Heavens Gate Lookout
One of the more spectacular lookout sites is Heavens Gate on the Idaho-Oregon border. It's located at an elevation of 8400 feet and has striking views of Hells Canyon, the Seven Devils Mountains, and other peaks in the area. Current Heavens Gate lookout Michael Oliver enjoys his job with a view. He's happy to still be part of a firefighting team and also feels lookouts still have a valuable role to play today.
"I think that there is nothing that matches a human pair of eyes and the intuition about a smoke and whether it's a smoke or is it a cloud. I just don't think machines can do that — and I think we're seeing actually resurgence in lookouts. I think that lookouts have a place and they are definitely coming back. I spent about fifteen seasons in fire as a younger man. And a lookout is one of the things you can still do when you are not able to get out and dig fire line. It's a real good match between solitude and interaction with people, people from all over the world."
At the same time there are many Idahoans who make the trip to this lookout.
"It was a little overwhelming because I didn't expect to be able to see so much because you can see for miles and miles and miles. I loved it. It was breathtaking."
"It's really remote and we like it because we can look into four states. It's not something you get to come to year round. You've got a limited window of time to see it and so we just like coming up here."
"One of the main draws of this is being at 8,429 feet where the light is just really pure. The light is always changing. I brought a lot of books, novels, photography, things to do with my time but I frankly spend most of my time walking from one panel of windows to the other observing the light change throughout the day. Just fabulous sunsets, fabulous … just intense oranges, yellows … sometimes the clouds are illuminated. It's always different and different variations, very special."