There’s something magical about coming up on “your” lookout on the top of a mountain. Sometimes you can see the lookout in the distance as you’re hiking, and it slowly, slowly, gets closer.
But other times, particularly if you can drive to the lookout, you come up on it suddenly – a wonderful little surprise. That’s the case with the Monument Peak Lookout. After miles on increasingly rough roads, the last 1/2 mile track heads straight uphill. When you top the last pitch, the lookout appears: a tightly shuttered little treasure box perched on top of the world.
Once the shutters are open, it looks just like the jewelry box that sat on my dresser when I was growing up.
Monument Peak Lookout is located in the Little Belt Mountains in central Montana, not far from the old mining town of Neihart. Unlike the other two lookouts that we’ve rented (and written about here), you can drive to Monument Peak. It’s about 25 miles of gravel road, and the last four miles is fairly rough, but driving means you can pack in all the water and heavy snacks you want, which is quite a luxury.
The lookout was originally on a tower, but in 1998 the Forest Service took it off its “legs” and restored it. I’ve searched for photographs off the “de-towering” process, but haven’t found any. How do you think they did it? I’m guessing they hauled a crane way up there, but maybe they used a helicopter? Would loved to have been there to see the action.
Once the shutters are up, it’s the perfect hideaway, with nothing to do but explore, cook some good food, and sit on the porch and watch the sun set.
What a perfect place to stay! I have been to Neihart many times, and love that area. Beautiful photos.
Thanks. We tend not to go that direction so much, but it really is gorgeous.
Seriously lovely. My favorite lookout so far is at High Rock (in southwestern WA), which is accessible only by a last-few-feet steep-ish scramble up the rock, but has panoramic views over the region’s mountains and ohhhhh, it’s beautiful!
I just looked up High Rock Lookout – holy cow! It’s on my list now, for sure. Thanks for the tip.
That cabin is sure in nice condition! Last week I visited an L-4 just like that on Cougar Peak here along the lower Clark Fork. It was a rental too for several years and has just been renovated. I’m so happy when I see one in that condition!
Just looked up the Cougar Peak Lookout…definitely will visit there next summer. I was trying to figure out how the shutters are secured – do you remember how they went up? I didn’t see any supports in the photos.
I didn’t look at it that closely but I’ve looked at some photos I took of the cabin and I can’t see any supports either. Now I wonder! There must be a good system o some kind though because thee’s always a wind up there.
That looks like a wonderful place to get away and enjoy some hiking.
Absolutely. Lots of exploring possibilities around there.
Gorgeous place. I have only been to one lookout, over in Idaho called Salmon Mountain. It’s still functional (due to volunteers) and was wonderful to visit.
I posted a visit to a similar lookout back in July — http://kenneturner.com/2012/07/25/a-visit-to-the-lemmon-rock-lookout-in-the-catalina-mountains/
Oh yes, I enjoyed that post. I especially liked that it is still a working lookout; there don’t seem to be many of them left.
My husband and I manned this lookout in 1966 or 67. It was a wet summer and so we mainly played a lot of cribbage, but a great summer with an amazing view.
That’s so interesting – I’m glad you found the post. How high off the ground was the lookout then? Did you end spend any other summers at lookouts?
A little slow to respond, but just saw this. That was the only summer we spent on a lookout because we soon moved to Alaska. I think it was 50 or 55 feet higher. We had a fantastic view. Thank you so much for posting this, it brought back many good memories. It was a great spot for blue grouse, my favorite bird of all. I also include a tiny bit about it in my book of Alaska stories, so thanks for the reminder.
I love that place!
What a brilliant spot! Love it!
It is pretty amazing. Thanks.
I didn’t know you could rent these~how cool is that?! It does look just like a jewelbox.
Renting these is great fun! You can also rent Forest Service cabins. It’s a great program. Thanks!
Do you know if a Rav4 is good enough to access the area?
Do you need to bring your own propane tanks? Do you know if it’s still available for reservations, it says in google that it is permanently closed.
Sorry, I don’t know about it being closed. You could try calling the Forest Service office on White Sulphur Springs to check. They could tell about the road condition now too.
Hello…not sure if you’re still responding…but I’ll give it a shot. I’m planning to stay at Monument Peak Lookout in a couple of weeks and was wondering if you could tell me a little about the shutters. How difficult/heavy are they and could one person (female-5’5″, 120 lb-in pretty good physical condition) handle them alone? Bob, the park ranger in White Sulphur Springs, said he thought they might weigh around 25 lbs.–but he didn’t sound as if he was real sure about it ;). Any info would be greatly appreciated! Phyllis
My recollection (rather fuzzy at this point) is that they were a bit awkward, but I think you should be able to get them up and down. My husband was with me, so we both worked on getting them up, but I don’t remember it being particularly difficult. Sorry I can’t be more help! Hope it works out for you.
Thank you very much for responding, I do appreciate the info! Phyllis