to explore America's parks.
Parents and kids alike will enjoy the sounds of a crackling campfire at dusk and of birds calling as the sun rises. Our guide has advice for building a safe blaze, telling a spooky fireside take, making tasty s'mores, and much more. Start packing because nature is calling.
How To Build a Campfire
If your campsite has a designated area for fires, use it rather than creating a new one. If you must clear a new fire area, find a foundation of rock, dirt, or sand that extends below the surface several inches. Clean debris from the area for 3 feet beyond the fire's edge. Don't build the fire near tree trunks, exposed tree roots, or under branches lower than 30 feet.
care and an eye toward safety
and conservation, according to
the Camp Fire Boys and Girls
Collect or purchase wood, break it into usable 8-inch lengths, and stack it neatly in piles. Good campers don't chop off tree limbs; green wood won't burn well anyway. Dry, dead wood that snaps when broken burns best. Keep the woodpile far enough away from the fire so sparks and flames cannot reach it. You don't want to inadvertently start another blaze. A good, basic fire is the tepee shape. Place two handfuls of tinder in the center of the fire circle. Soft woods, such as pine and spruce, make good tinder because they burn fast. Next, stand pieces of kindling on end around the tinder. Pieces should overlap somewhat, but leave a space so your match can reach the tinder. Hardwoods, such as oak and maple, make good kindling because they burn long and hot. A steady small fire works much better than a large one, so build a fire no larger than necessary. Keep a bucket of water nearby at all times, and never leave a fire unattended. When the fire is out, cover the area with soil and leave no trace.