Montana Forest Service Cabins: Garnet Mountain

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Garnet Mountain Cabin

At Garnet Mountain Cabin, you’re deep in the wilderness south of Bozeman, far from the reaches of civilization. Summer hiking or winter snowmobiling is the only way to get there. Read More

  • Garnet Mountain Lookout Cabin is open year round and can be accessed by foot, ATV, ski, snowshoe, or snowmobile
  • Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance for a maximum capacity of 4 people.
  • Reservations are available by calling or going to the Bozeman Ranger Station (406)522-2520.

Overview
Wow – what a view! Garnet Mountain Fire Lookout sits on the apex of Garnet Mountain south of Bozeman, Montana. It is the only fire lookout for rent on the Gallatin National Forest and offers outstanding views of the surrounding mountain landscape.

Location
Travel 18 miles south of Bozeman on Highway 191 until you reach Storm Castle Creek Road #132 (formerly known as Squaw Creek). Turn left. After you cross the bridge turn right at the T-intersection. Do not turn off the main road as you pass the helibase. Access is by foot, atv, ski, snowshoe, or snowmobile. Two trails access the lookout:

Summer Shortcut

  • The trailhead for the 3 1/2 mile Garnet Mountain Lookout Trail #85 is approximately 1 1/2 miles up the Storm Castle Creek Road.
  • Park in the parking lot on the left side of the road.
  • Take the trail south and cross Storm Castle Creek at the bridge. Due to avalanche hazards this trail is not recommended during winter months.
  • It is a strenuous 2800ft elevation gain to the lookout via trail 85. In the summer distance is between 3-4 miles depending on route chosen. In the winter it can be up to 10 miles depending on weather conditions.

The Rat Lake access

  • Travel about 5 miles up Storm Castle Creek to the Rat Lake Road #3112.
  • Turn right when the road splits.
  • Follow the road up approximately 1 mile to the trailhead parking area below Rat Lake. Look for the 3 big boulders.
  • You will encounter Rat Lake after approximately 1/2 mile. The trail follows the east/left side of the lake.
  • The lookout is 4 miles up old logging roads and trails from the end of the road. During winter months you may need to park near Shenango Ranger Station and ski, snowshoe, or snowmobile 10 miles to the lookout via the Storm Castle Creek and Rat Lake Roads.

Reservations
Reservations can be made up to 6 months in advance. Last minute reservations (up to 3 nights in advance) are available by calling or going to the Bozeman Ranger Station (406)522-2520 or on the Recreation.gov website.

Specifics

  • Season or Open Dates – Open year-round
  • Fee - Price is $30 per night and the cabin can be reserved from 1 to 5 nights.
  • Capacity – The look out cabin can accommodate 4 people. There are bunk beds available for comfortable sleeping. 
    Maximum group size for using the facility and adjacent area is 15 people.
  • Cabin Amenities - There is a woodstove for heating and cooking and the Forest Service supplies the firewood.
    There is no electricity and no running water. Water must be packed in. There is a vault toilet. Other amenities include lantern, broom & dustpan, dishes & tableware, pots & pans, mattresses, and table & chairs.

Nearby Activities & Attractions
In the immediate area, you can enjoy

  • Hiking
  • Photography
  • Sightseeing
  • Skiing
  • Snowshoeing
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Hunting
  • Lake Access

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