Looking for a unique getaway this winter?
You’ve probably seen winter escapes that include toasty cabin fires, starry skies, and the coziest blankets you’ve ever seen (you know the ones we’re talking about, the faux fur, melt-in-a-puddle-of-softness kind).
BUT, you’ve probably also noticed that many of these places are private, too secluded, or just too far away. What’s a Northwest dreamer to do??
We’re here to reveal that you can experience the beauty of winter in a magical getaway…and it’s in our own backyard!
For all you PNW lovers, Berty and I are excited to share about Crystal Peak Lookout – a vintage fire lookout experience (conveniently on Airbnb!) that’s close enough for an easy weekend away in the Pacific Northwest.
Let’s get cozy!
Remeber to save these on Pinterest for more Idaho travel inspiration!
A Winter Stay At Crystal Peak Lookout
This post is the product of an enjoyable stay at the Crystal Peak Lookout on Airbnb. As happy reviewers, we thought we would share our experience with you here on the blog!
History of Crystal Peak Lookout
The Fire Lookout cabin was built in 1959 in Eastern Washington.
It was moved to make room for the new tower built in 1983, and sold to Dave Kresek for $1 under the condition of removal from the property within 30 days. He succeeded and transported the cabin to its new home on Crystal Ridge just outside of Fernwood, Idaho.
In 2017, Kristie Wolfe purchased the property, built the deck, and remodeled the inside of the cabin. She also relocated the shed and turned it into a sauna!
The tower sits 24 feet above the ground and is around 4700 feet above sea level. On a clear day or night, you can see the glow of the tiny town of Fernwood below the trees!
Ready to stay here? Click here for the listing!
Our Snowy Weekend at Crystal Peak Lookout
Where Is Crystal Peak Lookout?
Like stated above, Crystal Peak Lookout is located just outside of the tiny little town of Fernwood, Idaho. It’s about a two-hour drive from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and a similar 2-hour drive from Spokane, Washington.
On the way, there is little to no cell service, but Kristie provides easy-to-follow directions that are included in your booking.
A 4WD vehicle is recommended when visiting and in the summertime, you can drive all the way up to the foot of the lookout. However, in the winter, the roads are too snowy to drive. Because of snow, you are only able to drive about 10 minutes up the mountain until you need to pull over and leave your car.
This is why Kristie decided to purchase a vintage SnowCat to take guests up the rest of the way!
The SnowCat driver George met us at our meeting point to take us up the rest of the way. He was happily waiting for us when we arrived!
Riding in the SnowCat
The SnowCat is a new feature of the Airbnb experience, and it’s meant to help transport guests up to the lookout in deep snow.
Inside the SnowCat, you will find cozy blankets, snowshoes, and spiked hot cocoa. Usually, a seat on a SnowCat tour is very pricey on any mountain resort, but this ride is just a small addon to the Airbnb’s winter price, and you get one all to yourself!
After a 30-40 minute ride through the magical snowy forest, you will be dropped off at the base of the driveway.
Read More: Take a SnowCat to a mountain top hut for dinner in McCall, Idaho!
Getting Up To The Lookout
Now because of the steepness and sharp turns of the driveway to Crystal Peak Lookout, the SnowCat isn’t able to take you the entire way. The remaining 10% of the path needs to be taken on foot.
George, the caretaker, equipped us with proper snowshoes and a sled to put our items in up the hill.
We’re not going to try and downplay this part – it was HARD! If you’re coming in the winter, we suggest packing light, because we were both pretty sore from carrying our stuff up the steep quarter-mile driveway.
Read More: The Complete Winter Travel Packing List
In the end, the hike was worth it because of the magical winter surprises around every corner!
FEATURES/AMENITIES AT CRYSTAL PEAK LOOKOUT
Now that we made it to the lookout, it’s time to give you a tour! Here’s what you can expect in the winter at the Crystal Peak Lookout.
The Red Fire Lookout
The fire lookout is 24 feet above the ground, with two flights of stairs and a trap door to enter into the main cabin.
Inside the nearly 200 square foot space is 1 queen bed, a wood-burning stove, foldable chairs, a sink, portable butane burner, and a foldable table. Also, there is a surprisingly large amount of storage and a lot of counter space!
Kristie thought of everything when she was curating Crystal Peak Lookout. From the little library of outdoor books and Idaho authors to the weather log and binoculars for guests to use, this place made us immediately feel at home.
Want Another Mountaintop Escape? Stay In A Yurt Near Boise, Idaho
You can find more pictures of all the perspectives of the inside on Kristie’s Airbnb listing.
All of Kristie’s adorable Airbnbs are off-grid and without wifi, including Crystal Peak Lookout. However, if you have strong enough cell coverage, you may be able to catch a cell signal since you’re all the way up at 4700-feet elevation.
Read More: 12 Amazing Pacific Northwest Cabins To Rent This Season
To our surprise, when we shared this photo on Instagram, many of you asked about the bathroom situation! It’s a compostable outhouse, just steps away from the fire lookout.
The outhouse has everything you might need, including hand sanitizer, TP, and even sawdust to dump in the bucket to keep any smells at bay! Plus, it’s just so darn cute.
While we did have to get on our snow boots every time we needed to pee, it wasn’t as inconvenient as you might expect.
The sauna was one of the highlights of our trip at Crystal Peak Lookout. Berty and I were looking forward to being toasty warm inside and watching the snow fall outside.
We’re happy to report that it was absolutely magical – a must-do for anyone visiting during the winter!
It took about 45 minutes for us to get it to 100 degrees, but the patience was really worth it in the end.
If you dare, you can even alternate getting hot in the sauna and cooling down by diving into the snow outside!
Note: If you look at the Airbnb listing online, this sauna actually has a deck with two chairs a fire pit, and a fillable outdoor bucket shower. Obviously, we didn’t use these amenities because they were buried in snow, but summer visitors will be lucky!
Tips On Your Own Winter Stay at Crystal Peak Lookout
Bring Warm Clothing
It will get toasty in the evenings as you tend to the fire, but mornings may be a bit chilly once the fire has died down. Bring plenty of clothing layers for winter, and a big cozy sweater for indoors, and a well-insulated coat for outside.
Berty and I also brought two pairs of shoes each – one pair of slippers and a pair of snow boots. Both, we feel, were absolutely essential.
Pack proper snow gear if you plan to explore the grounds. This means gaiters for your boots, a thin pair of gloves, a pair of outer snow gloves, a wool cap, and maybe even hand warmers.
Looking for some cozier things to pack? Here’s our complete cabin packing list!
Relax In The Sauna
There are so many reasons to enjoy a sauna in the winter time. Saunas have been used for thousands of years to improve health, reduce stress, and ease aches and pains.
Turn on the candles in the salt lamps, create a little steam over the fire, and enjoy an afternoon in the sauna with the snow falling outside!
Shoot the Stars
One of our favorite nights at Crystal Peak Lookout was when we were playing with night photography.
While we didn’t catch any stars due to the snow, we ended up playing with the lights to make some pretty cool effects.
For this photo below, Berty set up our camera on a tripod, and I was inside the lookout turning on all the lights and shining a flashlight all over the inside. We also put our Lume Cubes out on the corners of the deck to look like beacons.
We think it turned out pretty cool! We hope you get the chance to experience night shooting at Crystal Peak Lookout – maybe even see a shooting star!
Take a Winter Hike
The scenery here at Crystal Peak Lookout is absolutely magical. We highly suggest grabbing a pair of snowshoes and wandering down some trails.
Kristie even encourages a practice called “Forest Bathing“ where one uses all their senses to experience a therapeutic walk through nature. The area around the fire lookout is the perfect place to experience this process.
Read More: 101 Adventurous Things To Do In The Pacific Northwest
Bring Simple and Quick Meals
Berty and I suggest bringing meals that are quick and simple to prepare. There is a one-burner camp stove to use, the fire to cook your meals, and also a kettle to boil water.
The water supply can be limited, so reducing the number of dishes required for meal preparation will help you conserve more water when cleaning up.
Here are some simple meal ideas:
- Potatoes, veggies, and meat wrapped in tin foil and cooked in the fire.
- Instant oatmeal
- bagels and cream cheese
- prepared sandwiches
- Peelable fruit and pre-cut veggies
Read More: 10+ Easy Camping Recipes To Make On The Road
How Can I Stay at Crystal Peak Lookout?
You can book your own stay at Crystal Peak Lookout on Airbnb. We encourage you to reserve your ideal dates in advance, as this is a very popular place that books out quickly!
Don’t forget to check out the listing here to find more information, photos, and get in touch with Kristie to ask more questions.
If it’s your first time booking a place on Airbnb, we’ve got a $40 off code just for you by clicking here!
Have you experienced Crystal Peak Lookout? Follow us on Instagram to see more photos from here, and tag us to see your photos too!
MORE UNIQUE STAYS IN THE PNW + NEARBY ADVENTURES
Plan a Trip To Experience the Route of the Hiawatha Bike Trail
13 Incredible Cabins To Rent In The Pacific Northwest
Glamping In A North Idaho Forest Yurt
12+ Incredible Things To Do In Twin Falls, Idaho
Kootenai Falls Suspension Bridge Detour Through Montana
Cabin By The River in Washington
Pin these on Pinterest to save some winter travel inspiration for later!
2 thoughts on “Crystal Peak Lookout: Your Epic Stay In An Idaho Fire Lookout”
WOW. Just WOW.
Haha Thanks Liz! I’m so glad you liked it!
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