Tahoe Donner is a great base camp for exploring the Sierra Nevada. We have beautiful mountains with historical fire lookouts (LO) scattered around to give you easy access for spectacular views. The first LO in the area was built by the Central Pacific Railroad in 1877 atop Red Mountain. In the 1920-1930s LOs were established by the Forest Service throughout the region. Some of these LOs are still in use, making the trek to visit with the knowledgeable LO staff especially rewarding. Seasonally staffed LOs include Babbitt, Dixie, Duncan, Smith, Mills and Saddleback. Some LOs are no longer used for spotting fires but are available for overnight stays including Calpine and Sardine Peak. Reservations are available though the servicing National Forest Office. The staffed and rental LOs have maintained dirt roads, making them suitable for your high clearance SUV.
There are LOs that are not longer used including the crown jewel, Sierra Buttes – a “must visit” destination for looking down at the gorgeous Gold Lakes Basin. Martis Peak near Brockway Summit is accessible via paved road except for the last ½ mile. Verdi Peak LO above Verdi Nevada has been badly vandalized and since the Forest Service no longer maintains the access road, its rocky approach is better suited to hikers, mountain bikers and Jeeps. Once the snow melts, join us for a trip to a LO, or take your own rewarding trip.