We have wanted to stay at a fire lookout for a long time, since we ran across a story somewhere on the internet, so when the opportunity to stay at Squaw Peak Lookout came up we jumped at the chance to stay over Memorial Day weekend!
Reading the description of the view alone had our adventurer hearts beating and the added details of complete disconnection added to the appeal. It ended up that we weren't completely disconnected since we did have cell service, but we loved the solitude of basically being all on our own.
Going out of Jacksonville you take you get out of Ruch you take the highway until you reach forest road 2010. There aren't big signs directing you so keep a close eye to your mileage per the directions you are given. You will cross a small bridge and there will be a road marker that says 2010 and a small sign that says Squaw Peak 6 miles. It's very beautiful green, forested roads until you reach a gate that says ROAD CLOSED where you put in your own combination to get past. Beyond the gate the road up is not for the faint of heart. With a series of switchbacks and really tight corners our CRV took them pretty well, but a vehicle any bigger might have a little harder time. It definitely was a gorgeous drive up; dense forest interspersed with wildflowers along the way.
When we got to Squaw Peak Lookout we were in a cloud layer and it started to storm, pouring rain and blowing wind, so we unpacked the car and got set up in our cabin since we couldn’t see anything anyways; and then soon after it started to SNOW! I know, what?! I don't know what we were thinking (we do live in southern Oregon) but it was so cold even though it was Memorial Day weekend. We did not come prepared for winter weather, but lesson learned, always pack winter gear during the spring in Oregon. Fortunately we packed extra blankets so we made it through the night.
In the morning we were surrounded by three inches of snow. While gorgeous, it was pretty freaking cold so we hunkered down until the kids got hungry. After we ate we played I-spy and read, and watched a movie on our laptop. Around noon the sky started to clear a little so we took a little hike down the main road. It was exactly what we needed so we didn't get cabin fever. It felt pretty awesome to know that we weren't going to run into anyone. It was almost like we had our own personal mountain.
Once we hiked back it really started warming up and the clouds were shifting so we decided to setup our camping chairs and take in the views while we sipped our mimosas on the mountain. The weather just got better throughout the day, and since we had a 360 view there is plenty to look at. Bring your binoculars to take it all in. Lots of wildflowers and birds, and as I sat there in the early evening the scent of lemony herbaceousness came on the breeze (we still can't figure out what it was).
The kids played imagination games and then started a rock stacking competition, while Gary and I could not get enough pictures. Once it started to cool down we headed inside to watch the sunset while we ate our simple dinner. Being on top of the world to watch the sunset was absolutely amazing. Once it got close to the full sunset Gary and I headed out to the deck to feel the cool breeze blowing and we watched in silence as the sun dipped behind the mountains, one of our favorite moments of our trip. The clouds were above us so we couldn't see the stars, giving us more reason to go back because apparently it has one of the most impressive starlight shows of all of the lookouts.
The next morning the skies were blue with clouds, stunning us into more moments of awed silence. We had to pack up, so reluctantly we cleaned up our cabin while the kids played below us enjoying every last moment of solitude that they could.
If you go, be prepared for a very sparse cabin. There was one camp chair, a cot, and a camp table. There was a small plastic box that contained a couple of essentials like toilet paper and sani-wipes. Make sure you bring a sleeping pad or cot of some sort because you won't want to lie on the floor with your sleeping bag. There is a vault toilet not too far from the lookout, but Olivia wouldn’t have any of that so she learned how to go potty in a bucket. It ended up being really convenient because of the storm and I just dumped it into the vault afterwards. There is a concrete pad for fires so you can bring up your own firewood, when fires aren't banned. This is the perfect lookout to take your kids, because we just pulled right up and had to walk up a small hill. We just made to let Olivia and Ilias know that they had to be careful and stay away from the edges because of the drop-offs. Also, be aware there is poison oak and ticks are in the area and if you go in the warmer months there are rattlesnakes; just be aware of your surroundings.
We can't say it enough, how fortunate we feel to live in southern Oregon. We literally live an hour from this untouched beautiful area, and there are so many more places for us to explore. We definitely will try to get back up there, especially since it is so close to our home here in Medford and think you will have an amazing, memorable time too!
If you want to get details about Squaw Peak Lookout go HERE and to make your reservations go HERE.Squaw Peak Lookout is available during the snow-free season usually May to October.We checked the weather by typing in Squaw Peak Lookout weather in to Google search and it was pretty accurate (no we weren't smart enough to check the specific weather before we went).