Castle Butte Lookout


Area Status: Closed
The historic castle Butte Lookout stands high above the ground against a beautiful blue sky.

Originally built in 1916, replaced in 1928 and rebuilt as a lookout in 1950, the Castle Butte Lookout is perched on a rocky point 6659' above sea level in north central Idaho. Thrilling panoramic views of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, the Seven Devils, the Great Burn Area, and the North Fork of the Clearwater drainage can all be enjoyed while warming yourself inside the lookout and cooking a meal.  The lookout houses up to 4 comfortably, has lights, a heater and a propane stove and is located 2 miles off the scenic Lolo Trail National Historic Landmark Corridor, AKA the Lolo Motorway (requires a high-clearance vehicle). Along the Motorway, hikers and OHV riders alike can retrace the historic paths of the Nez Perce and Lewis & Clark on their journey west and perchance visit one or all of the four high mountain lakes in the area.

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Open seasonally by reservation only. Reservations are accepted on www.Recreation.gov and typically fill several months in advance.
Reservations: To reserve the lookout, please visit Castle Butte on Recreation.gov or call 1-877-444-6777. CONSTRUCTION NOTICE: Castle Butte Lookout will have a new toilet installed during the 2022 summer! Construction will occur between Aug. and Sept. 2022. During this time the site will be closed so that crews can safely operate large equipment in the limited area surrounding the lookout. If there is time left in the regular operating season once installation is complete, the site will be opened again to receive additional reservations. We apologize for limiting site availability for the coming season, but are excited to offer improvements at this location, thanks to funding from the Great America Outdoors Act.
Fees: Nightly rates are $45.  See Recreation.gov for details.
Open Season: July 8 - August 3, 2022
Best Season: Summer
Busiest Season: Summer
Restrictions:
  • OHVs are not allowed off roads.
  • The lookout has a 4 person limit and stock is not allowed at site.
  • Garbage services not available. Pack It In, Pack It Out.
Closest Towns: Lowell, ID
Water: Drinking water is not provided.
Restroom: 1 pit toilet
Operated By: US Forest Service
Information Center: Lochsa-Powell Ranger District, 208-926-4274

General Information

Directions:

Courtesy of Recreation.gov:
From Kooskia, ID, take U.S. 12 east for about 65 miles and turn left on Road 107/Gravey Creek Road/Saddle Camp Road. Drive for about 6 miles, then take a slight right on Road 107/Gravey Creek Road. In about 3 miles, turn left toward Lolo Motorway/Lolo Trail. Take the first right onto Lolo Motorway/Lolo Trail. Drive for about 9.5 miles, then Lolo Motorway turns right and becomes Forest Road 561.

From Missoula, MT, take U.S. 12 west for about 75 miles and turn right on Road 107/Gravey Creek Road/Saddle Camp Road. Drive for about 6 miles, then take a slight right on Road 107/Gravey Creek Road. In about 3 miles, turn left toward Lolo Motorway/Lolo Trail. Take the first right onto Lolo Motorway/Lolo Trail. Drive for about 9.5 miles, then Lolo Motorway turns right and becomes Forest Road 561. 


Parking:

Lookout area is approximately 2 acres, and here vehicles may park next to the lookout.


Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Mountain Biking

Mountain bikers can enjoy a recreational ride through history on this magnificent tree-lined ridge road high above the Lochsa River. The Lolo Motorway follows the overland route of the Corps of Discovery in 1805--the most challenging  portion of their journey to the Pacific Ocean. The 72.9 miles of single-lane dirt road is rocky with many ruts, divots, and washboard bumps.

Cabin Rentals

This wonderful lookout houses up to four guests, comes with a propane cookstove, heater and lights.

Lake and Pond Fishing

There are four high mountain lakes in the area which can make for a great day of lake fishing.

Day Hiking

Between two National Historic Trails in the Castle Butte vicinity, day hiking opportunities abound.

For in depth information on the Nez Perce National Historic Trail (Nee-Me-Poo National Historic Trail) visit their webpage here!

Trail 40: the Nee-Me-Poo National Historic Trail

Trail 25: the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail 

Horse Riding

Horse riding can be enjoyed along FS Road 500 and Trails 25 and 40.

Big Game Hunting

Please visit Idaho Fish & Game for details on when, where and what you need to hunt in Idaho.

Viewing Wildlife

This area is rich in wildlife such as bear, wolves, elk, deer, eagles and more.

Viewing Plants

This area is prized among locals for its abundant huckleberry production.  

Viewing Scenery

Towing high above the rocky point it's perched on, which itself is nearly 7000' above sea level, the Castle Butte Lookout provides the perfect spot to take in panoramic views of the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness, the Seven Devils, The Great Burn Area and the beauty that comprises the North Fork of the Clearwater drainage.

OHV Road Riding

OHV riding is permitted on roads, but not on trails in the area.

Interpretive Areas

Castle Butte Lookout is steeped in stories and provides a spectacular vantage point for learning about Forest Service history.

Scenic Driving

The Lolo Motorway stretches for 100 miles through scenic mountain landscapes. Summer visitors can see meadows and hillsides blanketed in colorful wildflowers. Travelers should be prepared for rough, sometimes treacherous conditions. No services are located along this road, so travelers should have plenty of gas, food and water for the drive.

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Latitude : 
46.43417

  Longitude : 
-115.21917

  Elevation : 
5100' - 7100'