Added by Clare Healy

Enjoy beautiful 360 degree lookouts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The low-light pollution provides amazing night skies.

I think all explorers agree there is nothing more serene than being surrounded by nothing but wilderness. If you are one of these said explorers, a trip to Calpine's fire lookout is a must.

Calpine is a forest fire lookout tower that was constructed in 1934 and is one of 3 remaining examples of the enclosed windmill-style lookout in California. The lookout was actively used every summer until 1975, opening up for public rental in 2005. The historic lookout sits at an elevation of 5,980 feet in the vast, tree-filled Sierra Nevada Mountains of Tahoe National Forest, approximately 40 miles from Truckee, California.

From a plethora of hiking, mountain biking, and snow-shoeing trails to a fire pit and board games, this lookout has all one needs for a weekend away from reality during all seasons. The Pacific Crest Trail can even be accessed 20 miles away while Gold Lake and Sand Pond are both within short driving distance. If you are weathered in like we were, you will love the quirky books and games provided, the journals flooded with notes and drawings from past visitors, and the antique lookout equipment, manuals, and maps.

During heavy winter snow, visitors must be ready to hike from the main road to the lookout, but the road is typically open during other seasons. Despite hitting wailing winds and hefty hail throughout most of our stay, the incomprehensible views from the lookout kept us in awe of the experience.

The interior of the lookout measures 14' by 14', has 2 single beds, a dry sink, a table, 4 chairs, and propane-powered appliances like lights, a stove/oven, and a fireplace. There are also a limited assortment of pots, pans, and cooking utensils. An accessible pit toilet and a picnic table and fire ring are located outside the lookout (firewood is not provided).

To get here from Truckee, head north on the 89 for about 33 miles and look for the turn onto Calpine Co. Road. Follow to the end or park at the turnout if the road is closed for the winter.

Read More

Tags

Chillin
Camping
Photography
Snowshoeing
Hiking
Bathrooms
Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Romantic
Scenic
Wildlife

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

Calpine Co Road

Calpine Lookout

Overview Calpine is a forest fire lookout tower that was constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, and is one of three remaining examples of the enclosed windmill-style lookout in Cal...

Calpine, California

Yuba Pass Campground

Overview Yuba Pass Campground is located in the North Yuba River area, atop Yuba Pass on Highway 49. Visitors enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities in the area, including birding, hiking,...

Calpine, California

Chapman

Overview Chapman Creek Campground is located next to Chapman Creek, near the North Yuba River. Visitors enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities in the area, including hiking, mountain bikin...

Beckwourth, California

Lost Sierra Base Camp

This campsite offers amazing views of Beckwourth Peak and is a biking/hiking paradise! Mountain bike, Road bike, Gravel bike, Electric bike, Kids bikes, Adaptive bikes. We have trails for everyone!...

From $100/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Gold Lakes, Sierra Buttes, 45mi

    If you never travel north of the Tahoe Basin into the Sierra Valley and beyond, you should. It is gorgeous, peaceful country, with wide open spaces and, compared to Tahoe, relatively uncrowded roads. This loops takes us from Bassett’s Station towa...

  • Camp at Salmon Creek Campground

    Salmon Creek Campground is a quiet campground in the Northern Sierra Buttes. Since it is right up the road from Sardine Lakes it seems to get overlooked a bit. We were able to reserve three campsites the same week of our trip. There were 11 to cho...

  • Hike the Sierra Buttes and Sardine Lakes

    The Sierra Buttes are one of the most scenic mountain features in all of the Sierra Nevadas. Nestled below the buttes are Upper and Lower Sardine lakes which both offer amazing fishing. Sardine Lake Resort lies at the base of the mountains and off...

  • Hike to Frazier Falls

    Frazier Falls is the ultimate family hike. Because the paved trail is only a mile long round trip, this trail is open to nearly anyone. Because of its relativly easy access and family friendly nature, this trail can get busy during the summer mo...

    1 miles 1 ft gain