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Sunset Mountain Lookout

Views from every direction - and even winter hiking!

Like most fire lookouts, you have views in all directions from the top of the summit at 7,869 feet.

The road leading to the lookout begins at Mores Creek Summit on Highway 21 about 13 miles north of Idaho City. As you make your way to the summit, you will be surrounded by forest until you are close to the top.

Then the trees clear away to give you views in the distance toward the Sawtooths to the northeast, the Trinity Mountains to the southeast, Schaffer Butte and Mores Mountain above Boise Basin to the southwest, and also Freeman Peak and Pilot Peak closer to you toward the northwest.

Sunset Mountain fire lookout, which is staffed every summer, is in Southwest Idaho's Boise National Forest and the Boise Mountains. Started in 1930 with a Region 5 cab, the current lookout is an R-6 flat cab that was built in 1958.

From the Idaho Statesman, January 28, 1945:

"Miss Nellie Arabaugh, Pioneerville, serving on Sunset lookout, had the thrill of a lifetime when lightning struck a tree 200 feet from the lookout. Following a peal of thunder, a shutter banged against the side of the building so hard that it broke two panes of glass. Miss Arabaugh, armed with a shovel, soon had the flaming tree under control. Her labor was interrupted only when she ran to the lookout and reported another fire a few miles away."

Getting There

There are multiple ways to get to Sunset Mountain Lookout. If you use an online mapping tool, the most likely route is the one directly below. Our plan was to visit three lookouts: Deadwood, Scott Mountain and Sunset Mountain, so the route on the second map below shows our complete "tour" of fire lookouts for this trip.

The route we took:

If you are coming north on Highway 21 from Boise, it's about 33 miles (45 minutes) to Idaho City and approximately 13 miles further north on Highway 21 to the Mores Creek Summit trailhead parking lot, near Milepost 52. If you are coming from the north, it's about 20 miles from Lowman to the Mores Creek Summit trailhead parking lot. The road (or trail) to Sunset Mountain starts from the trailhead parking lot.

Idaho City Ranger District

Hwy 21, Milepost 38.5

PO Box 129

Idaho City, ID 83631

(208) 392-6681

Lowman Ranger District

Hwy 21

HC-77, Box 3020

Lowman, ID 83637

(208) 259-3361


DISTANCE FROM STARTING POINT: One way from home was approximately 60 miles

TIME TO REACH: About 1-1/2 hours

ROAD SURFACE: Dirt road up to the lookout

WHEN ACCESSIBLE: Summer, Early Fall for 4WD to the lookout; also accessible by snowshoe in winter

FEES: None

BATHROOMS: At the trailhead parking lot

RECOMMENDED VEHICLES: 4WD or AWD with high clearance

PET FRIENDLY: Off leash is allowed

WHEN WE WENT: Early Fall

Repeater: Pilot Peak 145.310 KA7ERV

I'm Here - Now What?

  • Bring your smart phone or a GPS

  • Bring your kids!

  • Bring your dog

  • Hiking

  • Snowshoeing

  • Horseback

  • Biking

  • Camping

    • Nearby campgrounds accessible from Highway 21:

      • Ten Mile

      • Hayfork

      • Bad Bear

      • Edna Creek (north of the trailhead)

      • Also unimproved campsites and pull-offs

  • Photography

  • Wildlife and plant viewing

  • Picnicking

  • Geocaching

The following geocaches all come from

Geocache: Sunset Mountain Lookout GC1DKFQ

43.899383, -115.647617

HINT: "decon container hanging in a small tree alongside the road"

Geocache: At the End of the Road GC31TFZ

43.915967, -115.656183

"Out on an ATV ride enjoying the area and decided to hide another cache in the area. It’s an ammo can. No hints."

Geocache: WJK Cache GC2AY71

43.931500, -115.669567

"This Cache is named for my grandparents who love this area very much, nothing is better than Highway 21 and the drive to Lowman. So I thought it was appropriate to place this cache at Morris Creek Summit since it comes up in about every conversation." HINT: Stumped

Geocache: Mores Creek GC22D4

43.932883, -115.671950

"About an hour from Boise on a State Highway. The cache is located just off a secondary road to a lookout and can be reached by car. If you travel by truck, head on up the road to the lookout for a great view. The lookout is about 3 miles up, but the road is a little rough. The cache is in a red ammo can. It is placed at the base of a large tree."

To learn more about geocaching and the app, go to

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