Big Hole Lookout (MT)

Lolo National Forest

The Big Hole Lookout offers guests an opportunity to experience an old-time Forest Service lookout. The tower commands an impressive 360 degree view of valleys and mountain ranges for miles and miles. The structure is small and is not elevated like many other lookouts, and is available for rent from June to early October each year.  

2021 is the first year the lookout will be available to the public to rent. We are excited to offer this new, unique opportunity on the Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District.

The lookout can be accessed on the Big Hole Lookout Trail by foot, horse or bicycle for 3 miles, one way, on a easy to moderate trail. Guests are responsible for their own travel arrangements and safety, and must bring several of their own amenities. From Plains, Montana plan on at least a 60 - 90 minute drive to the Big Hole Lookout Trailhead on a steep and winding road.

The 14-by-14 structure is small, but can accommodate up to four people. There is a twin bed for with a mattress pad, two cots, a table with two chairs, and a wood stove. No other furnishings are provided. A rustic outhouse with a vault toilet is available about 200 feet from the lookout. Guests will need to bring water for drinking, cooking and cleaning purposes, as well as their own bedding and cots for additional sleeping options, cooking and eating equipment and fuel, cooking and eating utensils, flashlights, matches and toilet paper, among other necessities. There is no water available at the site, however, 3/4 mile downhill of the lookout is a spring with non-potable water. There is room plenty of room outside the tower for tents or stock animals. Guests should be prepared for cold and often wet or damp weather, even if the weather in the valley is warm and dry. Food, garbage and other waste needs to be put away at all times to avoid attracting bears. Firewood may be collected locally for the wood stove.

Need to Know

Natural Features

Big Hole Peak Lookout was built for what was originally the Cabinet National Forest in 1930. It is a ‘Grange Hall’ type lookout; 14 feet square with four courses of large logs atop a short talus foundation. This type of lookout predates the standard L-4 design, and due to the difficulty in its construction, is quite rare. In fact Big Hole Peak Lookout is one of only two remaining intact lookouts of this kind on the Lolo National Forest. It was determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 1984 for the Lookouts on the Lolo Project. The site has not been used for fire detection purposes since 1972.

The 2 million-acre forest includes four wilderness areas and a wide variety of trees, plants and wildlife. The area is home to mountain goats, bighorn sheep, elk, moose, deer and grizzly and black bears (learn more about bear safety). Both the bald and golden eagle reside in the forest, along with trumpeter swan, herons and dozens of varieties of ducks.


Big Hole Lookout has an amazing 360 degree view of several mountain peaks and ranges. Various non-motorized trails link to the site allowing renters to hike, bike, or ride for several miles. The area is popular for wildlife viewing, star gazing, and enjoying the piece and quiet of the backcountry. 

Contact Information


PO Box 429 Plains/Thompson Falls Ranger District 408 Clayton Street Plains MT 59859

Phone Number

For campground inquiries, please call: 406-826-3821

Rental Options

Learn more about gear rental options for your trip

Driving Directions

From Plains, Montana travel northwest on Highway 200 for approximately 7.5 miles to Weeksville Creek Road (FR 887). From Thompson Falls, Montana travel southeast on Highway 200 for approximately 17.5 miles to Weeksville Creek Road (FR 887). Turn north onto Weeksville Creek Road (FR 887) and travel approximately 3 miles to Big Hole Road (FR 5587) and turn left. Travel the Big Hole Road for approximately 17.5 miles to the Big Hole Trailhead.

Available Campsites

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