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Spend the night at a Lookout Tower - Oak Flat Lookout

Backcountry Shelter

Where can you experience camping with a view? Historical Oak Flat Lookout, overlooking the scenic Kern River, is available for daily rental. At an elevation of 4,900 feet, the lookout provides clear skies and solitude for recreational visitors.

Oak Flat Lookout was constructed in 1934 in the Greenhorn Mountains to provide fire detection views along the Kern River Canyon. Lookout towers such as Oak Flat have been used by the Forest Service for many years to spot forest fires and to provide vital communications and weather information to firefighters. In the early years of the Forest Service, lookouts provided a crucial link in wildland management, often being the only source of communication and fire detection for many miles. Most early lookouts were forest vantage points, equipped with a map board, Osborne fire-finder and mountain telephone line; some early sites were actually trees that had been topped off, with a platform and a rope ladder added. Oak Flat was on the front line of forest fire detection until 1984. Today aircraft and patrol trucks spot most fires within minutes of starting and fire lookouts are being closed.

South View of tower – US Forest Service

ADA Accessibility Notes

Not ADA accessible.

Kitchen Supplies Available (if any)

Oak Flat Lookout is pretty much self-service. We ask that you bring trashbags and haul all your trash home when cleaning up at the end of your stay. You may also want to bring paper towels. A small amount of cooking utensils and silverware should be at the lookout for your use. Remember, it is your responsibility to leave the Lookout clean and ready for the next occupants.

The lookout is equipped with an apartment size propane kitchen range, kitchen counter and sink with drain (no running water), two beds, a bucket and cleaning gear and one fire extinguisher. Because of occasional vandalism problems, the presence of these items is not guaranteed. There is an outdoor barbecue fire ring and picnic table.

The propane heater is on a thermostat and should provide adequate heat year round. Restroom facilities consist of a single vault outhouse 100 yards northwest of the lookout. Follow the split rail fence to find it.

Number of Persons Shelter Will Accommodate

The lookout cabin provides 2 twin beds inside, as well as plenty of outside camping area near the tower. The lookout will hold four adults maximum. Children are not allowed in the lookout except under the direct supervision.

Pet Friendly Notes

Pets are allowed. Be aware the stairs to the tower may not be easy for dogs to manuever - please clean up after your pet both inside and outside of the tower.

Structure Access

Oak Flat Lookout is located 25 miles east of Bakersfield. To reach the lookout, take Highway 178 to Rancheria Road. Proceed 15 miles north to road FS 27S20. The road is an improved gravel road, but you should be on alert for livestock and other traffic. The lookout is located .7 miles from the turn off. There is no guaranteed vehicle access during winter months when the road may become muddy and impassable. Oak Flat may also be reached by hiking, horseback, biking or skiing.

What to Bring

Other items can enhance your stay at Oak Flat. We recommend you take binoculars to appreciate the views from the tower. Guides, such as plant books, bird books and star gazers, can be purchased at the District Office or Bakersfield Visitor Center and help you enjoy your trip. Don't forget camera and film and any personnel items, such as books, games and toiletries. We recommend you also take sunscreen if you're planning on much time outside. Cozy is the word that describes the lookout tower and there is very limited space to store items. Everything that you take to Oak Flat is either hauled up hand-over-hand in a basket pulley system or carried up 40 steep stairs, so plan accordingly.

There is NO WATER available on site. At a minimum we recommend you take 1 gallon per person per day for adequate drinking and washing needs. The lookout cabin provides 2 twin beds inside, as well as plenty of outside camping area near the tower. You will need to bring bedding or sleeping bags for the mattresses. The weather can change suddenly and there is usually a strong wind blowing at Oak Flat, so bring adequate warm clothes. Winter visitors should plan on the possibility of snow, rain and ice. Sturdy footwear or boots are recommended for those interested in hiking and exploring the nearby area.


Nightly Rate or Fee (if any)

Rate: $75.00 per night -Reservations for the cabin should be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS) 1-877-444-6777




Shelter Warming Source

Propane or Natural Gas Heater

Nearby Places