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Hiking & Walking: Colorado > San Juan National Forest > Mancos-Dolores Ranger District

Quick Facts

Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower

Reservation Contact: (970) 533-7060, 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, Monday-Friday, starting the first business day each March Jersey Jim Foundation, P.O. Box 1032, Mancos, CO 81328
Reservation Status: Required

Outfitters and Guides

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General Description

Live a little bit of history and enjoy an incredible view in Southwestern Colorado with an overnight stay at the Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower. Formerly used to detect fires, the live-in tower rises from an aspen-lined meadow in the San Juan National Forest at almost 10,000 feet above sea level. The Jersey Jim was home to U.S. Forest Service fire lookouts from the 1940s to the 1970s. An historic log book inside its cab, or living quarters, chronicles their experiences.

The Tower was renovated and saved from demolition in 1991 by the Jersey Jim Foundation, a nonprofit volunteer organization, which operates and maintains the Tower under permit with the San Juan National Forest. The Tower cab includes the original furniture and propane heating and lighting. Guests must bring their own supplies. Water is available from a hand pump at Transfer Campground four miles before the Tower on Forest Road # 561. Water and supplies can be hoisted up to the cab via a pulley. Visitors are asked to follow basic rules of sanitation. Trash should be bagged and removed from the premises.

Hiking and scenic driving opportunities abound nearby. Visitors should be prepared for high altitude conditions. Summertime temperatures average 75 degrees but can drop as low as 40 degrees at night or during thunderstorms. Available within an hour's drive via U.S. Hwy. 160 (part of the San Juan Skyway) are Mesa Verde National Park, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Train, and the Anasazi Heritage Center.

Information on the San Juan National Forest and nearby attractions can be found at the Mancos Visitor Center and Dolores Ranger District just minutes away. Gas, groceries, hardware, motels, restaurants, churches, and medical services are also available in Mancos.

The Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower may be rented for one or two-night stays from late May to mid-October, weather permitting. The current rental rate is $40.00 per night. Rental fees are used to maintain the facilities. Additional contributions are welcomed. Reservations can be made by calling (970) 533-7060 between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., Mountain Standard Time, Monday through Friday, starting the first business day each March.

Checks must be received within 14 calendar days from the date of the phone reservation, or dates will be made available to the next caller. Make checks payable to:

Jersey Jim Foundation
P.O. Box 1032
Mancos, CO 81328

Cancellations must be received no later than 30 days in advance of the reserved date. A processing fee will be charged for all refunds. To pick up keys to the Tower and safety forms for signature, bring your confirmation postcard to the designated site between noon and 6:00 p.m. seven days a week. Checkout time is 12:00 noon. The key should be returned to the drop box the same day.

The Jersey Jim Foundation regrets that we cannot return long distance calls.

For vacation information of the area, please call:
1-800-253-1616--Mesa Verde Country and Mancos

Since the cab and deck are 55 feet above the ground, visitors to the cab do so at their own risk and must observe the following Safety Rules:

-Groups occupying the Tower overnight are restricted to a maximum of four persons, including at least one adult over 21 years of age.
-Children under 8 years old are not allowed on the Tower.
-Smoking, alcoholic beverages, drugs, fireworks, or firearms are not permitted in or around the Tower.
-Climbing the Tower structure outside of the enclosed stairs is forbidden.
-Nothing is to be thrown from the Tower deck.
-Sleeping on the deck, sitting on the railing, horseplay or unruly behavior is prohibited.
-Use hand rail when ascending or descending stairs.
-During lightning storms, stay in the cab and do not touch metal furnishings.
-Instructions for lighting propane lamps and stove, and additional information on lighting are provided in the Information Manual at the Tower, and should be read immediately upon arrival.
-For security reasons, the gate at the bottom of the stairs should be locked to prevent entry from the outside.

-Propane heater with fuel
-Propane lamps
-One double bed
-Propane stove with small oven
-Four folding chairs and table
-Hoist (pulley and rope)
-Broom, dust pan, and mop
-Tower Instruction Manual
-Historic firefinder
-Tower history and history log books
-USFS dishes--20 piece set

-Bedding/sleeping bags/sleeping pads or cots
-Water containers
-Cooking and eating utensils
-Paper towels
-Wooden matches
-Trash bags
-Warm clothing and rain gear
-Toilet articles/tissue
-First Aid equipment
-Large battery lantern/flashlight
-Insect spray/repellent
-Ice chest
-Tower keys

Directions from Mancos, Colorado: The renovated tower is located 14.0 miles north of Mancos on Forest Road 561 which is a well-graveled road accessible by two-wheel-drive vehicles. Travelers should watch for livestock and wildlife and keep speeds under 30 miles per hour.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Late May through Mid-October (NOTE: The Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Fire Tower may be rented for one or two-night stays from late May to mid-October, weather permitting. Contact the Jersey Jim Foundation by calling (970)533-7060 between 1:00-5:00pm, Mountain Time, Monday - Friday.) .

Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Maintained by the Jersey Jim Foundation. Guests must have reservations. For information call (970)882-7296, 1:00-5:00 pm Mountain Time, Monday-Friday. Updated: 2003-06-10 15:30:00.0

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Other Jersey Jim Fire Lookout Tower

Related Activities
Transfer Campground - This four-acre campground has 12 sites in a small aspen grove northeast of Mancos.

Transfer Group Picnic Ground - The group picnic area has five double tables, a large group area, a serving table, and cooking grills, as well as a large fire pit and amphitheater, ideal for evening storytelling. Smaller, free family picnic sites are also available.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Dolores Public Lands Office, 29211 Hwy 184 , Dolores, CO, 81323, Phone: 970-882-7296, Fax: 970-882-6841, TTY: 970-882-6842


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