These abandoned lookouts offer great views.
While the term “fire tower” may bring to mind something ominous, they are actually an intriguing and unique way to stay in one of the fantastic areas maintained by the U.S. Forest Service.
These towers, generally set atop a mountain or another high vantage point, gained popularity in the early 1900s to keep an eye out for forest fires. However, by the end of the century, parks began using more high-tech methods to watch over their land and the towers were phased out.
The buildings still remain, though, and many are available for rent. They can be found all over the country, with the exception of Kansas (which never established fire lookout points).
There’s just one catch to renting out a fire tower: They’re pretty stark. While some may have mattresses, tables chairs or a stove, others may have nothing. Guests will need to bring their own water, firewood and bedding or sleeping bags. And there’s generally no electricity.
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For those who don’t mind roughing it in exchange for fantastic views, the fire towers are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact the National Recreation Reservation System to rent one for your next trip.