Clay Butte Lookout

Area Status: Closed
Photo of the Clay Butte Lookout and an American flag

The Clay Butte Lookout was built in 1942 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and was staffed until the 1960s, when aircraft proved a better tool for fire detection. Because of its popular scenic vantage point and proximity to the Beartooth Highway, Clay Butte continued to be used as a visitor information site. It was remodeled in 1962 and has been staffed since 1975 by volunteers. The focus of Clay Butte today is to give visitors a glimpse of how fire lookouts functioned 60 years ago. Sightseers driving the scenic byway stop to obtain information or take in the view, which includes wildlife, botanical areas, the effects of the Clover-Mist wildfire of 1988, and the geology of ancient seas that once covered the Beartooth Plateau.

At a Glance

Usage: Heavy
Closest Towns: Cooke City, Montana
Water: Potable Water
Restroom: Toilet (1)
Operated By: Forest Service
Information Center: Clarks Fork Ranger District in Cody, telephone 307.527.6921

General Information


From Cody, WY take State Highway 120 north for 16 miles. Turn left onto State Highway 296, the Chief Joseph Scenic Highway. Proceed about 46 miles to the junction with U.S. Highway 212, the Beartooth All-American Highway. Turn right onto Highway 212 and continue for about 5.5 miles to Forest Road 142. Turn left on Forest Road 142. Clay Butte Lookout is about 3 miles more.

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information


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