Fire Lookouts

A building sits on top of a mountain with wide views

Fire lookouts are important for fire detection and fire monitoring.



The Yellowstone Fire Management Office maintains three fire lookout stations located on mountaintops; there are no lookout towers in the park. The lookouts are on Mt. Washburn, Mt. Holmes, and Mt. Sheridan. Only Mt. Washburn is continuously staffed from mid-June until the end of the fire season in the fall.

Mt. Washburn is accessible by vehicle, though visitors must hike to the lookout. It is located in the north central portion of the park and sits at an elevation of 10,243 feet. Mt. Holmes and Mt. Sheridan are supported logistically by pack animals and a helicopter when staffed. Mt. Sheridan is in the south central portion of the park and is 10,308 feet high. Mt. Holmes is in the northwest quadrant of the park and is 10,336 feet high.

The lookouts serve two primary functions: fire detection and fire monitoring. Each lookout is staffed with a trained firefighter who is provided with cell phones, radios, and high quality optical equipment. Additionally, each station has a conventional Osborne fire finder—a sighting device used to calculate azimuth and range. In an average year, approximately 25 fires are ignited in Yellowstone by lightning. An additional 6 to 10 are caused by humans. Lookouts monitor fire activity and report significant changes to the Fire Management Office.


Did You Know?