Location: 48.021929, -118.509453 Summit Elevation: 4,760′ Lookout Type: 53′ steel tower with live-in cab Site Established: 1922 Current Structure Built: 1985 Date Visited: 6/28/19
The summit of Whitestone was first used as a lookout in 1922. The existing 53′ steel tower was built in 1985 and is staffed every fire season. The summit of Whitestone and surrounding area was burned during the 2019 Williams Flats fire but the lookout survived.
Photos from 2019, three months prior to Williams Flats fire damage.
Whitestone was first established as a fire lookout camp in 1922, then an L-4 ground house was built in 1935 by the CCC for an approximate cost of about $900. By 1960, the cabin was in very poor shape due to age, weathering, and shifting of the rocks upon which the foundation was built. A new lookout was proposed and a 20′ tower with R-6 cab replaced the L-4 in 1964. In 1985, a third structure was built on the summit, the existing 53′ steel tower with live-in cab. It remains staffed every summer.
2019 Williams Flats fire.
The 2019 Williams Flats fire, started on August 2nd, burned nearly 45,000 acres and scorched the summit of Whitestone and surrounding area. The Whitestone outhouse was lost but the tower was spared. Heavy rain and storms tracked right over the burn area in mid-August, causing severe flash flooding and road damage.
I visited Whitestone with my dad in June 2019, just two months prior to the Williams Flats fire and was able to take photos of the summit and surrounding forest prior to fire damage.
Whitestone Ridge lookout after the 2019 Williams Flats fire. Photo: Northeast Washington Interagency Incident Management TeamWhitestone Ridge lookout after the 2019 Williams Flats fire. Photo: Northeast Washington Interagency Incident Management TeamThe 2019 Williams Flats fire from Whitestone Ridge. Photo: Northeast Washington Interagency Incident Management Team
Whitestone before 2019 Williams Flats fire.
There are a few ways to approach Whitestone but the best routes during my visit in 2019 were from either the Sand Creek Road or the Ninemile-Hellgate Road, using a BIA road that climbs up Whitestone’s north ridge. However, conditions may have changed due to the 2019 fires. It’s best to bring a high-clearance 4WD and a good map.
Note: To visit Colville Confederated Tribal land, non-tribal members must now purchase a recreation permit for $80/annually. Passes may be purchased online.