Campfire Basics: Tips For a Better Campfire

When people think about camping or spending time outdoors they often think about campfires. A campfire is a staple for most camping trips, but it's important that you know these campfire basics to be safe, prevent forest fires and to minimize your impact. Follow these campfire tips to safely enjoy a fire at your next campsite.

Campfire Tips


1. Verify that fires are permitted where you are camping. Fire restrictions are common during dry summer months. The fire restrictions can change throughout the year. Check with the local national park, state park, county or local authorities for any current restrictions.

2. Use existing fire rings. If you're in an established campsite, use the fire ring. Many dispersed campsites have rings from previous campers. Instead of building a new fire pit use whatever you can that is already there.

3. Clear away all flammable material from around the fire. Pull away all leaves, pine needles and excess wood. Stack wood a safe distance away and be sure to keep your tent far enough away so embers won't burn the fabric.

4. Only use locally sourced wood. Do not transport wood more than 50 miles. You may inadvertently be introducing insects or diseases that can damage the forest.

5. Gather firewood responsibly. Only gather downed firewood. Do not cut branches off of trees around the campsite and gather downed wood from a larger area to minimize your impact.

6. Only burn small branches. Only gather wood about the size of an adult's wrist. Larger logs will rarely burn completely.

7. Do not burn plastic, cans, bottles or foil. Keep the fire at only the size you need and make sure you burn everything down completely. In the end you should be able to reduce everything to just coals.

8. Never leave a fire unattended. An adult should always have an eye on the fire and be prepared for an emergency.

9. Put the fire out completely. Never go to bed and think the fire will just burn out. Place water on the fire, stir the coals then douse with more water.

10. Return the area to as natural setting as possible. If you built a fire pit spread out the rocks. Pack out the ashes or spread them out over a large area to minimize its impact.

Those are the basics of having a responsible campfire. Remember, be safe and respectful for nature whenever you choose to have a campfire. This will ensure you enjoy your time outdoors just as much as those who enjoy the same campsite in the future.


Andy Hawbaker
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Andy Hawbaker
Andy is a hiker, backpacker, snowboarder and outdoor fanatic. When he isn't exploring the Rocky Mountains, burning marshmallows or scratching his dog behind the ear, he shares his experiences here on the Sierra Trading Post Blog.
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