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

Long Valley Campground

Secluded Camp Sites

Long Valley Campground BLM

Southern Sierra Nevada
secluded camp, fishing & hiking trails
(free campground, open all year long)

South Fork of Kern River & DomeLand Wilderness

20+ miles from the nearest paved road; a remote camp on Long Valley Loop Road, off Canebrake Road. Both are dirt roads: high clearance vehicle recommended!

High Desert meets the Sierra Mountains

Back in the dry pinyon hills east of Kernville, beyond Sherman’s Pass; high above the Mojave desert and north of Canebrake & Highway 178. Long dirt roads, remote campground w/ fishing & hiking trails. Wilderness access.

hiking fishing trails horse trails back roads back roads sierra mountains

Chimney Peak Back Country Byway
Canebrake, California

These dirt back roads listed above skirt the edge of Dome Land Wilderness & Sequoia National Forest winding through BLM Land bordering the Mojave. The byway networks recreation areas between Kennedy Meadows and Canebrake, east of Lake Isabella. Eastern Kern County, California.

backpacking
camping
fishing
hiking
horseback trails
mountain biking
rock climbing
stargazing
wildflowers

Trailheads Domeland

People come way out here for the seclusion – the peace & the quiet. Mid-week you can have the whole place to yourself. Abundant hiking trails & fishing access. Into the Dome Land Wilderness you will find incredible scenery and diverse terrain – giant granite domes, waterfall canyons, and the South Fork of the Kern River (3 mi hike to river). PCTThe infamous Pacific Crest Trail passes close to Long Valley Campground, but Chimney Creek Campground is much closer to the PCT.

BLM Camping

Long Valley Campground

• Elevation: 5200′
• Number of Sites: 13
• Vehicle Accessibility: High Clearance Vehicle
• Facilities: picnic tables, fire rings, vault toilet
• Campsites Reservation: No
• Camp Fee: None
• Length of Stay: 14 Days
• Season: Open all year
• Operated by: BLM
• Trailheads: S. Fork Kern River & Domeland Wilderness

Bureau of Land Management
BLM Bakersfield Field Office
661-391-6000
BLM page w/ map & info

Recent Domeland Wild Fires:
Manter Fire (2000)
McNally Fire (2002)

Long Valley Loop

Long Valley Loop Road (2001)

2016 NOTE: The part of the LOOP of Long Valley Loop Road that connects this campground to Kennedy Meadows (to the north) is CLOSED due to a huge washout. The Long Valley campground is accessible from the south side, from Hwy 178 @ Canebrake – and requires many miles of dirt road driving. High clearance vehicles are recommended; 4×4 needed in wet weather or snow.

towns nearby:

CANEBRAKE
KENNEDY MEADOWS
KERNVILLE
LAKE ISABELLA
MOJAVE

High Desert Sagebrush

High Desert Sagebrush & Dirt Roads

Wildfire Burn

Manter Wildfire Burn Area (2001)

National Forest Cabins

California Fire Lookouts for Rent
US Forest Service Cabins

red cabin

NFSlogo
Rent a secluded cabin with an amazing view, a historic tower for wildfire spotting, or a USDA guard station – hidden deep inside California National Forests. Several of these NFS lookouts have been closed recently, so the ones listed below have links to status and reservation information. Dirt road access is common to reach these locations. Winter months are usually snowy, inaccessible and sometimes dangerous for these high country locations. A FEW are open all year long – in the southern part of the golden state.

El Dorado National Forest USFS

Harvey West Cabin
4,720′ elev. on Silverfork American River, Gold Rush

Loon Lake Chalet
6375′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

Robbs Peak Lookout
Robb’s Hut / Robbs Cabin

6686′ elev near Placerville, Gold Country California

Sly Guard Cabin
Sly Park @ Jenkinson Lake, near Placerville, Gold Country California

Van Vleck Bunkhouse
6549′ elev. near Georgetown, Gold Country California

Lassen National Forest USFS

McCarthy Point Lookout
overlooking Mill Creek Canyon and Ishi Wilderness

ranger & info 530-258-2141

Plumas National Forest USFS

Crocker Guard Station
5700′ elev. near Lake Davis Loop, way out behind Portola, California

Big Bear Lake 2002

San Bernardino National Forest USFS

Morton Peak Fire Lookout
SoCal Mountains, Big Bear Lake Area,
near Forest Falls, CA

Coon Creek Cabin
Group Camp Site
Heart Bar Rd #1N02 near Angeles Oaks, CA

Sequoia National Forest USFS

Big Meadows Cabin
Big Meadows Guard Station

off Big Meadows Rd #14S11
7600′ elevation; in between Sequoia NP & Kings Cyn NP

Camp 4 and a half
1100′ elevation; Lower Kings River Cyn
near Hume Lake & Kings Canyon NP

Mountain Home Guard Station Cabin
6000′ elev. near Springville, CA

Oak Flat Lookout
Oak Flat Cabin Rental
4900′ elevation; Kern River canyon near Lake Isabella, CA

Poso Guard Station Cabin Rental
open all year round
4500′ elev. near Kernville, CA

Quaking Aspen Cabin Rental
Giant Sequoia National Monument, Western Divide near Ponderosa, CA

Wishon Campground & Cabin Rental
Giant Sequoia National Monument; open all year round
4000′ elev. near Camp Nelson, CA

Shasta/Trinity National Forests USFS

Forest Glen Guard Station
near Trinity River & Forest Glen, CA

Girard Ridge Lookout
Historic Fire Lookout Tower
4809′ elev. near Dunsmuir, CA

Hirz Mountain Lookout Tower
Hirz Mtn. Fire Watch Tower Rental
overlooking Shasta Lake, CA

Harris Springs Guard Station
near McCloud, CA

Little Mount Hoffman Lookout
Mt. Hoffman Rental
7000′ elev. near McCloud, CA

Post Creek Guard Station
near Hayfork & Platina, CA


Sierra National Forest USFS

Camp Four and a half Cabin
Lower Kings River, open all year round
1100′ elev. near Pine Flat Reservoir


Six Rivers National Forest USFS

Bear Basin Butte
Cabin & Fire Lookout

elevation 5300′ in Six Rivers NF / Smith River NRA
10600 Highway 199
Gasquet, CA 95543

Tahoe National Forest USFS

Calpine Lookout Cabin Rental
near Sierraville, CA

Sardine Peak Fire Lookout
overlooking the Sierra Buttes and the serene Lakes Basin, Yuba Rivers, Northern Gold Country California

lakes basin views

California Fire Departments

California Fire Map

CAL Fire – California Dept of Fire
NFS, Calif County & Volunteer Fire Depts

calfiremap

Cal Fire Map
California Department of Fire

inciwebfires

Inciweb.org
USDA National Forest Wildfires

drohghtgov

Drought.gov
see what is ahead for California fire conditions

fireforce

County Fire Departments
Volunteer Fire Departments