For a Unique Getaway, Rent a Fire Lookout Tower
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A Unique Getaway: Fire Lookout Towers

Sky-high views and rustic accommodations... What could be better?

Written by David Woods
A Timber Frame Fire Tower
Photo: Heidi Long / This tower's not for rent (sadly!) but is instead one family's genius fire-tower-inspired getaway. See the full tour here.
If you want to truly experience a few nights in complete isolation, a fire lookout tower could provide just that. Most have no wi-fi, electricity or even running water, and they offer very few basic facilities.
However, the views and wilderness that these towers have to offer are second to none.
Built as a response to the 1910 forest fires in Idaho and Montana, these towers were part of a network of lookouts to spot and eliminate fires quickly. Nowadays, the towers have mostly been made redundant due to much more sophisticated methods of detecting and tracking forest fires.
Some of the towers still open during the fire season and are staffed by volunteers and forestry students as part of their training, while others are used as scenic viewpoints. But a few special towers are rented out to the public for as little as $40 per night.
If you’re looking for a unique experience where you can be guaranteed idyllic views, undisturbed peace and quiet, and a few nights surrounded by wilderness, then this is the ultimate getaway. You can rent these historic fire lookout cabins through the National Recreation Reservation System, but they are extremely popular to book so you’ll need to be quick!
Make sure you check what amenities the tower has, as you’ll likely need to bring some of your own equipment. Most towers have a bed, a propane stove and table and chairs as a bare minimum. It should be noted these retreats are often in remote settings which can be tricky to access physically and logistically.
However, if you’re up for a little adventure, a weekend in a lookout tower might be just the fix.

Preparing for Your Stay

To thoroughly enjoy the experience of staying in one of these historical rentals, you’ll want to make sure you take all the right equipment:
  • Cooking equipment: Think plates, utensils, pans, mugs, etc.
  • Water: Take enough for all your drinking, cooking and cleaning needs.
  • Trash bags: Most cabins require you to take all your garbage with you when you leave.
  • Bedding: Make sure you bring plenty of warm clothing too if you’re staying over the winter.
  • Lanterns and matches: Some cabins don’t have any electricity.
  • First aid kit: You never know when you might need it
  • Toilet paper and all the toiletries you’ll need
  • Cleaning products: Most facilities ask that you clean on departure and leave the tower as you found it.
You’ll also need to look at how the tower is accessed, many of them cannot be reached by cars and require a trek or even a snowmobile! Find out if there are any cabins available to rent in your area here.

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