Fire Lookouts Program

Majestic views, solitude, and quiet, heroic vigilance—the seven fire lookouts of the San Bernardino National Forest capture a romantic part of California’s past. The Southern California Mountains Foundation proudly oversees its preservation.

The earliest known fire lookout was built approximately 2,000 years ago on Mount Masada, west of the Dead Sea in present-day Israel. King Herod’s army used it to protect against his enemies who were setting fires in Israel. The first known fire lookout in the United States was built on Red Mountain near Donner Summit in 1876. The Southern Pacific Railroad used it to watch for train fires.

Over the next century, the prevalence of fire lookouts followed the ebbs and flows of the nation. Improved building standards facilitated the construction of hundreds of lookouts, 600 in California alone, but growth and urbanization introduced aircraft and technology that made them nearly obsolete. Most have been lost to fire, vandalism, and removal.

UPDATE: Due to COVID-19, the Fire Lookouts are closed to the public until further notice.

Donate Now to Support the Fire Lookouts Program

Your donation will help protect Public Lands for everyone, now and for the future.

Each year our programs have a positive impact on Public Lands!

What We Have Done:

114


Smoke Plumes Reported

6,423


Visitors

22,412


Volunteer Hours

What’s Happening with the Fire Lookouts

Explore Our Seven Lookouts

Fire lookout towers on the San Bernardino National Forest are staffed by dedicated volunteers and open to the public spring-fall annually. We invite you to visit any or all of these special towers to view the forest from the mountaintop.

Due to COVID-19, the Lookouts are closed to the public until further notice. 

Black Mountain | Butler Peak | Keller Peak | Morton Peak | Red Mountain | Strawberry Peak | Tahquitz Peak
Become a Lookout Host

Fire Lookout towers on the San Bernardino National Forest are open to the public Spring – Fall annually. Hosts talk about the history of the tower, give tours and answer questions.

Get the Lookout Experience

Coming Summer 2019 – Get an amazingly unique experience by staying overnight in one of our historic Fire Lookout towers on the San Bernardino National Forest. If you don’t mind packing in your own gear and staying on top of the world, try renting Morton Peak lookout!

Coming Summer 2021

Donate Now to Support the Fire Lookouts Program

Your donation will help protect Public Lands for everyone, now and for the future.

Partners Make it Possible

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