As of the publication date of this article, most counties in Colorado are on  Stage 1 Fire Restrictions. The list is long. 

But what exactly does that mean? Can you still go camping? 

Of course! 

It just takes a little extra precaution on your part to make sure you’re in compliance. Here are the details for responsible camping while fire restrictions are in place.

What you can’t do during Stage 1 Fire Restrictions:


1. You cannot build (or attend) a campfire, except for in permanent fire pits within development Forest Service camps.

Details: You cannot build, maintain, attend, or use a fire, campfire, or stove fire. This includes charcoal barbecues and grills. Note: don’t miss the word “attend”. Whether you started the campfire or not is irrelevant. You CAN be held accountable if you are in observance of a campfire and don’t take actions to extinguish it.

Exception: Fires are allowed in constructed; permanent fire pits or fire grates within developed Forest Service camp and picnic grounds or recreation sites and petroleum-fueled stoves, lanterns or eating devices that meet the factor underwriter’s specifications for safety. Fires that are maintained or attended within a device that has a spark arrestor or where the fire is fully enclosed within a screen at all times is allowed. If you’re uncertain whether or not you are using an approved Forest Service camp, error on the side of caution and go without a campfire.

2. You cannot smoke in wilderness areas.

Details: Smoking is prohibited except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.

3. You cannot operate or use any internal combustion engine without spark arresting device properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.



Other things to know:

  • Possessing, discharging or using any kind of fireworks or pyrotechnic device is always prohibited in National Forests.
  • Stage 2 and Stage 3 fire restrictions are much more prohibitive, and can even result in restrictions on indoor fire activities. In the event of an escalation of restrictions beyond Stage 1, refer to your specific county for details.
  • Individual counties maintain the authority to alter or add additional restrictions as is necessary. Always refer to the local county authorities or ranger station for details. 
  • Help us keep our forests safe by practicing good stewardship, and reporting anyone that is violating fire restrictions. Always speak up. Otherwise get outside and enjoy some camping!
About the Author

Jimmy Funkhouser
Jimmy is the founder and owner of Feral Mountain Co. When he is not exploring the hinterland of Colorado he can usually be found at one of his favorite Berkeley neighborhood watering holes with Sophie the shopdog.

Follow Jimmy on Instagram at@theadventuresoffunk.

About the Photographer

Johnathan Valdez
Johnathan is a photographer from Breckenridge, Colorado. Born and raised in Colorado on his family farm, his love for nature and the outdoors runs deep. Through the use of his camera, he hopes to show others the beautiful places he visits as well as inspire them to find their inner explorer.

Follow Johnathan on Instagram at @capulinflicker or visit his website at