Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest
Active; Currently standing
Estimated drive time from Portland, OR.
August 14, 2021
National Historic Lookout Register.
My partner and I took a long weekend to visit this area of Oregon. Our plan was to see Rustler Peak, Halls Point and White Point lookouts while camping in the area. There were a few other points of interest that we could check out as well if we had time. We were pretty close to the Devil’s Knob Complex fire and the area was socked in with smoke. I don’t recommend camping that close to an active wildfire. Even though we weren’t close enough to assume any risk, the air quality was at unhealthy levels. We thought about switching up our plans to avoid the smoke but most of Oregon and Washington were smoked out depending on how the wind was blowing that day. We decided to visit Rustler Peak L.O. first. We were driving down FS-37 from the north, and there appeared to be multiple roads leading up to Rustler Peak L.O. We decided to check out the route starting from Parker Meadows Campground since it was before the other road junction and looked to be a shorter route. Parker Meadows is noted as a campground on the map but it looks like it has since been decommissioned. There were no vault toilets or picnic tables. There were camp spots but they looked more like dispersed camp spots with rock fire rings. One of the camp spots had a snow shelter but there were no other notable structures. We headed down FS-661 only to quickly realize this was not a drivable road for my Civic. We walked up the road a bit to see if it improved at all and debated whether we should road walk up this way or attempt the other road. After consulting our map I noticed that FS-640 led all the way up to the lookout and was most likely the main route to get there. We exited Parker Meadows C.G. and continued on FS-37 until we met up with FS-640. You could tell this was a well used route and the road looked like it was in great condition. We headed up this road and only encountered a few bumps along the way. It was one of the easiest Forest Service roads I’ve driven in my Civic to get to a lookout. The last mile to the lookout is a gated road. We parked my car in a pullout before the gate and started walking. It’s a relatively easy road walk from the gate to the summit. Because this is an actively staffed fire lookout, we were hopeful we’d get to meet the lookout attendant since they were noted as being friendly on another trip report. Unfortunately they were either busy working or didn’t feel like socializing that day and we were unable to check out the cab. Always make sure to be respectful of the lookout attendant’s space and only climb the tower if you’ve been invited up. There wouldn’t have been much to look at from the catwalk anyway since the summit was shrouded in smoke. Even on the hike up we had a hard time making out the peaks only a few miles away. We enjoyed lunch on the summit’s picnic table before hiking back down.
Rustler Peak has been noted as an active fire lookout site since 1913. I’m not sure what kind of structure was used for the fire lookout back then. In 1917, they built a cupola cabin on top of a 18′ steel tower. Maintenance on the lookout was performed by the South Fork CCC camp throughout the years. They even helped build the current lookout, which was erected in 1948. It is a 31′ 6″ tower with an L-4 cab. I couldn’t find any information on what happened to the previous lookout but it wasn’t on the summit when we visited. I can only assume it was moved or disassembled. They had contractors add a modern vault toilet to the summit in 2006. This lookout has been staffed every fire season and will continue to be for many more.
2 thoughts on “Rustler Peak L.O.”
Sorry I missed you. I had the old dog last year, she was deaf, and if I was busy I must not have heard you either, which happens sometimes when people walk up. I had lots of renovations this year. Just closed for the season, but I’ve been there 31 years. My new dog will let me know if anyone is out there, so hope you try again.
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No worries! We tend to be quiet when we approach a tower since we don’t want to disturb the fire lookouts on duty. It was very smokey during our visit, so we’d love to be back on a clear day. We’d also love to meet you and your dog! Next time we’re in the area we’ll make our presence known 🙂