Devils Head Fire Lookout Tower, CO (Phase II)

This project will be our only fire lookout site in 2020! The trail to the lookout is an extremely popular day hike, due in no small part to the incredible views from the top!

PROJECT PARTNER: Pike-San Isabel National Forest

SESSION DATES: August 16-21 and August 23-28

Please plan to arrive at our campsite no earlier than 6pm and no later than 8pm on the first day of your session.

PROJECT DIFFICULTY:    **The “yellow-orange” difficulty for this project primarily refers to the difficulty of the daily hike up to the lookout for project work. The project work will be relatively light.

SITE INFORMATION: Site is RV/trailer accessible Tent camping only

LOCATION: We will be camping at the Devils Head Campground just a short distance from the trail that accesses the lookout. Our campsite will be accessible to small RVs and tent campers, although there will not be hookups and the ground may not be perfectly level.

DAILY HIKE UP TO LOOKOUT: This “commute” will really be something different! The trail to the lookout gains 950 feet in elevation over 1.4 miles and ends with a climb up 143 stairs. We will be doing it daily! A person in average shape should be able to complete this hike, however, those new to Colorado or otherwise unaccustomed to the higher elevation should plan to spend 24-38 hours in Denver to acclimate before the project starts.

ABOUT VOLUNTEERING: HistoriCorps projects are free for volunteers! HistoriCorps will provide all meals, tools, training, and equipment, and a campsite. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the campsite, sleeping equipment, work clothes and boots, and other personal gear. Most projects have one spot per session for a “Kitchen Helper” in addition to our project work volutneer spots. Scroll down to read more and register!

HistoriCorps does not charge for its volunteering projects. The majority of project costs are covered by our project partners and grants, but as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, 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.

Project Site Description & History

The Devils Head Fire Lookout was established in 1912 and its original tower was built in 1919. In this same year, massive changes were taking place across the world: The Treaty of Versailles officially ended WWI, and in the United States, women gained the right to vote, Prohibition was enacted, and more than 25 race riots were held across the country that summer – the Chicago Race Riots being the most severe. The country at the time was also finally recovering from the 1918 H1N1 pandemic.

During that time in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, several improvements were being made. The road up to Pikes Peak (14,110′) was completed in 1915 and tourists flocked to the opportunity to drive up this “fourteener.” Wildfire and land management practices continued to improve, and constructing and staffing fire look out towers like Devils Head was part of a larger forest strategy.

Modern fire management technology has surpassed the need for historic fire lookout towers like Devils Head. Many lookout towers have been torn down, turned into overnight rentals, or left in states of disrepair. Devils Head, located at the top of the Rampart Range, is unique in that it is still staffed and cared for by the forest and partner organizations like HIstoriCorps.

This August, volunteers will be helping to repair and restore 19 windows at the lookout, some of which were damaged in wind events in recent years.

The video below from Super Innermost offers inspiring drone footage from a sunrise hike up to the lookout.

This photo from TripAdvisor.com gives an idea of the stair-climbing required to access the lookout! Those with an average level of fitness will be able to manage this hike.

Aspen trees line the trail up to Devils Head Lookout in this photo shared by DayHikesNearDenver.com

Volunteers will become very familiar with window anatomy on this project.

Volunteering Safely During COVID-19

MASKS All volunteers are required to bring at least six reusable, washable face masks. Volunteers will wear two masks each day (one for camp, one for the jobsite). They will be washed once throughout the project. Masks are required for when working less than 6 feet apart, or in an enclosed environment.
GLOVES All volunteers are required to bring their own work gloves.
HEALTHY ARRIVAL Volunteers will only join projects if they are not experiencing any symptoms of illness, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, muscle aches, or other symptoms of COVID-19 as identified by the CDC. Volunteers will not plan to travel to or through areas highly impacted by COVID-19, nor outside of the US, within 14 days before their project begins. Volunteers will affirm that they do not believe they have been exposed to a person with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19, are not waiting to be cleared as noncontagious following a diagnosis, and have been following all recommended guidelines as much as possible by practicing social distancing and taking other precautions. Volunteers will travel to the jobsite alone, or with someone they live with (such as a family member) who has also shown no signs or symptoms of illness.
IN CASE OF INFECTION Any volunteer or staff member that developes COVID-19 symptoms must immediately self-isolate and leave the jobsite. If the individual is physically unable to do so, staff will follow Wilderness First Aid guidelines for medevac.
FOLLOWING HISTORICORPS PROTOCOLS All volunteers are required to abide by and practice the health and safety protocols that HistoriCorps staff are implementing.
CREW SIZE CAP All volunteer crews will be “capped” at a maximum of six volunteers.

Scope of Work

Learning and working alongside expert HistoriCorps field staff, volunteers will restore 19 windows that suffer from failing glazing putty (the material that holds panes of glass in place), sun damage, cracked wood elements and glass, and more. Because windows are such complex building features, volunteers will get to use and learn a lot of different skills when working on different parts of a window (see the window anatomy illustration above).

  • Remove window sashes and install temporary polycarbonate window coverings:  5%
  • Repair damaged wood elements of sashes:  20%
  • Reglaze windows:  30%
  • Repaint wood window elements to match existing color scheme:  20%
  • Repair window hinges:  5%
  • Reinstall our newly restored windows:  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.

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 and COVID-19 Protocols first! Please note the following logistics and policies:

  • 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, including 6+ reusable cloth face masks, 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 medium-large 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.
  • Volunteers are asked to arrive after 6pm and before 8pm on the first day of their session. If you would like to request special permission to arrive early, please email volunteer@historicorps.org.
  • 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.
  • Dogs are generally allowed to accompany their humans to jobsites (actually, we love having dogs join us around the campfire!). 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.

Sign Up!

We’re thrilled this project has inspired you to volunteer! Registration will open soon. All sessions are capped at a strict maximum of 6 volunteers, including the Kitchen Helper.