Creative Campfire Alternatives

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Did you know? Nearly 9 out of 10 wildfires nationwide are caused by humans.

It’s hard to imagine a camping trip without the ambience, convenience, and comfort of a campfire. Yet, when fire restrictions are implemented during the hot, dry summer months, or on particularly dry, windy days, it is necessary to find alternatives to a campfire to decrease the potential for accidentally igniting a wildfire. Even when fire restrictions are in effect, there are plenty of ways to cook, stay warm, and have fun during your camping trip. Check out our recommendations below and get creative with the resources available to you.

Always research fire restrictions before heading out on your trip – remember, conditions can change daily. Only you can prevent wildfires!

Make your next camping trip shine with these fun campfire alternatives

Cook with a Camp Stove

A young woman bends over a green propane camp stove set on a picnic table and flips bacon in a fryin

Yellowstone National Park (Neal Herbert, National Park Service)

In most cases, gas or propane camp stoves may be used when Stage I and II fire restrictions are in effect. This is because these fuel sources can be quickly turned on and off. Only use your camp stove in an area that is barren or cleared of all overhead and surrounding flammable materials within 3 feet of the device. As always, plan ahead, check local restrictions before arriving at your destination, and be prepared to make adjustments to your plans.

Bonus: you can still cook all of your favorite camping recipes without having to obtain firewood!

Create Your Own Ambience

Two adults shine red-tinted head lamps on a rock formation at night

Arches National Park (Yu Chen Hou, Share the Experience)

There are now many modern, portable, alternative light sources available. Pick up some solar powered lanterns and let them charge during the day so they will be ready for your nighttime adventures. You can even look for inflatable lights to save space when packing your gear. Stuff an extra water bottle with your headlamp or battery-powered string lights for a do-it-yourself lantern. Or grab some glow sticks for the kids and have a glow-in-the-dark party (this will help you keep an eye on them, too!).

Instead of looking down at a campfire, look up! How many stars can you see at night? Is there a bright moon illuminating your campsite? Listen for the sounds you might miss when all you hear is the crackling of a campfire.

Gather ’round your lantern or picnic table to play games, tell stories, or have a sing-a-long. When it’s cold outside, wrap up in blankets, use your camp stove to warm up your beverage of choice, and snuggle up to your tentmates for an evening you’ll never forget!

Expand Your Horizons

A person in a red jacket sits on rocks beneath star trails in the sky

Mount Rainier National Park (Mike Mercer, Share the Experience)

Mike Mercer experienced another world on an overnight camping trip in Mount Rainier, which he captured in a Share The Experience photo:

"This is a self portrait of an unforgettable evening of solitude and reflection at Mount Rainier National Park. The moon was nearly full, illuminating the mountain and glacial river-scape in a beautiful and eerie way that required no headlamp to navigate."

Full moon hikes are a great way to get out and explore the night - just be sure to pack a headlamp or flashlight to navigate patches of darkness.

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