Table Rock Lookout
Table Rock is indeed a long flat summit with steep sides which resemble a giant table. Easily visible from far distances is the box shape of the fire lookout which is manned nearly every summer. The destination is not only attractive to tourists out for a drive or lookout enthusiasts, but the mountain has over 1000 feet of prominence, which is a bit rare in the Blue Mountains. The views from the summit are quite dramatic, especially to the west where the Columbia Basin farms go as far as the human eye can see. Looking south you can see the snow-capped Wallowa Mountain Range in Oregon around 60 miles away. On clear days, to the left of the Wallowa Range you can see the Seven Devil Range in Idaho, around 80 miles away.
Elevation: 6,240+ feet
Distance: Drive-up or 0.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Access: Good to 4.5 miles, then rougher road high-clearance maybe
Washington Lookout Sites
A Lookout Story
October 1930: "I will give you an example of the speedy kind. On August 22 the lookout at Table Rock reported a fire near Lewis Peak. All regular force being busy, it was necessary to call on our cooperator in Walla Walla, Chas. Hendricks. I called him and told him where the fire was and how many men to take. He had a ration list and fire organization chart. He had his assistant, Frank Hannan, help him taking the men and tools and the truck and provisions. The janitor for the Post Office building had to walk four blocks to open the fire tool cache. From the time Hendricks received the word from me to the time he had everything loaded in the truck ready to start was 39 minutes. They had ordered the truck, hired the men, got tools from the tool cache, and had provisions by one of the merchants who had one of the ration lists, in the time mentioned above. Charley says he believes he can beat this a little next time as he has had some practice now. Albert Baker" (Six Twenty-Six)
The first Table Rock Lookout was completed in August of 1929. It was a D-6 cupola cabin that remained at the summit for 30 years. In 1949, a L-4 cab lookout tower with a 10 foot tall concrete base was built. The concrete base still remains today, but the upper lookout cabin underwent modifications in 1989 that are much more modern with metal shutters and siding made to look like wood but is some kind of weather proof artificial material. A 1950 article in the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin said the new lookout wasn't quite finished but was already being used. It also said the lookout was for the protection of the watershed. The city water department and city engineer were involved with the structure. (The Walla Walla drinking water watershed is directly below the lookout).
From Dayton, drive south on 4th street which leads across town and into the hills. Because this road it the way to the ski area SKI BLUEWOOD, a very nicely paved road takes you to the National Forest and up to the resort turn-off. Then it continues as nice gravel (FR 64) up to a major T junction. Turn right, follow for a short distance to a Y, then go left. This final 4.5 miles to Table Rock can get rough for passenger cars...although many have done it. Others walk the road since the dirt can get slick when wet. Conditions of the road vary depending on weather and last road grading. Snow can linger late into June from snowdrifts. A final half mile is on FR-475. This road may be gated but if not, you can drive all the way to the lookout.
Looking west over the Columbia Plateau
Modern Forest Service restrooms
1958 Table Rock cupola - no longer used
1958 Table Rock Lookout - First year
1940 Table Rock cupola
1930 Table Rock cupola
Table Rock summit bench
Crossing the Table Rock summit plateau to the lookout
Table Rock shed below the ridge to protect from weather
Walking the last half mile due to snow on the road