The Yellowstone fire Management Operation maintains a system of three fire lookout stations. There are two additional stations that can be activated in the event of high fire danger or fire monitoring needs. All are located on mountaintops. There are no towers in the park. The three main lookouts are Mt. Washburn, Mt. Holmes, and Mt. Sheridan. Each of the three stations is manned from late June through the first snows of mid-September.
Mt. Washburn is the only lookout accessible by vehicle. It's 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 helicopter. Supplies and water are delivered twice each month for the duration of the fire season. 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. The first is fire detection. Each lookout is a trained firefighter. They are provided with cell phones, radios and high quality optical equipment. In addition each station has a conventional fire finder, a sighting device used to calculate azimuth and range. The park experiences about 22 fire starts each season from lightning and an additional 6 to 10 that are human caused. The second function is to monitor fires that are allowed to burn for resource benefit. It isn't practical, cost efficient, or environmentally desirable to suppress all fires. The lookouts play a key role in supporting this aspect of the fire management program.
Did You Know?
There are more people hurt by bison than by bears each year in Yellowstone. Park regulations state that visitors must stay at least 25 yards away from bison or elk and 100 yards away from bears.