Camp Fires Correctly

desert bonfires

Deserts & beaches are the only places for bonfires.

kill your television

Camp Fires
The heat source, the light source, the cook source, the sock drier, the night supplier, the outdoor LIVING ROOM. The campfire is the center stage for all entertainment, true tales and ghost stories alike.

Since the beginning of time humans have gathered around the campfire at dark. This nightly ritual is built into us on the deepest level. We miss this today. We miss the real conversations, the community, the bonding, the stories, the soul searching. We miss the connection with nature, the fresh air and the great outdoors. The night sky filled with stars and maybe a meteor shower, a hot drink and the glow of the campfire coals. Enjoying the wilderness requires certain skills. FIRE is only ONE skill – for survival, for cooking, for warmth, for safety.

Total Escape is dedicated to those who yearn to camp, often.

In Certain Circles

photo – Charlie Sweeney 2010

Some folks cannot imagine camping without a campfire, but we better get used to it here on the West Coast. Weather patterns swing from years of super-dry drought to deluge and drenching – as we’ve seen of recent in California. Dry conditions means high wildfire dangers, tight camp stove and strict campfire restrictions.

Each California region, National Forests and State Parks have their own fire restrictions, so call ahead to rangers for current fire conditions on the place you wish to visit. Certain mountain locations will ban fires in the back country, fires on the back roads and sometimes in extreme conditions, no fires allowed even inside a developed campground.

Campfire Basics

Campfire Restrictions

fire

California is well known for its unforgiving drought conditions and its seasonal wildfire danger. Always know the fire conditions in the area you plan to camp. Most Southern California regions have banned ‘open campfires’ in forested areas, due to wildfire threat and population density. Call ahead to get an update on road closures and current campfire restrictions. Find California BLM offices & NFS ranger stations

Campfire Permits

If you plan on camping outside of a developed campground, you will need to get a free “camp fire permit”, which can be obtained at the local rangers office.

Find more on FREE camp fire permits

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California Camp Fires

  • RULE # 1 – Never leave a campfire unattended
  • Build campfires in designated rings. Always try to use an existing ring when possible. If you must build a new rock fire ring, follow the guide on FireSafe
  • You will need water source & bucket, plus a decent shovel for building, maintaining and controlling a campfire. BRING enough water & tools with you to control a fire.
  • A ten foot clearance – all around, down to the bare dirt is the best practice. No brush close to the ring, no bushes, no leaves or pine needles. No dry over-hanging tree branches.
  • You might need to clean trash out of the fire pit, so bring heavy duty trash bags, or a spare old box. Shovel comes in handy here.
  • Kindling is key to getting a good fire going fast, so gather more of the small stuff. Wood gathering away from camp is usually better pickens.
  • Use environmentally friendly fire starters (with damp wood, if you must); not the BBQ lighter fluid or gasoline
  • Building fires up against a big boulder scars them w/ black soot, and although it can reflect heat back to you, it is seldom worth the unsightly damage
  • Bring chainsaws or hand saws for cutting your own campfire wood in the forest
  • Gathering wood for fuel — use only dead and down wood
  • A ranger issued “wood cutting permit” is required if you plan on cutting a full cord
  • Firewood page – buying locally, in California
  • Never burn plastics, batteries or other toxic materials in campfires
  • Tossing beer bottle caps into a campfire only litters site for future campers
  • While glass bottle smelting is a real treat among boys at night, which one is actually gonna get their hands dirty & clean up broken glass out of the campfire the following morning?
  • Do not leave any hot coals during the day (if you are away from camp). Winds could pick up.
  • Always douse campfire with water completely when breaking camp. Stir it, feel for heat, and drown it more if you hear sizzling or see bubbling.
  • Read more wild fire / campfire info on our FireSafe page

Drown Fires

Last Final Step

The Final Step of Breaking Camp

 

Campfire Pits & Fire Containers

Campfire Pits & Fire Containers

Stormproof LIghters

Stormproof Lighters

Lakes Basin Recreation Area

Lakes Basin Recreation Area, California

Golden gems of California, a collection of alpine lakes on the north end of Historic Gold Country, North Yuba River, Northern Sierra Nevada

lake dunk
EAST of Downieville, CA

California’s Gold Lake and surrounding lakes; the granite spires of the Sierra Buttes and the creeks, waterfalls, headwaters of the Yuba River — total wild beauty. Steep, granite, river canyon from Downieville drive east on Highway 49 from Sierra City to Bassetts, a gasoline and market stop; they have a small hotel there too.

Historic Lodges

Take the left turn, north on to the Gold Lake Highway. The alpine and extremely scenic Lakes Basin Area consist of all small lakes in between Hwy 49 to Hwy 89, along GOLD LAKE HWY [Road S620] some maps read Road #24 or call this Gold Lake “Road” instead of highway. Snow closes in this route during winter months.

The impressive Lakes Basin Gold Lake Region is in the north part of Tahoe National Forest, on the border of Plumas National Forest. Plumas Eureka State Park is also nearby.

Hiking, Camping, Backpacking, Picnicking, Wildflowers, Stargazing, Fishing, Kayaking, XC Skiing, Snowmobiling

Lakes Basin Campgrounds

CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

  • Lakes Basin Campground
  • Salmon Creek Campground
  • Sardine Lake Campground
  • Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
  • California best lake destinations

    lakes basin views

    Lakes Basin Recreation Area

    Sierra Buttes Map


    View Larger Map

    Frasier Falls

    Frazier Falls Trail
    Length: 1 mile RT / Directions: Trail head is located on Old Gold Lake Road, about 5 miles from the Highway 89/Gold Lake Road intersection. Take the signed, narrow paved access road 4 miles to the trail head.

    nearby towns –

    A Beauty

     

    Green Bridge at San Joaquin Headwaters

    Mono Hot Springs

    High Sierra Nevada
    Mono Hot Springs

    Sierra Snowmobile Destination

    Mono Hot Pools @ San Joaquin River
    Sierra National Forest

    Best of both worlds, way back in the boonies – two primitive tubs soaking perched on a soggy hill next to a river, developed campground below, and a small resort w/ cabins, camping, restaurant and private soaking areas on the other side of the river.

    Sierra hot springs15 mi. NE of Huntington Lake off Kaiser Pass Rd. Huntington Lake & Hwy. 168

    Two squared cement tubs overlooking the river, deep in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

    The coolest thing about this primitive hot springs is that it is a great destination for a one day snowmobile adventure. Rentals are in the nearby community of Lakeshore & the plowed paths are fairly easy to follow. If you plan on visiting the springs, you must not play around in the meadow much, there is plenty great Sierra scenery to be had. The snomo trip is a good 5 hours round trip with a lunch break & dip at mineral spring tubs.

    • backpacking
    • boating
    • camping
    • cross country skiing
    • fishing
    • hiking
    • horseback
    • kayaking
    • mountain biking
    • mountaineering
    • snow mobiling
    • stargazing
    • swimming
    Sierra Snow-Mobiling

    Sierra Snow-Mobilin’

    snomo sierra hot springs

    Kasier Pass WildernessWinter: road is closed half the year due to heavy snow. Summer: snow is gone and the road is open.

    KAISER PASS ROAD
    No RVs are allowed on this long, steep, narrow paved route .

    Take Hwy.168, turn right on Kaiser Pass Rd, just past the ski resort. Pass the large meadow & follow signs to Mono Springs & Lake Edison. Make sure not to miss the left turn or you may end up at Florence Lake. Park near the green bridge over the San Joaquin River & walk over to the tubs on the hillsides.

    camp

    CAMPGROUND RESERVATIONS

    NFS Campground –
    Mono Hot Springs

    and neighboring

    Mono Hot Springs Cafe w/ Cabin Resort

    Mono Springs Sign

    closest forest, lakes, & destinations:NFS

    topo maps for this region:

    Parking Spot

    Green Creek Road

    Mono County Wildlife Area

    Mono County Wildlife Area, Green Creek Road- off Hwy 395, near Bodie

    Green Creek California

    Eastern Sierra

    S of Bridgeport, CA
    MONO – Road #142NFS

    Toiyabe National Forest
    Bridgeport Ranger District

    If you are thinking about fishing or camping the Eastern Sierra, North of Bishop & you are not up for the crowds at Mammoth or June Lakes, then try the Bridgeport area, north on Hwy 395. Rural ranch lands along main road, Bodie ghost town turn off across the highway and Virginia Creek Settlement are also nearby

    Green Creek is a 11 mile long dirt road in the lush Eastern Sierra the northern portion. The wide, graded dirt road is signed and dead ends at a Toiyabe National Forest campground called Green Creek Campground. The drive up can be washboard bumpy in some parts, but that doesn’t stop the hundreds of adventurous motorhomes that make this trek annually. This place features some of the best prime Sierra back roads camping options for RVs.

    Another dirt route, Dunderberg Meadow Road peels off to the left. Dunderberg departs  off Green Creek a couple of miles from the highway and well maintained. This route leads to meadows, aspens, picture perfect scenery and much more seclusion. Passenger car accessible, wide graded dirt roads to wilderness edges. Two-track one lane trails lead to meadow edges and more creeks. Very impressive views of the Sierra peaks over here on this side. Meadows are sensitive areas, wonderful for picnics and you should always minimize impact.

    State Park California

    Green Creek Wildlife Area
    Mono County, California

    Aspen Grove Camping for RVs

    • alpine lakes
    • backpacking
    • bird watching
    • camping
    • creeks
    • day hikes
    • fishing
    • hiking
    • horseback
    • hunting
    • mountain biking
    • wildlife
    • wilderness

    Plain old passenger cars can easily make this route deep into the Eastern Sierra aspen canyon. Graded dirt and4x4 could be needed winter months. Backpackers can enjoy easy access to the Hoover Wilderness trailheads. There is plenty semi-primitive camping spots along the way, right on the creek, for free…. so no need to sleep in your vehicle upon arrival.

    Autumn Aspen Groves: fall colors peak in October, which is usually when the first snows for the winter season start. November – usually the freeze gets them and lifeless brown leaves dangle, until the Sierra Nevada wind gust blow real good.

    camp

    Green Creek Camping

    DIRT ROAD CAMPING

    • alpine lakes
    • backpacking
    • car camping
    • day hikes
    • fishing camping
    • meadows
    • RV camping
    • tent camping

    Hoover Wilderness

    Dispersed, primitive camp spots along this main dirt road are on a first come basis. You’ll need a fire permit. Many flat camps are set along the creek in aspen groves, some pines, others have  cubby hole privacy. Large granite valley, big creek, bird, scenery and nature everywhere.  Some folks spend weeks camping out here in the warm weather months. Fishing is a big attraction.

    Old Cabin in autumn leaves, up near the top of the dirt road deep in the aspen grovesNFS

    Green Creek Campground USFS
    7500 elevation
    11 camp sites
    fee, open May – October
    trailhead parking nearby

    hiking trails lead to

    hikes

    TOPOGRAPHIC MAPS:

    Aspen Camp

    Wildrose Campground

    Wildrose Campground – Death Valley

    wildrose3

    Wildrose is an all-season campground in Wildrose Canyon, on the western edges of Death Valley National Park. This canyon gets very windy, so bring your guy lines, stakes & ropes for securing your tent. Motorhome RVs can make it in here, since the narrow road is a paved route – but be warned it can be curvy and slow going with the climb in elevation. This camp stays cooler than anything on the desert valley floor, so in summer months it can fill up quickly. Further up the hill are both ThorndikeMahogany Flat Campgrounds (both close in winter, due to snow)

    • Elevation: 4,100′
    • Number of Sites: 30
    • Vehicle Accessibility: Open to all
    • Campsites Reservation: No
    • Length of Stay: 30 Days
    • Season: year round

    wildrosecamp

    Directions:

    From Stovepipe Wells, follow Highway 190 W to Emigrant Canyon. Turn left on Wildrose Road and follow it thru the tight rocky canyon, climbing in elevation the whole way. Wildrose Campground is obvious and near the charcoal kilns turn off.

    From Panamint Valley, take Wildrose Road up.


    View Larger Map

    Death Valley MAPS –

    Death Valley Park – NatGeo
    Death Valley Topo Map – Tom Harrison

    Nearby attractions:

    Death Valley National Park
    Panamint Valley
    Ballarat Ghost Town
    Skidoo Town Site
    Charcoal Kilns
    Telescope Peak
    Tuber Canyon
    Tucki Mine