If large commercial hotel chains are driving you crazy with their cookie cutter décor and blasé frequent stay programs you may want to consider the alternatives.
There are a wealth of unusual lodging establishments available across the United States that appeal to assorted niches like railroad buffs, lighthouse fans, ghost hunters, history lovers and of course nature lovers.
One of the more unusual lodging accommodations available for nature lovers are fire towers.
Traditionally used by forest rangers as observation outposts during fire season and during World War II in the search for Japanese fire balloons; they are now being converted into guest rooms for the more adventurous.
Most of the fire towers are 14 x 14 square foot in size and are rustic in design with outhouses often being located a few hundred yards downwind from the tower itself.
In the majority of cases would be fire tower guests must also be prepared to carry in their own potable water, food and other supplies.
The benefits of staying in a fire tower however, far outweigh and inconveniences. Staying in a fire station gives guests the ultimate in privacy and ready access to superlative outdoor adventures such as wildlife photography, hiking, fishing, boating and more.
What follows are brief descriptions and contact details for two of the American based fire towers that can be rented out overnight.
Bald Butte Lookout
Located in Paisley, Oregon the “Bald Butte Lookout” is perfectly situated for those would-be guests who enjoy sweeping scenic vistas, bird watching, hiking and wildflowers.
From their lofty perch guests can see the “Upper Chewaucan River Drainage Area”, “Gearhart Mountain”, “Slide Mountain”, “Yamsay Mountain”, “Sycan March” , “Lee Thomas Meadow” and the “Sprague River.”
Bald Butte Lookout Reservation Details
The “Bald Butte Lookout” management accepts overnight guests from June 15th until October 15th each year. Guests may only stay in the fire tower for a total of 14 consecutive nights.
The fire tower sleeps two people maximum and contains a double bed, table, bend, storage cabinets, propane heater, cook stove, picnic table, primitive lighting, refrigerator and an outhouse nearby.
As of 2010 the price of spending the night in “Bald Butte Lookout” is $40.00 double occupancy. There is no minimum length of stay requirement. Fire tower reservations must be made in advance. Those interested in doing so should call the park service at 1-877-444-6777.
Bald Butte Lookout Insider’s Tip
When visiting the “Bald Butte Lookout” the best places to find and photography wildflowers are usually along the “Sprague River.”
Bald Butte Lookout
Post Office Box 67
303 Highway 31
Paisley, OR 97636
Evergreen Mountain Overlook
Located 5,587 feet up on the magnificent ridges of Evergreen Mountain in Washington State is the “Evergreen Mountain Overlook.”
Guests spending the night at the “Evergreen Mountain Overlook” are afforded spectacular views of “Keyes Peak”, “Mount Daniels”, “Columbia Glacier”, and the “Henry M. Jackson Wilderness.”
The “Evergreen Mountain Overlook” is available for overnight stays from August 1st until October 15th by reservation only. The park management does on occasion allow the fire station to be rented on a walk in basis prior to and after the regular reservation season.
Off season reservations can be made through the “Skykomish Ranger Station” or through the 1-877-444-6777 number during the season.
As of 2010 overnight accommodations at the “Evergreen Mountain Overlook” is $40.00 per night with a maximum of four guests permitted.
The “Evergreen Mountain Overlook” fire tower comes with a twin bed, three extra mattresses, a table, step stool, dual twin propane lanterns, six folding chairs, twin burner propane stoves and an outhouse nearby.
Evergreen Mountain Overlook Insider’s Tip
Don’t be surprised if the locals refer to the outhouse as a “wallow-wallow.” A “wallow-wallow” is the community moniker for an outdoor toilet.
Evergreen Mountain Overlook
Post Office Box 305
Skykomish, WA 98288
As previously mentioned there are several fire stations available for overnight stays throughout the United States.
Some other such fire stations worth mentioning are the “Five Mile Butte Lookout” in Oregon, the “Gold Butte Lookout” in Oregon, the “Deadwood Lookout” in Idaho, the “Girard Ridge Lookout” in California, and the “Spruce Mountain Lookout” in Wyoming.
A good source of information on the fire stations available for rent in the Pacific Northwest of the United States is the “Pacific Northwest Regional” website. It has a very informative chart that you can download and use to compare fire station accommodations across the region.