July 17-20, 2020
Our stay at Up Up Lookout in Montana’s Lolo National Forest was originally supposed to be the first part of a longer trip that included Missoula, backpacking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and visiting both Glacier and Waterton National Parks. And then the pandemic hit. We decided a busy national park was not a good idea this summer, and it turned out that the entire east side of the park (which was the only part we had planned on visiting) was closed anyway. We had also planned to cross into Canada to visit Waterton Lakes National Park, and we obviously couldn’t do that. We scrapped nearly our entire itinerary, but since the Forest Service didn’t cancel our lookout reservation, we incorporated that into a revised trip.
On Friday we drove to the lookout from Portland and arrived just before sunset. After exiting the freeway and driving 11 miles on forest roads, there is a gate about three miles before the lookout, although OHVs have created a big detour through the forest to get around the gate. (We would read in the logbook that previous renters had a lot of problems with unwelcome visitors driving in.)
The parking area below the lookout:
We were delighted to discover a nice picnic table and fire ring here. This was most welcome since we planned to do all our cooking down by the car instead of lugging our stove, food, water, pots, utensils, etc. up the tower.
The toilet is just down the road a short ways:
From the parking area there’s a nice path:
Then some stairs:
And of course more stairs to the top of the 40′ tower:
The inside of the cabin was REALLY nice. They did a restoration a few years ago and everything was in really great shape. The furniture was all beautifully finished and the paint on the cabin wasn’t chipped and peeling like it is at many lookouts.
The bed is a single but there were cots available so we set one of those up, although it was quite tricky to figure out:
We were dismayed to see that someone had vandalized the railing outside the front door:
It’s always cool when the old firefinder is still in place:
There are views in all directions. South:
We decided to have a small campfire the final night:
We saw some nice sunsets during out stay, especially the last night:
When I made this reservation in January I picked dates that worked, which just happened to coincide with a new moon. Always nice when that happens since it means good star-gazing. The fact that Comet NEOWISE was visible was a big bonus:
The lookout had these very nice gas lamps that gave a cozy glow:
Numerous people mentioned in the logbook about seeing wildlife around the lookout. Several people mentioned seeing moose! We only saw birds and a golden mantled ground squirrel. We very much enjoyed our stay here!
By the way, after our lookout trip we headed to the Selkirks. Here are those posts: