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Attention: The entire cabin will be closed from June 22 - July 1, 2015.
Attention: The entire cabin will be closed from October 19 - 29, 2015.


part ofSix Rivers National Forest, US Forest Service
Status: Open year round.   Season Dates


On a high, narrow mountain ridge at 5,280 feet, Bear Basin Lookout and Pierson Cabin offer visitors an awe-inspiring experience and a quiet haven away from crowds. Excellent views of the Siskiyou Wilderness to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west are why visitors love staying in the heart of the Six Rivers National Forest of northern California.

The current lookout building was previously situated at Camp Six, where it was used to spot forest fires. That structure was moved from Camp Six to Bear Basin Butte in 1996. The original Bear Basin Butte lookout existed in the 1930s.

During the summer and early fall months (July 1 – October 15), the rental includes both the lookout tower and a modern 1930s-style cabin built in the 1990s. While the Pierson Cabin remains open all year, the lookout tower itself is closed during the winter and spring to protect it from the ruthless winds that blow hard off the Pacific Ocean.

This is a remote location. Access to the cabin is variable and the road is not maintained for winter use. In the winter, and even rarely in the fall or spring, guests may have to hike, ski, or snowshoe up to 12 miles (maximum), parking down near Highway 199. More commonly, guests may find that they can drive partway, but that snow has closed the road half way up, and they will need to be prepared to follow the road on foot the rest of the way. Snowmobiles may be used on Forest System roads that are open to vehicle use, but guests should be advised that during heavy snowfall, sections of this road may drift in and become impassable to snowmobiles. The first ten miles of the road are paved but can become very slick and icy. High-clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended, and guests are also advised to carry chains and a shovel for winter travel to this site. Guests should note that even during the summer, the paved portion of the road (Little Jones Creek Road) frequently has numerous rocks and debris. The last half mile of the access is on a steep gravel road. Quality tires and high-clearance vehicles are recommended. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.


Bird watching is available, as well as great hiking opportunities in the nearby Siskiyou Wilderness. Please don’t forget to pick up a Siskiyou Wilderness Map at your nearest Forest Service Visitor Center or local outdoor store before venturing into the wilderness. Horseback riding trails may be accessed nearby, and wildlife viewers may catch a glimpse of deer or bears, which make their home in the area. Winter visitors may enjoy cross-country skiing along forest roads or in Bear Meadow, snowshoeing along the Island Lake trail, or simply enjoying what may be a spectacular winter wonderland view.


The lookout and cabin can accommodate up to eight guests, but up to 12 guests are permitted for an extra fee. The cabin has an entry room with a countertop suitable for organizing supplies and preparing food. Three double beds are provided (one of which is a bunk above the other) in the cabin and a futon in the lookout. The cabin also has a four-seat dining table, three chairs, a bench, a book case, and a wood-burning stove (firewood is provided). In the winter and spring (October 16 – June 30), only the cabin is available for rental. Up to eight guests are permitted at the winter rate, and up to 12 guests are allowed for an extra fee.

Board games and various books may be available for use. A vault toilet, picnic tables and a campfire ring are outside. No water or electricity is available. Guests should bring plenty of water, food, bedding, flashlights and other basic camp gear (click here for more cabin details). In the winter, guests should be prepared to melt snow for water, especially if unable to drive to the cabin site. Snow may be melted on the campfire or on the wood stove, but guests will need to provide their own pot for this purpose.

Nearby Attractions:

The Smith River National Recreation Area Visitor Center is about 21 miles, or roughly one hour by vehicle, from the lookout.

Doe Flat and Island Lake Trailheads, which access the Siskiyou Wilderness, are within three miles of the lookout.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Accessible Vault Toilets
  • Bed(s)
  • Birding
  • Broom & Dust Pan
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Campfire Rings
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Grills
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Parking Area
  • Picnic Area
  • Scenic Overlooks
  • Snowshoeing
  • Table & Chairs
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Wood Stove
Within 10 Miles
  • Horseback Riding Trails
  • Trailheads
Know Before You Go
  • The road to the lookout is not plowed or maintained for winter travel!
  • This facility is located in a remote and wild area, far from any services; before making a reservation, become aware of weather and travel safety, especially if visiting during the fall, winter, or spring.
  • Road and weather conditions are unpredictable. Always be prepared for changing conditions and carry a map, tire chains, and snow shovel. High-clearance vehicles are recommended.
  • Access roads are steep and narrow; the last one mile to the cabin is gravel.
  • If a low-elevation storm is predicted, be sure to park facing the vehicle downhill before reaching the snow zone. It is the responsibility of the cabin guest to arrange for towing if their vehicle gets stuck in snow.
  • No electricity or water is available at either facility; guests should be prepared to melt snow for water during the winter.
  • The rental accommodates eight guests; an additional fee of $5 per person per night is charged for additional guests, up to a maximum of 12 people. This additional fee is payable directly to the Forest Service at the time of key pickup.
  • Access to cabin is by key; contact (707) 457-3131 during regular business hours (Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.) to arrange pickup at the Smith River Visitor Center in Gasquet, CA.
  • The lookout itself is closed on or around October 15th each year to protect the building from damaging winds. Weather is unpredictable, and in some cases, when a strong storm is predicted to arrive before October 15th, the lookout may close early. The Pierson Cabin will still be available. Please call the Smith River NRA Visitor Center for the most current information.
  • No pets are allowed in either building, but pets are allowed outside.
  • All vehicles, including OHVs and snowmobiles, must remain on designated routes and obey all closure orders. A Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) is available from the Smith River National Recreation Area Visitor Center or at http://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/srnf/maps-pubs/?cid=STELPRDB5080418&width=full. Always check the MVUM before traveling on routes where use is not clearly marked.
  • Click here for more information on the Six Rivers National Forest
  • In general, cancellation policies apply even if you find yourself unable to reach your destination! Again, it is your responsibility to arrange for your travel and safety!
  • Don't Move Firewood: Please protect your National Forest by preventing the spread of invasive species. Firewood can carry insects and diseases that can threaten the health of your western forest. You can make a difference by obtaining and burning your firewood near your camping destination. Visit Dontmovefirewood.org.for further information.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
41.80917, -123.74
41°48'33"N, 123°44'24"W

From Crescent City, head north on Highway 101 and turn right (east) on Highway 199/Redwood Highway. At mile marker 24.7, turn right onto Little Jones Creek Road (also called “Jawbone” and Forest Service Route 16, or 17N05 on Forest Service maps). Follow signs to Bear Basin Lookout, staying on Route 16 (17N05). About 6 miles up, the lookout will be in view across the canyon. At about 20 miles (roughly 10 of which are on Route 16), turn left onto Forest Service Road 16N02 and continue driving 0.4 miles. You will see an access road on your left with a gate. Following the access road, it is 0.5 miles from the gate to the cabin.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:

Smith River National Recreation Area US Forest Service P.O. Box 228
GASQUET  CA  95543

Phone Number:

Information:  (707)457-3131
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