Next time you’re west of Denver and need something to do, Mestaa’Ėhehe (pronounced mess-taw-HAY and formerly called Squaw) Mountain Fire Lookout just might save the day. Go for a hike or snag a last-minute reservation to stay the night and enjoy sweeping views from this high-elevation spot.
It takes about the same amount of time to get there from Evergreen as it does from Idaho Springs, roughly a half-hour drive from either town. Whichever path you choose to take, it makes for a scenic drive winding through the Arapaho National Forest.
Mestaa’Ėhehe Mountain’s History
What used to be Squaw Mountain (“squaw” was determined to be a slur used for Native American women), has been renamed to something more respectful and empowering. After a unanimous vote from the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board, the mountain is now known as Mestaa’Ėhehe.
This name pays homage to a historic Native woman from Colorado, also known as the Owl Woman, who played a role in helping improve relations between the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, and European people.
Mestaa’Ėhehe Mountain Activities
Camping – If you have a 4×4 vehicle, there are several dispersed campsites along Forest Service Road 252.1C with access to the historic Arapahoe Springs and a beautiful scenic overlook of the continental divide. There are no facilities and sites are first come, first served.
Hiking – It’s an easy day hike, and you’ll only have an elevation gain of about 800 feet. If the weather’s nice, you could pack a picnic and eat it on the table behind the lookout. From the top, you’ll be treated to 14,000+ foot panoramic views of Mount Blue Sky, Longs Peak, and Pikes Peak, among other snowcapped mountains in the Mount Evans Wilderness.
Snow Sports – If the snow is excellent, you can ski right up to the mountain after parking along Mestaa’Ėhehe Pass. So grab your cross-country gear, and keep in mind that sometimes the top is a bit rocky if the snow coverage isn’t adequate.
Echo Mountain is also .3 miles from the lookout, offering intermediate trails for skiing and snowboarding. There are 3 lifts, 7 runs, and a large beginner area.
Staying at Mestaa’ėhehe
Those who want to enjoy the scenery for as long as possible can reserve the fire tower for the night. The view is knock-your-socks-off good, and this popular site is well-known for its beauty. You’ll need to make sure to plan ahead if you want to rent this place out, advance reservations can be made online.
You still might face wintry conditions depending on the season, but there are a stove, fridge, and space heaters so you won’t quite feel like you’re roughing it. With more amenities than a typical night of camping, the fire tower is the perfect weekend adventure for individuals and families alike.
Address: Forest Service 192.1, Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Season: Year-round, though snow occasionally prevents access
Elevation: 11,491 feet (3501 meters)