Renting Fire Lookouts in the Pacific Northwest

Five Mile Butte Lookout
Getting Your Bearings
* 20 miles west of Dufur
* 35 miles southeast of the town of Hood River
* 35 miles southwest of The Dalles
* 115 miles southeast of Portland via The Dalles
* Dufur-though only 70 miles via Highway 26

Availability: November 1 through May 31.

Capacity: Four people maximum, though two would be more comfortable. Not suitable for small children.

Description: 14x14-foot room with catwalk, atop a 30-foot tower. Storage shed with firewood and outhouse at ground level. Superb views.

Cost: $25 per night.

Reservations:Available for as many as seven consecutive nights. For an application packet, maps, and further information contact:Barlow Ranger District, PO Box 67, Dufur, OR 97021 (541)467-2291

Safety Considerations: During a typical winter it will be necessary to leave your car in a parking area and travel by skis or snowshoes the final three miles to the lookout.

Access by skis takes approximately four hours. The route is marked with orange, arrow-shaped mileage signs. Be prepared for extreme weather conditions. Always contact the Ranger District prior to your departure for the latest road and weather conditions.

Because of the height of the lookout and its open catwalk, it may be risky to bring children. The stairway and catwalk are wooden and are quite slippery in rain, snow, and ice. Occasionally, during strong winds, the tower may sway slightly. It is built to do this. It is safer to remain in the lookout than to attempt to descend the stairway during wind storms or lightning. The lookout is well-grounded. Enjoy the spectacle.

Getting There

Travel west on Dufur Valley Road from the town of Dufur for a little over 18 miles to Forest Road 4430, following the sign for RAMSEY HALL and CAMP BALDWIN. Dufur Valley Road becomes Dufur Mill Road, and then Forest Road 44. It is paved all the way.

You may park your vehicle here at the junction of Roads 4430 and 44. There are two routes from this point; one is three miles long, the other is four. The two are clearly marked, and together offer an excellent loop route to and from the lookout. (There is additional parking at Camp Baldwin, about a mile east).

To follow the first route, turn right on Forest Road 4430 for about 3/4 mile to Forest Road 120, Turn left onto Road 120, and after 1-1/2 to 2 miles, take another left onto Road 122, (not shown on map) from where you will see a green gate leading to the lookout.

The alternate route from the junction of Roads 44 and 4430 is less than four miles long, and takes you about two miles west on Road 44 (past its junction with Road 4430) to Road 120. Turn right onto Road 120 and follow this to Road 122 (not shown on map) and the green gate leading to the lookout. If you're lucky enough to be driving, neither Road 120 nor Road 122 is maintained-though they are negotiable, more or less.

Just north of Forest Road 44, on Forest Road 4430, there is a lovely campground set among tall firs, pines, and cedars stretched out languidly along Eight Mile Creek, called Eight Mile Crossing. Unfortunately, on the day we were there, there were trailers and mobile homes back to back and side to side, some of them nearly as big as an entire Irish Village.

What is Provided

The lookout is immaculately clean and newly refurbished. There is one double bed, propane cook stove and fuel, table and chairs, fire extinguisher, wood stove, firewood, shovel, a few dishes and utensils, and maps of the area. A rope-and-pulley system transports gear up to the catwalk.

The 2-way radio is to be used for emergency communications only.

What to Bring

Drinking water is a must, or the means to treat local water. Snow can be melted for your washing needs, but the Forest Service says that safe drinking water from snow cannot be assured. Extra food is a must-severe weather conditions may delay your intended departure. Prepare for harsh weather and pack accordingly.


This lookout site was established around 1930. The present cabin was built in the early 1960s. This structure is still used as a fire lookout throughout the summer months.

Seeing the Sights

Magnificent 360' views are all around you. To the north is snow-covered Mt. Adams and to the west, just 10 miles away, is Mt. Hood. A new trail now offers hikers access to the lookout from Eight Mile Creek.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication



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