Location: 48.061516, -118.795599 Summit Elevation: 4,811′ Lookout Type: 67′ steel live-in tower Site Established: 1932 Current Structure Built: 1964 Date Visited: 5/25/19
Keller Butte has remained a staffed lookout on the Colville and a plaque at the summit commemorates Ramona Peone, who served 40+ years as a fire lookout. Keller was dangerously close to the 2021 Chuweah Creek fire, but survived unharmed.
Photos from 2019.
A camp lookout was established at Keller Butte in 1932. In 1933, the first Civilian Conservation Corp camp for the district was opened with 75 men who worked on building the Cache Creek Road, a new road from Cache Creek summit to Park City, and a road from the summit to the new lookout tour atop Keller Butte. In 1935, an 80′ 3-legged wooden tower with 7×7 cab and accompanying L-4 ground house for living quarters was constructed. The Colville Examiner in 1943 reported that many teachers were staffing lookouts on the Colville National Forest and Miss Josephine Volger was stationed on Keller. The present 67′ steel live-in tower, built in 1964, is staffed every summer.
A plaque at Keller Butte commemorates fire lookout Ramona Peone, who spent 40+ years manning both Johnny George and Keller Butte lookouts. Her obituary from 2015 in the Grand Coulee Star talks of the details of her fire lookout life.
The Chuweah Creek fire, started July 12, 2021 by lightning, burned across the north shore of Buffalo Lake and across Keller Butte Road north of the lookout. The fire was eventually contained at 36,000+ acres.
The Chuweah Creek fire in July 2021 burned across the Keller Butte Road north of the lookout and has potentially impacted access from that direction. That being said, the easiest route to Keller is from the south shore of Buffalo Lake along BIA 21 connecting over to Keller Butte Road.
When I visited in 2019, I was able to get to Keller before heavy rain the day after made access to most of the Colville near impossible. Much of the area has clay roads which turn incredibly slick and impassable when wet.
Note: To visit Colville Confederated Tribal land, non-tribal members must now purchase a recreation permit for $80/annually. Passes may be purchased online.