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Attention: Effective 10/1/2014, the check-in/check-out times for the West Fork Butte Lookout will be 12:00 p.m. MST and 3:00 p.m. MST. This will allow us more time for facility maintenance.


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


West Fork Butte Lookout is an ideal place for guests to experience the mountains of southern Missoula from a unique vantage point. The facility provides near-360-degree views of the surrounding area. It is equipped with basic supplies and provides guests a base camp location from which to explore the area.

Access by vehicle is available for a relatively short time during the summer months and is variable during the spring and fall. If the gate on Forest Road 37 is closed, guests may have to hike, ski or snowmobile roughly 7.5 miles to the facility. Please call the Missoula Ranger District to check gate status. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities.

Natural Features:

The 14-by-14' lookout is situated on a rocky knob with spectacular views of the surrounding area, including the back of Lolo Peak, the opposing Bitterroot Mountains and the Lolo Creek drainage. It is close to the Montana-Idaho border and Lolo Pass.

The surrounding forest is comprised primarily of lodgepole pine. The area is home to mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, deer and black bears.


Hiking trails are available in the area. Visitors often bring cross-country skis or snowshoes for wintertime fun. Snowmobiles are often used to reach the lookout in the winter, and there is a system of roads to explore nearby.

Fishing is available in Lolo Creek. The area is popular for trout and mountain whitefish.


The lookout can sleep up to four people and is equipped with bunk beds and mattress pads. It also has a table and chairs, a propane cook stove, basic cooking and eating utensils and some pots and pans, as well as a wood stove for heat. A vault toilet is provided.

Guests should bring their own water for drinking, cooking and cleaning purposes. Bedding and towels, propane fuel canisters, flashlights, matches, lighters, garbage bags, toilet paper and cleaning supplies are not supplied at the facility. The lookout will need to be cleaned before leaving.

Activities and Amenities

Within Facility
  • Bed(s)
  • Birding
  • Broom & Dust Pan
  • Cooking Pots
  • Cooking Utensils
  • Cross Country Skiing
  • Firewood
  • Hiking
  • Mattress Pad(s)
  • Mountain Biking
  • Propane Lantern (Fuel not provided)
  • Propane Lights
  • Propane Stove
  • Snowmobiling
  • Snowshoeing
  • Table & Chairs
  • Trailheads
  • Wildlife Viewing
Know Before You Go
  • The lookout remains locked. Renters must contact the Missoula Ranger District office at 406-329-3814 during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 7:30am-4:30pm) to receive the combination to the lookout.
  • Firewood can be limited; conserve wood or bring your own
  • This facility is located in a remote area; before making a reservation, become aware of bear, water and weather safety, including avalanche danger
  • All garbage, food and personal belongings must be packed out
  • Pets are not allowed at this facility
  • Learn more about the Lolo National Forest
  • Don't Move Firewood: Prevent the spread of tree-killing pests by obtaining firewood near your destination and burning it on-site. For more information visit dontmovefirewood.org.

Getting There:

GPS Info. (Latitude, Longitude):
46.73361, -114.40028
46°44'1"N, 114°24'1"W

From Missoula, travel south on Highway 93 to Lolo. Turn onto Highway 12 and continue west for 17 miles, following Lolo Creek to Forest Road 37. Turn left onto Road 37, cross the concrete bridge over Lolo Creek and turn right. Follow Forest Road 37 for approximately 7 miles to the second intersection. Turn a sharp left and travel through the gate. Follow the road to the lookout.

The gate at Forest Road 37 is closed during the winter and early spring to provide skiing and snowmobiling opportunities. If the gate is locked, visitors can park at the parking area below the gate, and follow the route to the cabin. Maps are available online or for purchase by calling the Missoula Ranger District.

Contact Information:

Mailing Address:


Phone Number:

Information:  (406)329-3814
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