Leon Peak Lookout

Grand Mesa National Forest

Current Leon Peak

Old Leon Peak


Justin Lawrence (Gunnison NF archaeologist) supplied a copy of this photo with the handwritten caption: "George Bonus, Johnny Wetterick, John D. Dillon - Taken Between 1926-1929"

Elevation: 11236

Status: Standing, in ruins

Year Built: 1911 or 1912

Abandoned: 1915

Google Map

Leon Peak Lookout was one of the earliest lookouts in Colorado, along with Fairview Peak. These two lookouts share a common history in that they were built early in the century and abandoned after only brief service due to severe lightning. Designed before lookout structure standardization, the unique cabin was constructed from logs and corrugated sheet metal that were carried to the summit by backpack. According to the Delta County Independent, 18 August, 2010, "At 11,236 feet, Leon Peak is often referred to as the highest point on the Grand Mesa. It is actually the second highest point - Crater Peak in the Leroux Creek area is one foot higher... A trail to the summit begins at Weir and Johnson Reservoirs and those hearty enough to undertake the climb will find the remnants of the old fire lookout."

The following is taken from a Forest Service sign on the summit:

Leon Peak Fire Lookout. Built by Clay Withersteen in 1911 or 1912, lookout guards were stationed at the Leon Peak fire lookout only through the summer of 1915. Constant lightning strikes forced abandonment. The excellent mortise and tenon log contruction of the frame has withstood furious winds for decades, but it may not bear your weight. For the sake of this historic structure and your saftey, please don't climb on it. Thank You -USFS

On 1/30/2014, Leigh Ann Hunt, Forest Heritage Manager of Grand Mesa National Forest, wrote that the granddaughter-in-law of the Leon Lookout told her, "The first lookout was Roscoe Bloss of Collbran; he lived in the flat below the peak and on his second season there, took his wife and daughter with him. He was a close friend of Clay W.[Withersteen]." Bloss, a local seasonal Forest Service employee and an accomplished carpenter helped Withersteen with the construction.

See the entry on Leon Peak in the introduction to Administering the National Forests of Colorado: An Assessment of the Architectural and Cultural Significance of Historical Administrative Properties and the description of Leon Peak Lookout in the Grand Mesa National Forest inventory in the same document.

Getting there:To get to the summit, hike along the west side of Weir and Johnson Lake on trail 717. Continue to the junction of Sissy Lake Trail (716). Follow 716 north past Round Lake and northwest to Leon Peak Reservoir. Follow the gully that leads up from the northeast corner of the reservoir into the trees and then to the talus slope. The trail continues up the slope and then west to the summit. (Also from the Delta County Independent article, 8/18/2010.)

Visit the National Historic Lookout entry for Leon Peak Lookout.

For more information on Leon Peak, see A History of the Architecture of the USDA Forest Service, Chapter 2, Building Types (continued) Lookouts.