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“Rustic paradise”
Review of Bald Knob Lookout

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Bald Knob Lookout
Reviewed 13 December 2015

If you are looking for a unique, rustic experience look no further. 3 girlfriends rented the look out for a weekend and we had a wonderful time. The views are spectacular. I especially liked waking up in the morning and seeing the fog hanging over the land below and watching the sun rise over it all.

Stayed: April 2015
1  Thank NellieSue307
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 16 August 2014

I came here in October of 2009, a couple of weeks off a devastating breakup of a longterm relationship, so I wanted to be alone. Really REALLY alone. I booked 4 nights midweek last minute for $35/night. I wanted a really high lookout, like 60 feet because I thought that would be so cool! However, this tower, 21 feet off the ground, turned out to be more than adequate. It was in the Siskiyou Forest on the mountaintop way above the Rogue River (which you cannot see), a wilderness bracketed by the ocean and the 5 freeway.

It took a really long time to get up just the winding, 2-lane highways to stop by the Forest Service Office. Though after hours, they left the paperwork for me under the welcome mat (in a plastic sleeve to protect it from the damp!) with the code to the lock and the map. I blew through Powers, the closest thing to a town near the lookout, late in the day before remembering I needed to bring all water that I might need with me. There's one little grocery store there, and they close early, but I got a couple of big jugs and continued on. It's like 15 more miles to the lookout, but it'll take close to 45 more minutes to get there, most of it on a nicely paved beautiful road, but the last third is a narrow dirt road. You'll go through woods, through a gate (it's not locked but there's a clasp, and you must get out, open it, drive through, and re-latch it). After the first gate the road comes out on a large unforested hillside covered with high brush for a couple of miles, then back into the deep woods, through a second gate like the first, and finally around a sharp corner and there's Bald Knob.

Oddly enough, at each junction I turned and by the first gate, there were people living in an RV and a trailer. I didn't actually see people, but obviously people were camped there long-term. It was kind of unsettling, but oh well.

Once I arrived, I brought all my stuff up to the top of the lookout, which ended up being quite a haul up the hill and then two flights of stairs through the trapdoor. I repositioned the car to face downhill toward the entrance to the tunnel of trees back to civilization. I got settled into the lookout just as dusk was falling, and the 360 degree view was breathtaking.

Then I turned my head to the west ridge and watched a sea of storm clouds come over the ridge line and fall like a giant wave to the valley below me as the reception bars on my cellphone disappeared one after the other blip, blip, blip, like that until they were all gone. And that was it for communication for the rest of my visit. So I was truly alone, except for a crank up storm radio I brought which mostly broadcast the national marine forecasts.

The heater, small fridge, stove and 2 lamps are all propane-driven, and there are instructions on how to turn on the main tank that sits below you and light everything. I'd never seen a propane fridge, but it was awesome. There's a sink, but no water, so I propped the 2.5-gallon jug in the corner behind the sink for "running" water. The pipe drops straight to the ground. The room was 16 feet square. There was a single twin bed, futon couch/bed, shelves, a table and chairs, and a counter for a kitchenette and a broom to clean up. In the center of the room is the Alidade table on top of a stand for locating the position of fires should you spot one. Which is kind of part of your job while you're there.

When I was there I didn't have a lot of energy to waste on keeping an eye out for fires, what with the rain lashing the windows most of the entire time I was there. Also I was keeping busy spending my days crying, reading breakup self-help books and writing in my journal. (Don't worry, I'm looking back and laughing as I write this!) And doing a little yoga, because there's a decent amount of floorspace. I just unrolled my giant sleeping bag on the bed because it was right next to the heater and looked out on my car and the "front yard." My first night the storm was hellacious. That's when I began to be glad I was only 21 feet off the ground.

The winds were so strong the tower shuddered and swayed all night. I feared the gas line would be ripped apart so I turned the propane off in the night. There's a locked shed under the tower for Forest Service use, and I spent all night listening to doors banging and things rolling across the metal roof above me. The windows rattled. I tried to use a powerful flashlight to spot my CR-V, because I wondered how I could get help if the wind blew it over on it's side! The wind was THAT strong.

When I went to sleep, I was not sure I could lift the heavy 10 foot long trapdoor up and was unsure if I was supposed to leave it raised, so I propped it up in an open position. It came down in the middle of the night with a crash. I'm damned lucky the hasp stayed up and wedged open when it did...had it been down it may have reconnected and left me trapped upstairs! Turned out there's a clever counterweight system that makes the trapdoor easy to raise from above, so close it! Hasp raised! This is important unless you relish climbing down the thick beams to get out.

Through that night I was convinced I would be heading downhill in the morning to to tell the FS their tower was destroyed, but in the morning nothing even seemed out of place! I guess it's been standing there since 1934, so it was built to last. Just something to think about if you were in a really high tower or have motion sickness. Don't forget the Dramamine! This baby moves a LOT. You get used to it. I spent 3 days going from one violent storm to another, with occasional dry period, but the winds just don't stop. I had no reception, but occasionally I would look up and see the clouds had parted, like giant curtains, and the views were endless! Then I would snatch up my camera and make the circuit on the catwalk around my glass room.

At one point on my third day I looked up from my book as I lay on the bed and saw a pickup just turning around and driving away. Obviously someone who was lost, but seeing as they had to go through 2 gates, it made me a little nervous, as a woman alone. But nothing else happened. The worst part, especially with the rains was that the bathroom (a plastic outhouse) is about 100 feet away, down 2 flights of stairs and a hill, into a clearing on the edge of the trees. The first time I used it the wind knocked the door open in the middle. The worst part of that was the door holds the paper roll! And the rain started soaking it. That part was not pleasant, so I eased up on liquids for a few days and made the kidneys work overtime!

By evening 3 I was pretty fed up with my luck on weather. And the total solitude. It was time to move one to shopping therapy and some better food. I loaded up the car first thing after breakfast, cleaned up, locked up and left one day early. It took an hour of descent before I got UNDER some clouds and to Bandon before the sun shone for the first time in days.

But I totally loved my 3 days and nights in a lookout tower and learned a lot about what that life is like. I remembered the wind is pretty much of a constant thing at the top of a bald mountaintop, and that lookout towers move like treehouses, swaying in strong winds, but it's way stronger than it looks! If they could just put in running water and a bathroom, I'd move in. I did spend some time reading through the guestbooks and left my own thoughts, then donated some pens for the next guests. Well worth this easy adventure!

Room Tip: Remember the higher you are, the more you move and the farther the bathroom. You can never have eno...
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled solo
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3  Thank native210
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 February 2014

It's a long trip up dirt roads to get here, but once you do it's like you're the only person in the world. The tower is at the tippy-top of a mountain so you have spectacular views in all directions. However, there is nowhere to walk or hike except down the road you came up.

Note that (relatively) nearby Powers does not have gas. The nearest gas station was in Myrtle Point.

I caught a rare warm week at the tower at the beginning of August. It wasn't even windy, which I think is unusual. There was some fog in the valleys for some of the time, but mostly there were uninterrupted views. The stars at night were spectacular.

Room Tip: The tower has two twin beds. Bring a camping mattress if you want something bigger or more sleeping...
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  • Stayed: August 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Gina K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 August 2011

We stayed at the Bald Knob Lookout August 4th and 5th of 2011. It was a long drive from our home in Sumner, Washington and felt even longer when we encountered the last leg of our trip, a gravel USFS road to the lookout that was strewn with the remnants of trees from logging. For some reason, I thought the road would be paved and our little Prius would be fine. But, I was mistaken, and the last five miles of our road trip were the most difficult. But, thanks to the expert driving skills of my husband, we managed the gravel gauntlet and made it to the top.

When we got to the lookout we were not disappointed. The cabin is about 16' by 16' and has a catwalk that goes all around. It was equipped with a propane stove, refrigerator, a double futon, a twin bed, and propane lights. I tried desperately to get my airbed up, but you would really need a rope to hoist it over the rail, as the corners are too tight to get a blown up mattress around. There is also a fire pit, a flag pole, and a picnic table. There is a vault toilet about 100 feet from the building.

Our first night was rather chilly, but we survived since we were all snuggled up together, two to each bed.

The morning greeted us with views like I have never seen before. I awoke to a sea of clouds with little mountain islands poking through. The clouds from the ocean were moving from Eden Valley, which lies on one side of the lookout, to the Rouge River Valley, which is on the other. As the day progressed, the clouds cleared out and the Valleys below appeared.

The sunset was another beautiful wonder. Pictures to follow.

The night sky was also amazing. I don't know if there was a meteor shower while we were there or what, but I saw several shooting stars in the middle of the night. You can literally just open your eyes in bed, gaze out the windows, and watch the night sky.

I should state that we are not a family that camps much at all. We love hiking and the outdoors, but we always manage to stay in a nice hotel near the sites that we want to explore. We also have two teens that are used to having T.V. and Wi-fi, but I will say we were amazed. It is like the serenity of our surroundings enveloped us. We enjoyed things like putting together a puzzle, roasting marshmallows, watching the sunset, and marveling at cloud formations. If you want a good family bonding experience where you can enjoy beautiful views and total serenity, Bald Knob Lookout is for you.

P.S. The place is surrounded by Rhododendrons as is the forest nearby. It would be amazing in late May or June when they are in full bloom.

  • Stayed: August 2011, travelled with family
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3  Thank angelakatydid
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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Additional Information about Bald Knob Lookout

Address: 42861 Highway 242, Powers, OR 97466-9700
Region: United States > Oregon > Powers
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Speciality Lodging in Powers

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