Lakes Basin Lodges

Photos of the Lakes Basin Recreation Area


When wildflower season begins in the Lakes Basin, the photo opportunities abound. There are abundant varieties and colors galore. A feast for the eyes in the meadows, around the lakes, and along the edges of streams. Bring your camera for many days of exploration!

The Plumas National Forest was formed in 1905 by President Theodore Roosevelt, encompassing 1.1 million acres of forest, lakes, and meadows. The Lakes Basin Recreation Area was established by the United States Forest Service in 1926. To protect the area from wildfires, manned lookouts were built on the mountain tops. One of the first was on Mt. Elwell at 7,818 feet in 1910. It lasted until 1932 when another station was constructed at Mills Peak, 7,311 feet, which had a better commanding view of the forests and valleys. The Sierra Buttes Lookout at 8,587 feet was built around 1915. It had a building with both living and observation space with a wooden walkway to the top.  In the 1960's it was replaced with a steel frame building and stairway that you see today. You can walk to the tops of each of these peaks and visit two of them, with Mills Peak still manned most of the summer. Mt. Elwell still has remnants of the former lookout's metal roof clinging to the boulders at the top, a small piece of the history of the Lakes Basin.



Forest Service Lookouts

‚ÄčPhotos courtesy of Merriam Library Special Collections Eastman Photo Collection and photo collection of Elwell Lakes Lodge

Elwell Lakes Lodge is operated under a Special Use Permit issued by the Plumas National Forest

and is an equal opportunity recreation services provider