Type: L-4 ground cabin
Visited: June 29 – July 3, 2022
We rented the Drake Peak lookout for three nights, our first time there. (An odd note for 2022: The Fremont-Winema National Forest has a bizarre policy in place this season where the lookout can only be rented Wednesday night through Saturday night, with Sunday through Tuesday nights blocked out and unavailable in order to “clear the air” or some nonsense like that. There was probably more risk of disease from all the dead flies than from a possibly-infected person with COVID from the day before. We were unable to use Wednesday night but Recreation.gov wouldn’t let us cancel it, so we just ate the money for that night.) Anyway, if you plan to rent this cabin see my notes at the end.
Commonly (and mistakenly) called Drake’s Peak, Drake Peak is in the Warner Mountains near Lakeview, Oregon. Fun fact: it is the highest lookout in Oregon that you can drive to.
Another fun fact: the lookout is not actually located on Drake Peak. It is located on a ridge west of Light Peak. (The “Drake 8325” note on Light Peak on the map below is for the USGS survey marker on Light Peak):
Here is the view from Twelvemile Peak to the north. Drake Peak on the left, Light Peak just right of center. The lookout is located at the far right end of the ridge at the right side of the photo, just above the snow you see:
The road to the lookout is in great shape. This is a picture I took going down near the summit:
This lookout is a ground cabin with no deck or catwalk:
The interior of the cabin:
On a clear day the views from here are great. Looking south:
Crane Mountain to the south:
Looking west at Cougar Peak:
Looking northwest at Abert Rim:
Looking north at Twelvemile, McDowell, and Crook Peaks:
No views to the east? Nope, not from the cabin. See my photos from Light Peak below to get a sense of what lies to the east.
Saturday night we storm clouds. It was VERY windy with 22 MPH winds, but the clouds looked pretty cool:
We had some pretty great sunsets up here:
Even though Lakeview is nearby it’s a small town that doesn’t put out a lot of light pollution so the stars were great:
While staying here we explored nearby Light Peak. A road goes up to the top but even if we had wanted to drive the road was blocked by snow and downed trees:
The summit was VERY VERY windy:
Looking back to the lookout:
That is the true Drake Peak to the east:
There’s a two-track that goes part of the way over to Drake, and then you could hike cross-country the rest of the way up to the summit, but it was too windy for that:
Looking east from Light Peak:
This lookout felt a little more rundown and grimy compared to other lookouts I’ve rented. It needed a new paint job, a thorough cleaning inside, and some window-washing:
If you rent Drake Peak
- Facilities: The cabin is equipped with a propane cookstove/oven, a wood stove, a table, four chairs, two propane lights on the walls (one was broken), and four cots. Several people mentioned in the logbook how difficult the cots were to set up. Fortunately two of them were already assembled when we arrived. There were also various plates, bowls, pots, pans, etc. but we brought our own so I cannot attest to their cleanliness. Outside there is a picnic table and a vault toilet.
- Firewood: No firewood is provided so bring your own. There is a fire ring outside for a campfire if there’s no fire ban in effect.
- Flies: When we arrived there were hundreds of dead flies on the floor. This is no fault of the past renters, it’s just a fact of this location and is mentioned numerous times in the logbooks. There were fly strips hanging from the ceiling and a fly swatter available. It was a constant battle.
- Road access: See below for directions. The Forest Service website says “The last five miles are known for dips, bumps, and boulders on a rough road and may require a four-wheel drive vehicle.” This is incorrect. The road is actually in really good shape and is drivable in any vehicle. There are no parts so steep that you would need 4WD, except if there was snow on the ground.
- Water: As usual there is no water on site, however as mentioned above there is potable water available at nearby Mud Creek Campground, which is convenient.
- Visitors: The road has not gate, so expect visitors. We were gone during the day so I don’t know how many people drove up, but we only had visitors one of the three evenings we were there and they didn’t stay long.
- Signal: We had a good Verizon signal at this location.
- Weather: This is one of the most exposed lookouts I’ve ever stayed at, with zero protection from sun and wind. Prepare accordingly.
- The website states “Still featured in the lookout is an Osborne Firefinder, a large disk with map and compass directions.” This is incorrect. The firefinder is no longer in the cabin.
From Highway 140 turn north onto Road 3615. Drive 6.7 miles to the turnoff for Drake Peak. (The email we got said to drive 7.5 miles. This is incorrect.) Turn right onto Road 019, a good gravel road, and drive 5.3 miles up to the cabin. The Forest Service website says “The last five miles are known for dips, bumps, and boulders on a rough road and may require a four-wheel drive vehicle.” This is incorrect.
Drake Peak was named for John M. Drake, an officer in several campaigns against the Snake Indians.
In 1926 a D-6 cupola cabin was built:
A road was built to the lookout in 1927. The first cabin was replaced by an L-4 cabin in 1948, which is the cabin that sits there today:
According to this site “A D-6 cupola cabin was built atop Light Peak 1/2 mile to the northeast in 1926. In 1948 it was decided a lookout on Drake Peak would work better, so this L-4 cab was constructed.” However I can find no evidence of that. First of all the photo above shows the 1948 cabin being constructed right next to the 1926 cabin. In addition, the 1932 Forest Service map shows the first lookout located west of Light Peak, not on Light Peak (Light Peak isn’t labeled as such on this map, but the Drake 8318 survey marker is where it is):
Two years later the 1934 panorama photos are taken from the current lookout site, not on Light Peak: