Glacier National Park Officials Want To Stablize Heavens Peak Lookout

Glacier National Park officials are proposing to rehabilitate the historic Heavens Peak Lookout. NPS photos.

If you knew where to look, you could spot the old fire lookout tower atop Heavens Peak in Glacier National Park. It's there, albeit in a somewhat deteriorating condition, as you might expect after 65 years. That's why park officials want to develop a stabilization plan to shore-up the historic tower built by conscientious objectors during World War II.

The goal of the project, park officials say, is to repair the Heavens Peak lookout so it can stand for another 20 years. The work would slow down the accelerating deterioration so that this historic structure can remain on the landscape as part of Glacier’s cultural history, they add.

Constructed in 1945, the Heavens Peak Lookout was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 and embodies the NPS rustic design philosophy of buildings that are “harmonious” with the landscape. The lookout is located on Heavens Peak, within recommended wilderness inside Glacier National Park. It lies within an area of high grizzly bear density.

Park officials say the lookout is structurally sound at this time, but that the deteriorating roof and missing shutters threaten its long-term survival. The proposed project, estimated to cost $80,000 and funded in large part by the Glacier National Park Fund, is being reviewed under an environmental assessment. The scope of work calls for repairs to the roof, shutters and exposed exterior wood surfaces, painting of the exterior, and stabilization of the masonry.

The park's proposal would not, however, include blazing a trail to the lookout to make it easier for park visitors to see this piece of the past. While folks can bushwhack through alder forests to reach the lookout, relatively few currently do because of the daunting task.

In addition to the proposed action, two other alternatives have been identified to date: 1) no action, in which case the lookout would eventually be lost, and 2) rehabilitation that would fully rehabilitate the lookout and re-build the trail access to the lookout.

Comments and concerns on the proposed Heavens Peak Stabilization project should be submitted online by Monday, August 16, at http://www.parkplanning.nps.gov/glac or mailed to: Superintendent, Glacier National Park, Heavens Peak Lookout EA, P.O. Box 128, West Glacier, MT 59936. There will be another opportunity for review and comment when the environmental assessment is completed.

Traveler's recommendation: Restore the lookout and maintain a trail so park visitors can more easily see this historic facility. Currently, you can spy the lookout from the Granite Park Chalet and from a point along "the Loop" of the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Or you can bushwhack up the mountainside.

Comments


I have been keeping track of the ongoings of the Heaven's Peak Lookout project; hoping that something different than their original approach would be undertaken.
I have been lucky enough to have hiked to the Lookout on a number of occasions. During the 70's I hiked on the old trail but the last time I was at the Lookout in the early 2000's the trail was almost impossible lto find.
I still think the best approach is to rebuild the trail, using mostly volunteer labor. I am sure that there would be many that would love the chance to work on that project; me included.
After the Lookout is rebuilt it could be opened to volunteer workers to keep it maintained during the summer; painting etc.
I think to rebuild the Lookout without first addressing the trail is a big mistake. I do know it would be a big undertaking to rebuild the trail but am sure it could be done.
This is a project that could set a good example of management working with volunteers to continue to keep this old lookout standing proudly once again.
Thankyou for giving us an opportunity to express our concerns.
Donald Stolte
298 Blanchard Lake Road
Whitefish, Mt. 59937

The increased activity with the old lookout will probably encourage more hikers to visit the area. It's time to re-establish a good trail. I would love to hike to the lookout as I've never done so, but it would be safer with a trail. Not only can hikers share information about dangers ahead, but also if someone gets hurt, it won't be long until another hiker passes by and could offer assistance.