Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout

Idaho Springs, Colorado

based on 2 reviews



3.92 miles

Elevation Gain

791 ft

Route Type



Added by Matthew Eaton

You'll catch amazing views at the peak of Squaw Mountain sitting at 11,486 ft. There's no water or pets at this location, but there is an exterior composting toilet.

Come check out the Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout, a historic spot located in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area of Colorado, and one of the highest lookout towers in the country, at an elevation of 11,486 ft. Just a short drive from the Front Range corridor, you can hike/backpack in to this lookout area. The Civilian Conservation Corp constructed this lookout and it remains an active communication tower to this day.

To get there from Denver, head west on I-70, exit Evergreen Parkway, and drive south to the 4th stoplight, where you turn right onto Squaw Pass Road. The turnoff for Forest Road 192.1 is 12 miles from there. In the summer you can drive one mile up the road to the locked gate, but I prefer to hike from the main road, and in the winter this is your only option. Hike or snowshoe up the road for one mile to the locked gate. Bypass the gate and continue another mile to the Lookout Tower.

For added adventure year round, you can stay overnight inside the tower. Reservations are required and can be made ahead of time by visiting recreation.gov. Otherwise, there is no camping permitted at the lookout.

As this is an alpine hike, always be prepared for unexpected storms which occur frequently in the Rockies.

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Squaw Mountain Fire Lookout Reviews

The hike is short and I'd rate it as easy to moderate. No snowshoes needed as there wasn't enough snow when I did it, but I did use micro spikes after a nice couple at the trailhead told me it was icy in spots. I downgraded the hike because I couldn't go up to the fire lookout since it was occupied for the evening. Next time I'd like to go up at sunrise (when not in use) OR rent the fire lookout myself. I've always wanted to stay in one.

We parked at the gate to shave off time in the afternoon in case a storm blew in. You hike up a road and it's a steady slope the whole way up. There is little sun cover from trees, but you are high enough for heat to not be too big of an issue. At the top, the wind was really blowing. The views are phenomenal and the lookout at the top looks a pretty nice place to stay for $80/night if you could have another 3 people pitch in to split it. Be aware that close to the turn off Squaw Pass Road there are a couple places that are frequently used for shooting practice.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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