The stark beauty and sweeping views that can be seen from a fire lookout tower are beyond compare. Largely built in the early 1900s, fire lookout towers were placed on peaks high enough to afford clear views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and the lookouts would scan for lightning strikes, smoke plumes, and any other indications of a possible fire.
Today, some of these lookouts are still standing, and Okanogan County is home to the most lookouts remaining today in Washington state, and many of them are a great hike to take on your next vacation. Discover the way fire shapes the landscape and visit these fire lookouts on your next adventure to Okanogan Country!
Starting in the Methow Valley, the most well-known fire lookouts are mainly concentrated on these surrounding peaks. Goat Peak is one of the most prominent landmarks at a whopping 7,001’ elevation. After a 1400’ elevation gain over this 3.5-mile hike, check out the stunning views and historic L-4 cab from 1950.
Mount Leecher rises to 5,020' at the lower end of the valley and currently is staffed by “Lightning Bill” Austin who has spent much of his last few decades watching over the Okanogan. One of the easier to access, the drive takes you almost to the top, with just a half-mile hike from the gate to say “Hi” to Bill!
Aptly named, Lookout Mountain holds the record for the highest number of first fire reports in the Methow. If you time this one for the summer season, the gate is normally open from Twisp and it's a fantastic 1.5-mile roundtrip family-friendly hike!
Northern Okanogan County is also home to more great fire lookouts to explore. Aeneas Mountain is located west of Tonasket and overlooks the Sinlahekin Wildlife Area from an elevation of 5,167’. Relatively pain-free to access, the road leads 5.5 miles up the northside to a 0.5-mile walk along the ridgeline to this 1980 42’ DNR style cab.
Across Highway 97 and to the eastern edge of the county, stands Mount Bonaparte. With an impressive 3,537’ of prominence and 7,258’ total elevation, Bonaparte is the 3rd highest peak in the state east of the Okanogan River. Narrowly missing the fires of 2021, the surrounding area shows a very real reflection of what could have happened to the 1914 & 1960 cabins that are both on the National Historic Lookout Registry. If you hike to this one, please be aware of the dangers of falling trees, flash floods, and etc.
It's not all rigorous hiking! We are fortunate enough to have two cabs on ground level for easy access in Okanogan Country. The 1950s Franson Peak cab was relocated in 1986 to the grassy field beside the Molson Schoolhouse Museum. Visit this classic cab, year-round Molson ghost town, and the great big schoolhouse packed full with generations of artifacts from years gone by!
Back across the county to Twisp is the other ground-level cab. A replica built with reclaimed materials, it is nestled into the Methow Valley Native Interpretive Garden at TwispWorks. Check out the art too while you’re at this unique hub, there is so much more to see!
Order a printed or digital copy of the Fire Shaped Landscape Map and discover all 25 fire lookouts of Okanogan! They are dotted all over the county and are just begging to be marked off your bucket list.
Whether you’re a history buff, an avid hiker, a wildflower lover, or any other kind of outdoor enthusiast - Okanogan Country has you covered! Loaded with outdoor recreation for every season, bring your bike, your horse, your kayak, or your fishing pole & stay awhile. Taste the flavors, enjoy the big skies, and relax. We’re here, and we’re open for adventure.