Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cinnamon lookout ...

In early twentieth-century Montana, fire prevention was considered a keystone of forest management, and hundreds of fire lookout towers were built in the state. Most were small, box-like structures erected on mountaintops, containing a single, fully-windowed room where someone would live throughout the fire season, looking for wisps of smoke. The idea behind all that always appealed to me, living alone on a mountaintop with a stellar view.

Most of the old lookout towers are gone now, of course, done in by aircraft fire surveillance and other factors. A handful of the Montana lookouts are still staffed, though, and a few dozen others still stand, either empty or reused as vacation rentals. Most are in the heavily-forested northwestern part of the state.

This is a shot I took in 2002 of the Cinnamon Mountain lookout, located south of Big Sky on the Gallatin National Forest, at the end of a 3-1/2 mile trail. The building has sat empty and shuttered since the 1960s, but the view is still phenomenal as ever.


  1. I'd like to do one as avacation rental sometime

  2. Yeah, me too ... there's something extremely compelling about those places. I've rented Forest Service cabins before, but never one of the lookouts.

    After I hiked to this one, I sent the info to members of the Forest Fire Lookout Association, and they contacted the forest to ask about the possibility of opening this one for rental use. But the government didn't have the funds for needed structural repairs to make it happen ...