Okanogan Highlands | Priest Lake Selkirks
Colville National Forest | Salmo RNA
Location: 48.968386, -117.103014
Summit Elevation: 6,828′
Lookout Type: 10′ tower with R-6 cab
Site Established: 1927
Current Structure Built: 1964
Date Visited: 9/9/18
This remote fire lookout is the most northeastern lookout in the State, sitting just miles from both the Idaho and Canadian border. It looks out over a vast wilderness that is home to the last woodland caribou herd in the lower 48 and other wildlife such as grizzly bear and moose. The road to Salmo is the 6th highest mountain road in the state.
Photos from 2018.
Salmo Mountain in the Colville National Forest is located three miles west of the Idaho border and two miles south of Canada. Four lookouts have been on the summit, the first a pole tower with platform on the south summit with crow’s nest on the north summit sometime in the late 1920s. In 1929 a log cabin was built on the south summit with a pole platform on the north. An L-4 was constructed on the south summit in 1933, and finally the present R-6 on 10′ tower built in 1964. The lookout was last staffed in 1976.
In 2007, the lookout received lightning protection, roofing repairs, railing work and paint. It was hoped the lookout could become a rental with possible volunteer lookout duty. A grant to complete repairs was made in 2016 and in 2017, the Passport in Time program worked in cooperation with the Forest Service and members of the FFLA on further restoration work. In 2018 the lookout was subjected to serious vandalism totaling over $10,000 in damage. Law enforcement identified four suspects.
The future of Salmo remains uncertain.
It is possible to drive all the way to the summit of Salmo on road NF-270, which is the 6th highest mountain road in Washington State and 2nd highest to a lookout. The road can be a little rough the last few hundred yards so it may require some road walking. Views from the summit stretch into Canada, Washington, Idaho, and the Montana Rockies. It’s worth hiking a short distance to the north summit to get a different perspective of the lookout.
If visiting Salmo, consider visiting the other nearby lookouts in the Northeast Washington Selkirks: Sullivan, Indian, South Baldy, Timber, and Diamond Peak Patrol. Sullivan Lake also has numerous campsites and makes a beautiful overnight spot.
From Metaline Falls drive north on Highway 31 to Sullivan Lake Road. Turn right onto Sullivan Lake and drive 4.8 miles to Sullivan Creek Road (NF-22) and turn left. Follow the road 18 miles (it eventually turns into NF-2220) to NF-270 and continue another 1.6 miles to the summit of Salmo.