Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower in the San Juan National Forest - Colorado
Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower in the San Juan
National Forest - Colorado
Live a little bit of history and enjoy the incredible views
of the Four Corners with an overnight stay at the Jersey Jim
Fire Lookout Tower. Formerly used by the U.S. Forest Service
to spot wildfires, the live-in tower rises 55 feet above an
aspen-lined meadow at almost 10,000 feet in elevation. The
Jersey Jim is located in the San Juan National Forest of
History of the Jersey Jim
The Jersey Jim Lookout Tower is named after an early cattleman who ran Jersey
cattle in the area. Today, cattle are still grazed in the area under permit.
Many nearby trails were established by loggers seeking timber or by miners
accessing hard-rock ore deposits in the La Plata (Spanish for silver) Mountains.
Hesperus Peak, a sacred mountain to the Navajo Nation, is visible, as is
Sleeping Ute Mountain of the Four Corners. The Jersey Jim Lookout Tower was home
to U.S. Forest Service fire lookouts from the 1940s to 1970s. Historic log books
chronicle their experiences.
The tower was renovated and saved from demolition in 1991 by the Jersey Jim
Foundation, a nonprofit local volunteer organization, which operates and
maintains the tower under permit with the San Juan National Forest. Rental
income is earmarked for maintenance of the facility to offer this unique
experience to the American public.
The Jersey Jim can be rented for one- or two-night stays from late May to mid
October, weather permitting. The current rental rate is $40 per night. Rental
fees are used to maintain the facility. Additional contributions are welcomed.
Reservations can be made by calling 970 533-7060 between 1 – 5 p.m. Mountain
Standard Time, starting the first business day of each March (callers are
advised to be aggressive in their dialing - the entire season is often booked in
a couple of days that week). The Jersey Jim Foundation cannot return
long-distance phone calls.
Checks must be received within 14 calendar days from the date of the phone
reservation, or dates will be made available to the next caller. Make checks
payable to: Jersey Jim Foundation, PO Box 1032, Mancos CO 81328. To receive a
refund, cancellations must be received no later than 30 days in advance of the
What to Expect Once You Get There
Guests should be in sufficient physical shape to negotiate five flights of
stairs with 70 steps at high elevation. Some people experience a touch of
vertigo ascending or descending the stairs and arriving upon the deck. Once
inside the cab, or living quarters, most are at ease.
Be prepared for high-altitude weather. Daytime summertime temperatures average
75 degrees but can drop as low as 40 degrees at night and during thunderstorms.
Spring and fall temperatures are cooler, and snow and hail can occur even in
summer. The cabin is grounded so lightning is not a danger if you are in the cab
and not touching anything metal.
The one-room tower cab includes the original furniture, and propane heating and
lighting. However, there is no electricity or running water. A sink, propane
refrigerator, and oven/stove are in the kitchen area. The dining table seats
four, and there’s a double bed, and dresser. With windows all round, views are
In the middle of the cab is the historic fire finder, which early lookouts used
to spot fires, and which you can use to orient yourself to surrounding
landmarks. In the cabinet below are materials offering information about the
tower and the area.
There is no water available at the Jersey Jim, so plan to bring your own. Water
is available from a hand pump at the Transfer Campground four miles before the
tower on Forest Road #561. Services are available in the nearby town of Mancos.
For More Information:
Information on San Juan Public Lands, which include more than two million acres
of the San Juan National Forest and BLM lands surrounding the Jersey Jim, is
Dolores Public Lands Office
29211 Highway 184
Dolores, CO 81323
For vacation information:
Call 1-800-253-1616 or 1-800-525-8855