Cabin Modeled After Fire Tower

Judith Mountain Cabin

I have to thank EJ again for sending me another great link to a very cool project. It’s a cabin in the mountains of Montana modeled after an old forest service fire tower. To make it look like it was built in 1939 a lot of recycled material was used, corrugated metal roofing, locally sourced rock, and timbers from an 80 year old trestle bridge that had been recently dismantled. It was designed by architect Jeff Shelden, A.I.A. and is an AIA Merit Award Winner.

The lower level is the functional level and provides sleeping space, and a place to cook and wash up. The upper level is the main living area and provides the view and connection with the surrounding mountains. A small photovoltaic array provides electricity for lights, well pump, stereo and television. The composting toilet is in a separate nearby structure. A wood fired hot tub is also just outside the cabin.

Judith Mountain Cabin - Exterior Judith Mountain Cabin - kitchen Judith Mountain Cabin - table Judith Mountain Cabin - interior Judith Mountain Cabin - in snow Judith Mountain Cabin - from below





Design and photo credit Jeff Shelden, A.I.A.

30 Comments Cabin Modeled After Fire Tower

  1. Michael Janzen

    Jeff! I love that little house. I’ve seen photos of it here and there but never knew the story. Thanks for adding comments to the flickr gallery too. If you have any more info you want to share feel free to contact me directly.


  2. Bill Coates

    If you like this concept, some of the original Forest Service blueprints are available in pdf format for more inspiration. Go here:

    There’s also a company somewhere that sells old lookout and lookout cabin plans; there were quite a few different versions. Though as the disclaimer at the above site states, they may not meet current structural codes.

  3. Robert F Goodrich

    This design might work nice at my Southern Lake Champlain as I look to replace existing wooden cottages that get wet about every 3 years… when water gets high on much of the waterfront.

  4. phil hess

    can i buy plans for the fire tower cabin? do you know of any more cabins like this i can look at?

    1. Michael Janzen

      Hi Phil,

      I don’t think the fire tower cabin plans are available for sale, but you could email the architect… who knows.

      There are many places that sell cabin plans… I’ve got a good list of links on the website under plans.

  5. Pingback: Tiny House Living , Archive » Fire Lookout Towers

    1. Bryan Zulauf

      Beautiful tower in WV, nice job, I also have the same dream, just need to find that property.

    2. Seth

      Travis, where did you get the plans to build this. I want to put up something similar up in Elk County, Pa. Did you build it yourself or did you use a contractor? You can contact me at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

      1. chris

        I would love to be able to speak with you via phone or email as I am nearing my build of similar design. Please let me know if you would be willing to chat.

      1. Don Whitted

        I see that you requested plans for the 3 story tower in west VA…. is it possible that you e mail me a copy of these…… we are working on a project in Gatlinburg Tn and would like to be able to “see” if this will support what we are doing.

        1. Elizabeth

          I never heard back.
          But I am interested in building two structures. One in Northern MD for myself and my cousins may build one in the WV Highlands. If someone has the plans and they are available for purchase or if a study plan is available… please contact me

  6. Chris

    I am also looking at this type of structure and have expereince building climbing towers and ziplines but wondering if folks have any plans that I can purchase to help with cost. Would love to discuss and share some ideas.
    Thanks for such great comments.

  7. Cecil Patterson

    Great article and photos! I bought my land a couple of years ago and this is the type house I was looking for. The land is 20 acres on top of one of the tallest peaks in western North Carolina, just inside the Tennessee/North Carolina line. The property sits at an elevation of just over 5300 feet, is bordered on three sides by Forest Service property, and has a full 360 degree view of miles and miles of lower peaks and valleys. I was also very impressed with the tower house built by Travis in WV, and would love to see the plans for either of these houses.

  8. Nate

    Very interested in this for I have built small cabins and homes before but none as unique as this the floor plan pictures are blurry I’m waiting to fallow up and get more information on this beautiful home

  9. Kurt Thompson

    Jeff Sheldon’s Judith Mountain Cabin is my favorite tiny home that I have come across and I have looked at a lot. Are there detailed plans for this structure available anywhere?Trying to compile an actual figure for what it would take to build it. I unfortunately would have to sub it all out. Any ideas from anyone would be appreciated.

  10. Keith

    My wife loves it. I love that she loves it. And I love the wraparound bow stand…. er… balcony.


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