Buck Mountain Fire Lookout Tower, AZ 2022
Buck Mountain Fire Lookout Tower, AZ 2022

Buck Mountain Fire Lookout Tower, AZ 2022

Buck Mountain Fire Lookout Tower, AZ 2022

Fire lookout towers like this one hold a special place in American history. Enjoy the view on this project, and know that your work will serve not only the forest’s past, but its future.

PROJECT PARTNER:  Coconino National Forest

SESSION DATES:  May 8-13, May 15-20, May 22-27, and May 29 – June 3


CREW LEADER: Daniel Ensalaco

Views from the project site.

Project Site Description & History

The Buck Mountain Fire Lookout Tower was built in 1939 and was used seasonally to detect and report wildfires. In 2003 the Forest performed major rehabilitation of the lookout that required replacement of the catwalk and stairway, cabin walls, a tower support member and the installation of lighting protection. The Ranger District no longer actively uses the lookout for surveillance and fire prevention and proposes to reuse the historic lookout as a recreation facility for public lodging as part of the Forest Service Arizona Cabin Rental Program. Currently, the lookout requires maintenance and repairs to make it safe for public use. Once the fire lookout tower is repaired and approved as a recreational cabin rental, it will be the only historic lookout available to the public for lodging in the Southwest region. The lookout rental will provide a unique opportunity for the public and sustainable stewardship of a NRHP listed historic facility.
Fire lookout towers like this were once critical assets in the fight against forest fires. Today, advances in fire management technology have rendered lookouts relics of the past, and just a handful of fire lookouts are still actively staffed. Because they offer incredible views and are often located in spectacular areas, fire towers are often popular destinations for hikers, and several are even available for overnight guests – imagine sleeping thirty feet off the ground! Today it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and could, with some HistoriCorps TLC, one day be opened up to the public for rent.
The lookout tower is located just 40 miles south of Flagstaff along the Mogollon Rim (pronounced muggy-on or muggy-own), which stretches 200 miles and rises 2,000 feet from the landscape. The traditional homeland of the Hohokam, Hopi, Hopitutskwa, and Western Apache peoples, the Rim is a celebrated destination for folks seeking it cooler climes during scorching southern summers. It offers expansive pine forests and several fishing areas along with miles of hiking, biking, and horse-riding trails. The Rim itself features sedimentary, volcanic and metamorphic rock dating as far back as the Precambrian era (Earth’s oldest).
There are few experiences that inspire awe in the landscapes around us as much as climbing a mountain, mesa, or fire tower. Enjoy the view on this project, and know that your work will serve not only the forest’s past, but its future.

Location and Logistics

SESSION DATES: May 8-13, and May 15-20, May 22-27. May 29 – June 3. Please plan to arrive at the campsite no earlier than 5pm and no later than 7pm on the first day of your session. High-clearance vehicles are required to access the campsite. HistoriCorps will be able to shuttle volunteers with low-clearance vehicles from the Mogollon Rim Ranger Station, but space is limited for this option. Volunteers requiring a shuttle should plan to leave their vehicles at the Mogollon Rim Ranger Station for the entirety of the project week. Please coordinate with our Workforce Manager (kward@historicorps.org) if you require a shuttle. Volunteers seeking this option MUST meet at 4:45pm promptly to shuttle to the campsite. Cellphone service will be spotty to none.

LOCATION:  We will camp right onsite!

·       MAP to CAMPSITE (same as project site)

ACCESS:    Tent camping only 

Access to our campground will require vehicles with hi-clearance. No RV spaces will be provided, There are no hookups and the ground may not be perfectly level. There will be restrooms and potable water onsite.

WEATHER:  Anticipate highs in the mid 60s and lows in the mid 40s. Weather conditions may be rainy, cloudy, or sunny. Volunteers are responsible for checking weather conditions before their session begins, and packing appropriately.

ABOUT VOLUNTEERING: HistoriCorps projects are free for volunteers! HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the campsite, sleeping equipment, work gloves, clothes and boots, and other personal gear.

Scope of Work


HistoriCorps is committed to educating and training volunteers in preservation skills, with an overarching mission of inspiring a preservation ethic in all those involved. Learning and working alongside expert HistoriCorps field staff, volunteers and learned these traditional skills necessary to restore several elements of the Buck Mountain Fire Lookout Tower. Volunteers should anticipate working at altitude (over 7,000 ft), the physical demands of climbing up and down stairs, and exposure to heights.

  • Replace wooden stair treads – 15%
  • Replace wooden catwalk decking and railings – 15%
  • Rehabilitate shutters – 5%
  • Misc carpentry repairs to lookout cab – 10%
  • Apply exterior finishes – paint and wood preservative – 15%
  • Refinish interior floor and furniture – 10%
  • Paint interior walls – 10%
  • Rehabilitate windows – Dutchman repairs to wood elements, replace broken glass panes, reglaze sashes – 20%

Please note: Tasks vary by day and by week, depending on a variety of factors including: weather, project priorities, previous groups’ work, and more. Though it is likely you will get to learn and practice most or all of the above tasks, it is not guaranteed. The higher percentage of the scope a particular task is, the more likely you will get to practice it.

Sign Up!

We’re thrilled this project has inspired you to volunteer! Choose your session and register below:

You will know your registration was successful when you receive a confirmation email. Contact volunteer@historicorps.org for assistance.

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. HistoriCorps relies on donations to continue engaging volunteers to save significant historical sites across America for generations to come. Your donation of any amount will make an incredible difference! Increase your impact – make a generous gift today.

Volunteer Logistics, Policies, and Advice

We’re so glad you’re interested in joining this project! If you’re new to our community, review the Volunteer FAQ first! Please note the following logistics and policies:

  • HistoriCorps is committed to keeping our volunteers, staff, and project communities safe. All volunteers will be required to affirm that they will be fully vaccinated from the Covid-19 virus by the time their project begins. Read our Covid protocols here (updated October 2021).
  • Volunteering with HistoriCorps is free! We will provide all meals, tools, training, equipment, and a campsite or shared indoor lodging. Dinner is not provided on the first night.
  • Volunteers are responsible for bringing their own gear, work gloves, sturdy work clothes and boots, and appropriate sleeping equipment. Check the average temperatures before you start packing – the nights and mornings may be colder than you anticipate! Then, read this advice about how to stay warm when tent camping in colder places.
  • Campsite accessibility varies by project. Some projects can accommodate tents only; others can accommodate small RVs. Please review the project site description above for more information, and if you’re still not sure, email volunteer@historicorps.org for help.
  • If this project does not offer showers, you might want to consider bringing a solar shower or research other methods to clean up after the work day.
  • Volunteer crew sizes generally range from 4-8 volunteers, with two HistoriCorps staff that lead and train volunteers in the work.
  • Safety is one of HistoriCorps’ top priorities, and volunteers can contribute to a safe working environment by ensuring their physical fitness is adequate for the work. See above for this project’s scope of work and difficulty level. Please, call us if you are not quite sure if a project is a good fit for your skills or fitness level. We may be able to suggest a project more suitable and enjoyable for you.
  • Hard hats, eye protection, ear protection, gloves are standard personal protection equipment (PPE) required on all projects. Hard hats must be worn at all times on the project site, unless working in a designated safe space. Field staff will train volunteers on correct use of PPE.
  • Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans in project campsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). Dogs are not permitted on the job site for everyone's safety. HOWEVER: HistoriCorps also follows the rules and regulations of our project partner. If the project partner does not permit dogs onsite then HistoriCorps is no exception. Please ask HistoriCorps or the project partner directly if you have any questions about whether Fido is welcome.