Our Northwest

Campground campfires allowed? Yes and no

Wednesday, September 2, 2015by  Jon Osterberg

I know several people who think camping without a campfire is no fun and not worth doing.
     Full disclosure: I’m one of those.
     So with the long Labor Day weekend approaching, I checked to see if Northwest campers can enjoy campfires anywhere in this wildfire-plagued season.
     The answer is, it depends where you camp.
     First, understand – I fully acknowledge the urgency of our current wildfire danger. I don’t think campfires are sensible, period, east of the Cascades. Even if they were, I’d fear lighting and tending one. Much of the Northwest is virtually tinder dry.
     I also know that heavy rain the past week – more than 3 inches – has dampened the mountains and western lowlands. And I learned that you can, in fact, enjoy campfires at some campgrounds.
     I phoned the Cle Elum Ranger District office today and confirmed, as of this morning, that campfires and briquettes are banned everywhere, including developed Forest Service campgrounds like Salmon la Sac.
     But I phoned the North Bend Ranger District office and learned that in its developed, hosted campgrounds – like Denny Creek and Tinkham, which have camp hosts living on-site – campfires are allowed in established fire pits.
     Same story at hosted campgrounds in the Skykomish Ranger District.
     So if you want to camp and really want a fire, call the ranger office near your destination to get the scoop.
     And if you get an early start on Labor Day, note that it could be chilly the next two days. Snow (yes, snow) is forecast above 5,600 feet.

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