Boise National Forest Fire Lookouts

The Thorn Creek Butte lookout has seen better days but the view is still spectacular.

Fire Lookouts are a great way to experience the mountain world. I just discovered a Boise National Forest brochure (linked below) that covers most of the existing fire lookouts on the forest and provides brief access information for each. (All of these mountains have pages on this website.) Fire lookout sites were chosen because of their commanding views. You will find on a visit to any of these lookouts that the Forest Service choose well. The views are uniformly impressive.

Use the link below to read the entire brochure. Courtesy of USFS.

Boise National Forest brochure link: Sentries at the Skyline

I would note that I believe the Forest Service has underestimated the difficulties of most of the access roads. I recommend a 4WD or at least a high clearance vehicle with good all terrain tires if you are going to visit any of these lookouts.

In addition to the manned lookouts the brochure also lists five unmanned lookouts: Bear Valley Mountain, Thorn Creek Butte, Meadow CreekRice Peak and Swanholm Peak. (Photos and links are found below.) The lookout structures are still present on these mountains but they are no longer used. Many other mountains in the Boise National Forest were used as fire lookouts in the past. You can research these and many others at firelookouts.com.

The brochure also mentions the Deadwood Lookout but gives no directions. Deadwood Lookout is available to rent through recreation.gov. Be forewarned this rental is extremely popular. You will need to reserve many months in advance.

Finally, the brochure does not include Shafer Butte (at the center of the Bogus Basin Ski Resort), Hawley Mountain (near Horseshoe Bend) and Pilot Peak (near Idaho City). These lookouts offer great views and are also worth visiting.

Trinity Mountain from Peak 8554.

Trinity Mountain from Peak 8554.

Trinity Mountain link.

The Sunset lookout on January 17th, 2015.

The Sunset lookout on January 17th, 2015.

Sunset Mountain link.

The Scott Mountain lookout has a commanding view. The view of the Sawtooths is outstanding.

The Scott Mountain lookout has a commanding view. The view of the Sawtooths is outstanding.

Scott Mountain link.

A closer view of the Thinder Mountain lookout from the trail.

A closer view of the Thinder Mountain lookout from the trail.

Thunderbolt Mountain link.

In addition to the large lookout, there is a large garage like structure on the summit. The lookout was staffed in 2016.

In addition to the large Jackson Peak lookout, there is a large garage like structure on the summit. The lookout was staffed in 2016.

Jackson Peak link.

The Silver Creek Lookout sits in the middle of steep county studded with granite outcropping.

The Silver Creek Lookout sits in the middle of steep county studded with granite outcropping.

Silver Creek link.

The Deadwood Lookout is located due south of the Bog Benchmark. Make sure after you tag the summit to continue on to the lookout for a great view. The lookout is availabile for overnight rentals.

The Deadwood Lookout is located due south of the Bog Benchmark. Make sure after you tag the summit to continue on to the lookout for a great view. The lookout is availabile for overnight rentals.

Deadwood Lookout link.

The Meadow Creek Lookout in 2012. National Historic Lookout Registry Photo

The Meadow Creek Lookout in 2012. National Historic Lookout Registry Photo

Meadow Creek Lookout link.

Rice Peak in happier days. USFS Photo

Rice Peak in happier days. USFS Photo

Rice Peak link.

Bear Valley Mountain summit contains one of the scariest fire lookouts I have visited.

Bear Valley Mountain summit contains one of the scariest fire lookouts I have visited.

Bear Valley Mountain link.

The Thorn Creek Butte lookout has seen better days but the view is still spectacular.

The Thorn Creek Butte lookout has seen better days but the view is still spectacular.

Thorn Creek Butte link.

The Whitehawk Lookout has ot all.

The Whitehawk Lookout has ot all.

Whitehawk link.

The old Shafer Butte fire lookout sits just north of the high point.

The old Shafer Butte fire lookout sits just north of the high point.

Shafer Butte link.

The summit of Hawley Mountain. Dan Robbins Photo

The summit of Hawley Mountain. Dan Robbins Photo

Hawley Mountain link.