Gold Butte Lookout - Oregon

Willamette National Forest

[PHOTO and LINK: Photo of Gold Butte Lookout and Vicinity - Click for Larger Photos]

Perched on the summit of Gold Butte (4,618' elevation), Gold Butte Lookout offers breathtaking views of the Cascade Range, including nearby Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Hood, the Three Sisters, and Bull of the Woods Wilderness Area. Enjoy solitude at this rustic getaway in a historical setting that replicates this unique experience. By nightfall, the remote cabin becomes an amateur astronomer’s haven with dazzling displays of stars, planets, and other stellar marvels.


[ICON and LINK: Camera icon with link to larger photos of rental and vicinity.]

Larger photos of Gold Butte Lookout and Vicinity


MORE INFORMATION: History | Description | Area Attractions & Activities | Amenities | Pets | Smoking | Directions | Warning

Price & Capacity

$65 per night per group, with a maximum of four occupants. Fees are used directly for the maintenance and preservation of the lookout.

The site does not have adequate space to accommodate tents.



[IMAGE: Map of Forest Vicinity and Link to Forest Web Site.]


Detroit Ranger District
HC 73 Box 320
Mill City, OR 97360

Other Willamette National Forest Recreation Rentals


Gold Butte Lookout is available for rent mid-June through mid-October, depending on snow conditions.

[IMAGE: Available Summer and Fall]


-- The maximum length stay is four consecutive nights. There is a two night minimum length stay on weekends. --

[LINK: Check rental availability.]



[PHOTO and LINK: Photo of Gold Butte Lookout and Vicinity - Click for Larger Photos]The hip roof L-4 ground structure with a catwalk was constructed in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corp as part of an extensive ground based "fixed-point" fire detection system. Eight years later, the Forest Service constructed a cabin just north of the lookout. During World War II, the lookout and cabin served as part of Aircraft Warning System station in defense of the nation against air attack. It was staffed around the clock, usually by a husband and wife team, who reported all passing aircraft within sight or sound to a central filter center.

The fire lookout and cabin was abandoned in the 1960's and scheduled to be burned. The cabin was burned but the Pacific Crest Trust Fund prevented the demise of the lookout. This group organized it’s preservation by raising money and providing volunteer labor to rehabilitate the structure. They continued to complete ad hoc work until the late 1980's. In 1991, Gold Butte Lookout was evaluated as eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, and is listed in the National Lookout Register. In 1996, the late Ron Johnson, a retired Forest Service dispatcher and then Director of the Oregon Chapter of the Forest Fire Lookout Association, encouraged the Forest Service to form a partnership with Sand Mountain Society to rehabilitate and maintain the fire lookout. Subsequently, a partnership was formed and restoration began in 1999. Thanks to Sand Mountain Society’s dedication and hard work, the lookout has a new lease on life. Gold Butte Lookout opened as a recreation rental to the public on June 29, 2007 to help ensure its long term preservation and maintenance.


[PHOTO and LINK: Photo of Gold Butte Lookout and Vicinity - Click for Larger Photos]The historic rustic one-room 14’ x 14’ cabin is surrounded by glass windows and an exterior catwalk with a 360° view. It is furnished much like the lookout of past with refurbished or replica furniture including: one twin bed and mattress, table, bench, stool, cabinet, wood bins and fire-finder stand. Three folding cots are provided for occupants. It is equipped with a wood stove for heating, fire extinguisher, broom, dust pan, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, and some dishes and untensiles. An outhouse and a woodshed (stocked with firewood) are located near the lookout. No water is available. Visitors must pack in their own water for drinking, cooking and washing. Visitors must also bring sleeping bags, propane lantern for lighting, cook stove, cookware, and garbage bags to "Pack it out."

Area Attractions & Activities

In addition to relaxing and taking in the incredible views from Gold Butte, venture out and experience other recreation opportunities nearby. Canoe or fish in a peaceful setting at Elk Lake, or rent a boat at Detroit Lake for a change of pace. Enjoy a day hike in the adjacent Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness Areas or nearby Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. Sightsee and explore along the West Cascades National Scenic Byway. Nature abounds with wildflowers, wildlife and wild huckleberry treats.

[PHOTO and LINK: Photo of Gold Butte Lookout and Vicinity - Click for Larger Photos]



  • Wood Stove for Heat
  • Firewood
  • Outhouse

The site does not have adequate space to accommodate tents.


Pets are allowed.


No smoking.


From Salem, travel 50 miles on Highway 22 to Detroit. Turn onto Forest Service Road (FSR) 46-Breitenbush Road and proceed about 4 miles to FSR 4696. Turn left onto FSR 4696 and drive about 0.75 of a mile to FSR 4697. Turn left onto FSR 4697 and travel about 5 miles to the saddle. Turn right onto FSR 451 and proceed to the first right (FSR 453). On FSR 453, proceed through the gate and continue approximately 0.5 mile to the parking area located at the second green gate. (Note: The last two miles of road access is rough gravel and dirt with 10% grade, and is not maintained for low clearance vehicles.) From the parking area, it is about a ½ mile difficult hike to the lookout.


This is an all-wood structure. Extreme caution must be taken when using lanterns and cook stoves. Smoking is prohibited inside the lookout. Note the location of the fire extinguisher and become familiar with its use. No campfires.