Glacier Centennial: Heavens Peak Fire Lookout

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Heavens Peak - Rachel Zinger photo

A fire lookout constructed of wood, stone and glass perches at the tip of the north ridge of Glacier National Park’s Heavens Peak. Built on the prominent, often-photographed 8,994-foot mountain in 1945 at a cost of less than $5,000, the structure once served as an integral link in the park’s network of manned fire lookouts. The lookout was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Calling the rustic lookout “the most enduring legacy of the Civilian Public Service (CPS) Camp in Glacier National Park,” The Glacier Park Fund has taken on the building’s restoration as one of its Glacier Park Centennial Legacy Projects. The proposed work involves stabilizing the roof, repairing and reconstructing shutters, repairing and painting exposed exterior wood surfaces, and masonry stabilization.

Fire Lookout - Gary Ludwig photo

The Glacier Park Fund projects funding needs of $36,000 of for the lookout’s rehabilitation. (Click here to make a donation.) The planned restoration work will slow down the accelerating deterioration so that the historic structure can withstand the harsh alpine conditions in harmony with the landscape.

While air observation allows a more comprehensive coverage of the park
and has replaced the manned lookout almost entirely, the Heavens Peak fire lookout once provided observers with a marvelous panoramic view including the Livingston Range, the Lake McDonald Valley, Logan Pass and the Garden Wall. Typically, observers used an Osborne Firefinder (aligning the sites rather like aiming a rifle) to pinpoint the exact location of any observed smoke on a circular park map.

The construction of the Heavens Peak lookout was one of many projects completed by conscientious objectors assigned to Glacier Park’s World War II Civilian Public Service Camp (CPS). The camp housed 550 men.

The Glacier Park Fund’s overall goal for multiple, short-term legacy projects is $250,000. According to the fund, the Heavens Peak Lookout restoration, in consultation with the park’s historic architect, is part of a 2010 birthday gift to the park. In 2009, restoration work on a 1913 ranger cabin was completed providing space for a winter school programs. More accessible trails, a wildlife viewing platform and upgraded Logan Pass visitor center exhibits are also on the wish list.


My Glacier National Park Centennial posts can be found on Twitter by searching on the #glaciercentennial tag.

Purchases of this adventure novel benefit Glacier Park

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7 responses

  1. I’d love to see that old cabin. I will put it on my “to see” list when the restoration is completed. I’m glad they are restoring it: we are losing so many of the old lookouts now.

    • I know there still in the fund raising stage, but the guys who are going to supervise the work are eager to get started once snow and trail conditions will allow them to get there. Hmm, July maybe?

  2. Pingback: Historic Fire Lookout Repairs to Begin in August « Malcolm's Round Table

  3. Wonderful view for sure! The aesthetics and grandeur, SO WILD! Glad we’re going to re-tame that hilltop! kutos-

  4. My dad was one of the people involved in helping build the original lookout on Heavens Peak when he was stationed at Glacier Park during World War II. Nice to know it has been restored.