Photo of Arid Peak LookoutArid Peak Lookout was built in 1934 to help detect fires that may have been sparked by the Milwaukee Railroad Line. It was last staffed in 1969 and sat idle for over 25 years before being renovated by a team of over 30 volunteers, the Forest Fire Lookout Association and the U.S. Forest Service. Arid Peak Lookout was restored to its original splendor in 1997 and is available for rent to the public. The lookout is listed on the National Register of Historic Lookouts and provides epic 360 degree views of the Bitterroot Mountains. Access to the cabin requires a moderately-steep 3 mile hike and availability is dependent on weather conditions.

Natural Features: The Arid Peak Lookout is located within the St. Joe River area of the Idaho Panhandle National Forests, an area that includes most of what was originally established as the St. Joe National Forest.  The area is known for its blue-ribbon cutthroat trout streams, Wild and Scenic Rivers and extensive roadless and primitive areas. The St. Joe Rover area is also nationally recognized for its elk herds.  The 20 foot tower sits at an elevation of 5,306 feet and overlooks the beautiful Loop Creek area and the scenic Hiawatha Bicycle Trail. The mixed conifer forest around the facility includes Douglas fir and spruce. Wildlife sightings of elk, deer, black bears, moose and bald eagles are common. This is bear country; Visitors are advised to be aware of and practice bear safety.

Recreation:  The Hiawatha Bicycle Trail is considered the "crown jewel" of rail-to-trail mountain biking trails as it zips across seven trestles and through 10 tunnels in the magnificent Bitterroot Mountains. The trail can be accessed just over 10 miles from the lookout.  The lookout offers access to the Arid Peak Trail #173, Mozier Peak Trail #174, and Kyle Creek Trail #175. All three trails are great for day-hiking, but can also be explored over longer backpacking treks or on horseback.

Facilities:  The cabin fits up to four guests. Furnishings include two cots with mattresses, basic cooking gear, dishes, a propane lantern, propane camp stove, water containers, a table with two chairs and a wood stove. An outhouse is located outside the tower. No water is available so guests must bring their own or boil and treat stream water. Propane canisters are not included; a stock of 16.4 ounce canisters are required to use cooking and lighting equipment. Other items to pack include bedding, food, binoculars, a first aid kit, flashlights, towels and dish soap.

The town of Avery has the nearest conveniences.

Related links: Forest Fire Lookout Association, Arid Peak Lookout on the National Historic Lookout Register

At a Glance

Reservations:  Reservations can be made at  Reservations must be made 4 days ahead of arrival and can be made up to 6 months in advance.
Open Season: Late June - Late September
Restrictions: Dogs are not allowed in any of our cabins, lookouts or historic recreation areas that are available for reservation.
Closest Towns: Wallace, Idaho
Water: None
Restroom: Outhouse
Information Center: Entry is by combination lock; contact the ranger district at (208) 245-4517 for combination at least 4 days prior to arrival No drinking water available; bring water or treat and boil spring water, found a half-mile down a steep trail Please bring garbage bags; this is a "pack it in-pack it out" facility Wastewater should be strained and all food particles should be packed out; remaining water should be poured in a hole away from lookout No smoking allowed in lookout No pets allowed Please seal all food in rodent-proof containers (one provided) or coolers Bring plenty of blankets and warm clothes for cold nights

General Information


From the town of Avery turn left and head north up the North Fork of the St. Joe River Road No. 456 toward Wallace. Travel approximately 4.5 miles; then turn left down the hill just before the bridge across the river. You will then be on Road No. 1997 which is a single lane gravel road with pull outs. Travel approximately 3 1/2 miles and turn left on the first road (also labeled Road No. 1997). Travel approximately 6.5 miles to Trailhead No. 175. There is a turn-around just past the trailhead before the gate. Do not block the turnaround or the gate. You can park in the wide spot by the trailhead. Hike up Trail No. 175 approximately 1.5 miles to its junction with Trail No. 173. Turn right and hike approximately 1.5 miles on Trail No. 173 to Arid Peak.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


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  Elevation : 
5306 feet