This week, we escaped the Bay Area via a four-hour drive and a 5,980-foot trek up to the Calpine Fire Lookout in the Sierra Valley, just off Highway 89 near Truckee. A onetime forest fire tower that was used every summer until 1975, the Lookout is a bargain for an evening brimming with stars and sweeping views.
The rustic Lookout offers 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains, a couple beds, a propane stove, lights, and a heater. Outdoor activities include hiking, campfires, nearby lakes to explore, or just sitting and listening to the wind comb through the trees.
One of the big bonuses of the pet-friendly cabin is the fact that you can drive right up to it, that is, if you don't want to hike the two miles dirt road from the highway. Though, during the winter access is limited to snowshoes, skis, and snowmobile.
The Calpine Fire Lookout allows for four occupants and can be rented six months in advance. For more details or to make reservations, call the National Recreation Reservation Service at 877-444-6777 or visit reserveusa.com.