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Creative Family Ideas in the Pacific Northwest

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Up Up Fire Lookout | Montana Family Camping Adventure

Did you know you can often find many cool places to explore close to home? We had an awesome time camping at Up Up Fire Lookout in Montana! We stayed in this 40-foot wooden tower for one night with our 3 kids. Up Up Lookout is located about 2 hours from our house in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana, just across the Idaho border. Here are the highlights of our adventurous campout!

When we first got to Up Up Lookout, we were surprised to see exactly how tall 40 feet is! This fire lookout has a wood spiral staircase that keeps going up, up, up! The fire lookout also has a basic wooden railing that runs up the stairs and around the upper deck. We quickly established some safety rules for our kids. For example, they could only go up and down the stairs with an adult. We also didn’t allow our kids to play on the wrap-around deck without supervision.

Camping with kids at Up Up Lookout in Montana

Our kids wasted no time exploring the rocks and forest around the fire lookout. We all wore protective hiking shoes and brought hats and hoodies. Before the sky got too dark, we brought our camping gear up the stairs and set up our beds with pillows and sleeping bags.

Family camping trip Up Up Lookout in Montana

Fire Lookout Camping Gear

We brought some very helpful camping gear to this fire lookout overnight. First, we brought a pillow and sleeping bag for each person, along with a few extra blankets. We also brought a 5-gallon camping toilet, which was very helpful for the kids during the night. Otherwise, we would have had to help our kids climb down and back up the stairs in the middle of the night, to use the nearby outhouse.

Family Camping List

  • Pillows, sleeping bags, blankets
  • Extra change of clothes
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, wipes, lotion
  • Water bottles
  • 5-gallon camping toilet
  • Hats, hoodies, hiking shoes
  • Firepit food: hot dogs, buns, marshmallows, chips

Camping gear in a fire lookout

Even bringing minimal camping gear for our family of 5 still adds up! We hauled up 5 pillows, sleeping bags, and our bucket camp toilet up the stairs to Up Up Lookout.

The inside of the lookout cabin was cozy, with windows all around, a twin bed and plenty of floor space. Our kids were eager to set up their beds. Watch the video at the beginning of this post to see our full fire lookout camping experience!

Camping with kids in a Montana fire lookout

As mentioned, we only allowed our kids to go out on the wrap-around deck with an adult. While the deck has a railing, the slats are far apart and offers a minimal barrier around the fire lookout.

Our kids enjoyed sitting on the Up Up Lookout deck and howling at the sky. This was also a great spot to watch stars come out at night!

Up Up Lookout in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana

Beautiful views in Montana at Up Up Lookout

The views are beautiful from the top of Up Up Lookout in the Bitterroot Mountains of western Montana. We visited the fire lookout in September, so the weather was a bit chilly and the mountains looked misty.

Camping in a fire lookout Up Up Lookout MT

A family campout in a scenic fire lookout is not something our family will easily forget! We were excited to learn that Idaho and Montana have more than 30 fire lookouts. Many of these you can rent through the US Forest Service and Recreation.gov.

Idaho Fire Lookouts

Arid Peak Lookout
Bald Mountain Lookout
Castle Butte Lookout
Deadwood Lookout
Deer Ridge Lookout
Little Guard Lookout
Lunch Peak Lookout
Lookout Butte Lookout
Shorty Peak Lookout
Surveyors Lookout

Montana Fire Lookouts

Big Creek Baldy Lookout
Couger Peak Lookout
Diamone Butte Lookout
Double Arrow Lookout
Garnet Mountain Lookout
Garver Mountain Lookout
Gem Peak Lookout
Gird Point Lookout
Hornet Lookout
Mccart Lookout
Mcguire Mountain Lookout
Medicine Point Lookout
Minton Peak Lookout
Mission Lookout
Monument Peak Lookout
Thompson Peak Lookout
UP UP Lookout
Webb Mountain Lookout
​Werner Peak Lookout
West Fork Butte Lookout
Yaak Mountain Lookout

40 foot tall Up Up Lookout in Montana

Once we were all settled in Up Up Lookout, we headed down to the ground to make dinner over the campfire. We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows. We also read a bedtime story with our kids, next to the fire. Camping is an awesome opportunity to enjoy family time in the beautiful great outdoors!

Camping with kids campfire

We would definitely visit this fire lookout again! Furthermore, we were excited to discover that we can explore the 30+ other fire lookouts in the Idaho and Montana area! The Inland Northwest and Pacific Northwest has so many awesome destinations to visit.

Family camping adventure at Up Up Lookout

Overall, camping with kids can be a great experience. We try to be as prepared as we can be, keep our trips simple, and enjoy peaceful camping activities such as looking at the stars and sitting around a campfire. Our family loves going on adventures and making memories! See our other adventures.



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