. Somehow, we actually ran into the guy working the tower in 2012 twice in town in the month we stayed in the area. It’s a small town, but still.. We were invited to come hang out on the mountain and have a few beers and never made it unfortunately. Out giant F350 worked hard enough the first time and I had a broken leg – which sadly meant I didn’t get to go up the tower this time like I had dozens of times as a kid. Hopefully it’s a tower I’ll get to see again!
I definitely have more towers but I’m still going through old photos, negatives and editing where needed, so keep a lookout for part 2 on lookouts!