Visitor Center


The Hi Mountain Lookout Visitor Center is located on the ground floor of the Lookout building and open to the public. This small space is just loaded with cool stuff! Our goal is to provide an interactive, interpretive center that ties together local natural history, California Condor ecology, and the past and present uses of the Hi Mountain Lookout. We encourage you to hike up and spend some time learning about this unique corner of the world and the amazing creatures that live here. Our Visitor center is open during daylight hours, July through September. Other times are by appointment. To schedule a visit with Lookout staff, please call 805.748.3199
The Lookout Visitor Center was designed by Cal Poly student Amy Scarpignato. With help from USFWS, USFS, and Cal Poly, she amassed a collection of animal specimens, news articles, prints, and historic field notes- all relevant to the history of Hi Mountain. The USFWS staff added a framed chronology of the CA Condor Recovery Program, a condor egg, feathers and transmitter, handouts, and several albums of Hi Mountain photos.
Interpretive Displays- Our Interpretive Center is bursting with information on our local plants, animals, insects, geography, and natural history. We maintain a small collection of reptile specemins, insects, bird study skins, mammal skulls, track casts, and other assorted natural treasures.
Condor Information- The Visitor Center is the Lookout Project’s most important public outreach tool.We have established a large archive of California condor reference material, print media, photographs, field notes, feathers, and handouts.
Reference Library- We have assembled a huge reference library at the Lookout in addition to our collection of field notes, photos, and maps. A bibliography of our library titles is here (PDF). We also maintain an online library with many journal articles on condor biology . We archive Cal Poly Senior Projects and news articles about the Lookout here on our site, just use the search bar at the top right.
Lookout History- The current Hi Mountain Lookout was built in 1961 by the Forest Service to replace an earlier structure that had been built in 1926. In 2010, the Lookout will be 50 years old and eligible for National Register of Historic Places nomination. The Hi Mtn. Lookout was accepted to the NLR on July 22, 2003 (US Lookout #522) as “meeting those standards of historic and cultural significance established by the American Resources Group, Washington D.C., in cooperation with the Forest Fire Lookout Association, the National Forestry Association, the National Woodland Owners Association, and State and Federal forestry agencies”. Read our NLR application here. Our NLR Certificate is here. Read more about our induction into the NHLR here.
Fun Stuff For Kids- Kids love condors! That’s why we have a kid friendly Visitor Center with plenty of activities and books for our junior naturalists.ty for kids to do in our Visitor Center.
Species Lists- Lookout staff record animal sightings on a board in the Visitor Center. Every so often we compile the sightings into cumulative species checklists.