Lookouts are crazy fun, but due to their popularity, they have become tricky to book. So here are a few tips to help you secure a lookout for your next getaway.
TIP 1: RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH
Not every lookout is the same. Some you can drive right up to, and some you have to hike. I have hiked as little as a 1/4 mile into them as well as multiple-mile treks. They are also all different heights, some are ground houses, and some are 50 ft in the air. Make sure you are booking a lookout that fits your style and comfort zones.
TIP 2: Watch the Weather
Include weather in your research. Remember that June can be a really nice spring/summer month where you are from; however, in the mountains at high elevation where the lookouts are located, there can still be snow deep enough to make them inaccessible for all but the hardiest adventurer. Nights can be cold year-round, and late-season rentals can give you a beautiful autumn day hiking in and monster snowdrifts hiking out.
We had to skip visits to lookouts that were booked and paid for before because we booked them in very hard to get to areas in the early season where long winters stomped out our plans. That being said, if you are prepared to access with a snowmobile or to do a long trek on skis or snowshoes, you may experience something that few others get to.
TIP 3: Plan Your Calendar
These lookouts book up fast when they come available. When you sit down to reserve a lookout is not the time to decide what one you want to visit and what dates you hope to stay. It would be best if you had this planned ahead of time. That way, then when the lookout comes available to rent for the dates available, you are ready.
TIP 4: Set An Alarm
Lookouts on recreation.gov are available to book 6 months in advance. They go on sale at 10 am EST, and many are reserved within minutes of being available. For example, if you want to book something for July 26th, it will be available on January 26th at 10 am EST. Have your plan in place, set your alarm, and be in front of the computer when it is time to book!
TIP 5: Have a Backup Plan
Due to their popularity, it is a good idea to have a backup plan. That can be either different dates for the lookout you really want, or maybe a different lookout if you are locked into particular dates.
Good luck and enjoy your stay in a lookout. It’s an amazing and memorable experience.