Built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), this lookout is a 14x14 foot wooden “C-3” style cab.  The lookout, which sits at elevation 8,245 feet, is in very good condition with only slight modifications.  The windows, siding, roof and tower remain as original.  The cab has over-head shutter supports which became standard on C-3 and L-4 cabs in 1936.  This type of construction lends to its historical importance.  The lookout sits on a granite pinnacle.  Access to the cab is along stairways and walkways that are suspended from the granite or across granite outcrops.  According to Mark Swift, archaeologist who nominated The Needles to the National Historic Lookout Register, The Needles is “one of the most fantastic lookout locations in California rivaled by Buck Rock on the North end of the Forest.” 

The Needles is a Region 5 style cab, which was not widely utilized elsewhere, although a few were built in Region 3.  This lookout is significant to the development of Region 5 lookout styles as a final form of the standard 14x14 wooden live-in cabs.  Following the mid-1950’s a variety of steel wall cabs became the primary lookouts built in California.  On Mark Thornton’s 1988 “Fire Lookout Evaluation” it is rated a 26 out of a possible 30 points.

The Needles is staffed 5 days a week during fire season (closed on Monday and Tuesday) and is generally open to the public form 9:00am to 6:00 pm.

  • Location:  Township 21 South, Range 32 East, Section 7

  • Directions:  Drive 3.5 miles on FS Road 21S05 off the Western Divide Highway (190) near Quaking Aspen to the trailhead.  Hike 2.5 miles to the base of lookout, then 189 steps to top.  

  • Online Map:  Durwood Creek Quad

Copyright © 2006-21 Claud "Sonny" Rouch, all rights reserved. Website by OACYS Technology. Cover photo by Roberts Engineering.