The Only Remaining Fire Lookout in Rocky Mountain National Park
Fire Lookouts Extravaganza | Monday & Tuesday, August 29-30, 2022
Earlier this year I managed to reserve two nights this week at the Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout in the Medicine Bow Mountains of Wyoming and thought it would be fun to make a longer trip out if it by trying to visit as many other Fire Lookouts in the same general area that I could. Since my first night at the Spruce Mountain Tower wasn’t until Tuesday, I thought it would make sense to stop and visit the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout on the way there. Located near the small town of Grand Lake, the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout was built in the 1930’s and is the only remaining Fire Lookout left within the boundaries of Rocky Mountain National Park. I left from work on Monday afternoon and followed the upper Colorado River to Grand Lake with a stop for gas in Kremmling.
When I reached Grand Lake I decided to check out the East Shore Trailhead before searching for a campsite so I would know where to go in the morning when it was dark out, and I was a little surprised to find that the parking lot was completely empty.
A view of Mount Craig as I headed back through Grand Lake.
Next, I drove up the Stillwater Pass Road to find a campsite for the night. There were a lot of burned and dead trees in this area, which would be a common sight throughout the next few days.
I found a place to camp below Little Gravel Mountain and had a nice view over towards Lake Granby.
Once the sun went down I got right to bed so I could get an early start on Tuesday morning.
After a good night of sleep I was up early on Tuesday and hiking along the East Shore Trail at dawn.
Entering Rocky Mountain National Park
Shortly before taking this photo of Shadow Mountain Lake I had to walk past a couple of moose that were near the shore and not too far off the trail. They were a little too close for comfort, so I made sure to keep moving quickly as I went past.
Soon the trail started to climb higher above the lake as I neared the junction with the Shadow Mountain Trail.
The Shadow Mountain Trail started to climb more steeply into the trees on the way to the Lookout.
There were only a couple of views through the trees over the lake along the way.
As I neared the end of the trail I finally got my first glimpse of the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout.
Welcome to the Shadow Mountain Fire Lookout
Here’s a view from the front of the Fire Lookout that is obscured by some smaller trees.
Looking up the stairway, which is closed to entry.
Dangerous Conditions. There were plenty of these signs posted at the trailhead, along the trail, and around the Fire Lookout.
In my opinion, the best view of the Fire Tower was found on the top of an outcropping of rocks to the northwest.
Here’s a look at the back of the Fire Lookout.
Window & Stone
Shadow Mountain View
This was my last view of the Fire Lookout before I headed back down the trail and then returned to Grand Lake for an early lunch. Then it was off to the Spruce Mountain Fire Lookout in Wyoming!