Miami Mountain Fire Lookout, Page 1

Located in the United States Forest Service's

Sierra National Forest, Bass Lake Ranger District

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U.S.F.S Volunteer Emblem

Miami's GPS location is 37.41943°N / 119.74526°W, Placed on the **"National Historic Lookout Register on 4/21/1999 as Lookout No. 305". ** The historic value of this site may have been removed due to an interior remodel that does not reflect the original historic configuration.

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CentralVolunteer Staffing Calendar, password required.

The Live Web-Cams Are No Longer In Service!

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To sign up as a volunteer lookout for Miami Mountain click here and follow the 2016 instructions.

      "My sincere thanks to all the United States Forest Service Personnel who aided in the rescue of our son Richard from Gardner Basin in the Sequoia National Forest on August 25, 1998."

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      Miami Lookout is located in the foothills of the West Central Sierra Nevada Mountains on Miami Mountain. At an elevation of 4327 feet, Miami Mountain overlooks Eastern Madera County, Mariposa County, the South Western Peaks of Yosemite National Park and the North Western Peaks of the Sierra National Forest. Miami Lookout responsible for watching an area of approximately 150 Square Miles. Miami Lookout is now staffed by local volunteers since cutbacks forced the discontinuance of paid staffing in 1995.

      Miami Lookout was established and put into service by the Forest Service in 1934. The only permanent lookout on the Sierra National Forest identified in 1933 visibility study that had not previously been used as a lookout. The tower's map location is Township 6 South, Range 20 East, Section 11 on the Sierra National Forest Map.

      Miami Mountain Lookout was originally constructed in 1934. The tower is a 20 foot steel non-battered tower with "I" beam corner posts and a C-3 cab with a 14 x 14 foot hip roofed wood lookout house with door in of wall, with 2-pane windows, and shutter outriggers on top.

      The volunteers work in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, "Sierra National Forest" on a frequency of 172.225 Mhz and the California Department of Forestry, "Madera, Mariposa, Merced Ranger Unit" on a frequency of 151.460 Mhz in the detection and reporting of potentially damaging wildfires. Miami Mountain is located on the Mariposa, Madera County line one mile west of California State Highway 49. There is room to park a vehicle safely during fire season just in from the Highway 49 access road. It is then a two and a half mile hike up to the tower, bearing left up hill at the "Y" in the road. Do not drive up and park by the locked gate, because your vehicle may be towed for blocking the access road.

      Miami is staffed during the declared fire season which begins about May 15th of each year. The season will continue untill October or November when one inch of precipitation has occurred and the declared fire season ends.

      Miami Lookout directly overlooks the towns of Nipinnawasee, Ahwahnee, Bailey Flats, Raymond, Coarsegold and Oakhurst in Madera County, and Ponderosa Basin, Usona, Bootjack, Lush Meadows, Mariposa, and Oakgrove in Mariposa County.

      This site is dedicated to my very best friend Josiah Knowles, Jr. (Joe Knowles) for his many years of work and support for the volunteer fire lookout program in the Sierra National Forest. Joe passed away on the evening of October 26, 2006 while on duty at Miami Lookout and closing the tower for the evening. On June 27, 2009, the Sierra National Forest dedicated the tower in his memory and name.

Miami's first-timer lookout

      Miami fire lookout sits atop the 4,327-foot Miami Mountain about two miles off Highway 49 just north of Nipinnawasee. The 360-degree view from Miami takes in the ever-increasing urban interface with the national forest. North Fork resident Julie Agrens is one of 25-plus volunteer fire lookouts who will be staffing Miami during this summers fire season. "This is my first year on the job and I'm so excited to put to use my training on using the fire finder and getting the fire call to the Sierra Dispatcher," says Ms. Ahrens.

      All volunteers working as fire lookouts receive no financial compensation for their work efforts. They know the value of their work and enjoy the solitude found at the top of a mountain. The Sierra National Forest has eight fire lookouts, with five staffed this summer.   (Courtesy of Sierra Star, Oakhurst)

FFLA (Forest Fire Lookout Association) Reports for the year:


      At Miami Lookout, the weather station was torn apart and refurbished. The tower was dedicated as the "Joe Knowles Memorial Tower" and a monument was placed at the base of Miami in his honor. FFLA member Jeff May and his Miami cronies are going high-tech experimenting with Dragon Plot to help with pinpointing fires. They report good success. Jeff used Dragon Plot to recalibrate the fire finders at Signal Peak, Shuteye and Fence Meadow. Sierra Patrol Paul Waddell raised $500 at a Smokey Bear Bike Run, which he will donate to Miami Lookout. The Sierra NF developed a Lookout Recreational Activity Guide for public information purposes.


      We are continuing the interior and external renovation of Miami Mountain Lookout. This will include interior painting, replacement of floor material, replacement of cabinets, exterior siding and repair of windows and hinges. This is based by the approval of the USFS Archeologist. Miami Mountain will open 30 days before the Fire Season to continue the noted renovations. The Miami Mountain Lookout Fire Finder base with rail has been renovated with newly painted side mounting brackets and stainless steel rods to improve movement of the Fire Finder across the rods.

      We have purchased nylon leveling and slide bolts for all fire finders for the lookouts to improve movement of the fire finders across the slide rods. These will be installed prior to the fire season.


      During the Fire Season we acquired 4 new Forest Fire Lookouts. There was a joint training session with the Buck Rock Foundation and Yosemite-High Sierra Chapter with the National Weather Services Basic and Advanced Storm Spotter Training. Miami Forest Fire Lookouts also participated in the Smokey the Bear Run. A new Website and Community Education program is being developed and implemented to attract more volunteers, sponsorships and donations to the chapter.

      Miami Forest Fire Lookout Renovations: The interior of the cab and windows were painted. We are awaiting approval from the SNF Fire Archeologist to replaced existing tile flooring with high traffic simulated wood grain flooring, replacement of all cabinets with rustic style cabinets. Tower stairs wood inserts will also be replaced with non-skid strips. A weather station was also installed during FY2012.

      Since 2012, we have not been updated on any of the work that was performed on the tower, or any other information on its operations. The live cams were never replaced or repaired, so there is no longer and live view from the tower for the public or fire departments. Visit the Central Sierra Fire Lookout Group for further volunteer information.

Picture of Panarama View
Click on thumbnail above to view panarama.

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The lookout overlooks both State and Federal lands included below with reduced resolution photos and description:
Click on a picture to view the full high resolution image!

Photo, Picture looking North from the Tower Photo, Picture looking Northeast North from the Tower

Looking North to the Northern Mariposa County Line and North Northeast to Yosemite National Park area, 2008.

Photo, Picture looking Eastnorth East from the Tower Photo, Picture looking East from the Tower

Looking East Northeast into Southwestern Yosemite National Park and East to the Sierra National Forest, 2008.

Photo, Picture looking Eastsouth East from the Tower Photo, Picture looking Southeast South from the Tower

Looking East Southeast to the Shuteye Mountain area and South Southeast to Oakhurst and the San Joaquin River Valley area beyond, 2008.

Photo, Picture looking South from the Tower Photo, Picture looking Southwest South from the Tower

Looking South towards Fresno on the San Joaquin Valley floor and South Southwest to the Hensley Lake area of Madera County, 2008.

Photo, Picture looking Southwest from the Tower Photo, Picture looking West from the Tower

Looking West southwest to Eastman Lake and the San Joaquin Valley floor in Madera County and West to Merced County and the San Joaquin Valley Floor area, 2008.

Photo, Picture looking Westnorth West from the Tower Photo, Picture looking Northwest North from the Tower

Looking West Northwest to Western Mariposa County and North Northwest to the Merced River Canyon in Mariposa County, 2008.

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Miami Mountain Lookout, D. Rodgers, Guard, SNF Photos.

1945 Interior Views, 1945 and 1956 Exterior Views

Photos provided courtesy of U.S.F.S..

Photo, Archived Picture of the Tower inside Photo, Archived Picture of the Tower inside

Photo, Archived Picture of the Tower Photo, Archived Picture of the Tower

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This page last updated on February 25, 2017.

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1995 Miami Mountain Volunteer Fire Lookouts

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