Social Engagement: Low
What’s What: Be a mountain hermit and take in the majestic views while watching nature unfold. You’ll be perched high on a mountain top, on the lookout for smoke columns and flames. If you’ve been craving some solitude, being a fire tower lookout might be the perfect gig. You can even rent one just to see what it’s like.
Amava Take: Fire lookout towers seem like a bygone tool but there are still hundreds of towers in service with paid staff and/or volunteers. These towers are an important part of American history and many are on the National Register of Historic Places.
From the Front Lines:
What kinds of candidates are you looking for to fill these positions?
You should embrace solitude, have strong eyesight, a hardy constitution and the ability to keep yourself occupied.
Any tips for first-timers to make it a productive and fulfilling experience?
Bring toilet paper! Amenities are rustic. And make sure you bring reading material and things to do. There won’t be wifi. Some towers don’t have electricity or running water. Read the description of the tower carefully so you know what to bring.
What’s a typical daily schedule like?
There are all types of shifts but it’s not a full time job and many times it’s seasonal.
From the Trenches:
What’s the most satisfying part of the job/experience?
I love being in nature and the views are phenomenal. I can look at the sky all day.
How would you describe the hard parts?
There is hiking involved to reach most of the fire towers and the accommodations are more camping than glamping.
What surprised you the most about the experience?
The atmosphere is incredibly inspirational. I understand why author Jack Kerouac signed up for a three-month stint during the summer of 1956 so he could write.
Special Requirements: None, except being fit enough to reach the tower. You should also have no fear of heights.
Finding a Position: The job market is slim but if you’re flexible about location, it’s easier to find something. Check the US Forest Service for jobs. Alberta Wildfire lists jobs in Canada. If you really just want to check it out, Recreation.gov lists places all over the country where you can rent a tower and stay overnight. To volunteer, contact the individual tower you’re interested in experiencing. A list of all towers can be found on Wikipedia.