Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout

Not to brag or anything lol, but most of the time I pride myself on knowing of most cool experiences that exist in Colorado (thanks to a lot of time spent researching online), but every now and then we learn of something neat from word of mouth.

One of Jeb’s former coworkers at Platte Canyon told us about this really unique experience where you can spend the night in a fire lookout tower!

This is so unique because only 1 group (of up to 4 people) can rent it per night. Which means it is not easy to get a reservation! You can book it (and have to if you want availability) 6 months in advance. Usually 2 minutes past the time the reservation opens up, it is already booked!

I tried for a while before I was finally successful in booking us a reservation. And for a Saturday night too yet! We had to wait 6 months before it was time to go, but I was already excited.

Since it is a fire lookout tower- obviously it has a really amazing view. It is located at 11,486 feet, and you can see so far in every single direction. The lookout has two floors. The upstairs has windows all around it to see out from. The downstairs is a little bit more like a cave, and just has one small window. So we decided to sleep upstairs since we wanted to wake up for sunrise anyways.

The hike in the summer to get to the tower is one mile, and in the winter it is two miles. We just barely caught it where it was still possible to get to the summer trailhead and only have to hike 1 mile. It is an easy hike because you are just hiking up a dirt road, but it is still pretty steep and ascends quite a bit!

From the fire lookout you could see six 14ers (at least 6 that we could for sure identify). You can see Bierstadt and Evans (the closest ones), Pikes Peak, Gray’s and Torrey’s, and Longs Peak. You can also see Denver and the entire front range.

The lookout tower has beds, a fridge, microwave, oven, stove, and heat! So other than the bathroom situation (outside incinerating toilet- that was super confusing) you really aren’t roughing it too much up here. We woke up at 6am to watch the sunrise.

Since we arrived before sunset we saw all times of the day, full daylight, sunset, sunrise, and night time. I should have tried to take a picture at night but forgot! It was so amazingly beautiful because in one direction was just total darkness and in the other was all the city lights of the entire front range.

Sleeping in the lookout tower honestly freaked me out a little bit! Because I knew we were the only ones there but I felt so exposed! By being at the top of this huge mountain in a room with glass windows all around us, I felt like anyone could see us, even though I knew this wasn’t the case lol.

The one bummer of the view is that the power lines are kind of in the way and hard to crop out for the sake of pictures.

Since it wasn’t that far of a hike, and we didn’t need to bring things like a tent or cooking supplies, we loaded up our packs with things like a small speaker for music, the ipad with a downloaded movie, food to cook a pretty fancy meal, and a book to read! These are luxuries that you would never bring on a serious backpacking trip.

We definitely, 100% will be back here someday. We would like to come back sometime in the heart of winter when it is completely snowy. It would be awesome to hike up and then ski back down to the car! We read in the visitor log that someone was up there one time when it was 10 below zero outside!

In the morning we stood outside in the sun and drank our coffee on the deck and looked out towards the mountains. I think this was my favorite part of the whole experience. 🙂

I love that Colorado has such unique experiences like this one! I would definitely recommend this to anyone that appreciates a good view!


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