Campfires are a big part of the outdoor experience at Mammoth Lakes, and they can be an effective way to keep warm on cold nights. However, knowing the rules is important before you start a fire.


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Campfires may be allowed unless restrictions are imposed due to extreme fire danger.

Campfires are generally not permitted in developed sites or within the park. Campers should be aware that just because you can’t see other people’s campfires doesn’t mean they don’t exist.


This means campers can have a campfire during the day, but campfires may be prohibited if the conditions are too dry and windy. Campfire restrictions are usually posted at all campgrounds, or you can check with park staff before building a campfire.


You may inquire about the fire hazard risk by either contacting the following:

  • United States Forest Service (USFS) Fire Prevention desk: (760) 924-5536 
  • USFS Dispatch: (760) 873-2405

All fires must be confined to designated campfire rings and fireplaces.

These may be found in the picnic area, but not all campsites have them. If you plan to build a fire, ensure it is in one of these locations.


Campfires can also be built in an open area or a pit. The traditional method is to build the campfire on bare ground, but this method can be dangerous.


Other things to consider are:

  • approved site must be ringed with non-combustible material
  • it should have a maximum diagonal dimension of 3 feet for any one dimension
  • it’s not to be within 20 feet of combustible materials


The rocks in the fire pits are there for safety reasons. They should not be moved or removed from the pit during use because they help prevent sparks from flying into dry grass nearby.


If you build a campfire, simply covering it with dirt will not do the job. Instead, ensure that no hot spots remain in the coals, which could cause your fire to reignite.

Do not build a fire on top of rocks or destroy vegetation for firewood.

Do not cut down live trees or shrubs or burn green wood. Burning an object releases the chemical compounds that make the object fire-retardant and gives off toxic smoke.


Campfires should always be built on flat ground with plenty of space around them. They should also be built far from plants and the ground to avoid damaging trees and rocks.


Be careful not to burn the ground, which prevents erosion in some areas and keeps certain plants alive (like poison oak). If you use a campfire ring for your fire, let the ashes cool completely before disposing of them in fire rings, restrooms, or dumpsters.

Check with park personnel for the current availability of firewood or charcoal briquettes for purchase.

If you want to build a campfire, head to the visitor center and ask for permission. Firewood or charcoal briquettes can be purchased there.


But if you’d prefer to bring your wood or charcoal, that’s okay too. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher on hand and remind everyone around the fire of its presence; never leave it unattended!


If you have a permit for a campfire in an undesignated area, make sure everyone knows about it. So they don’t accidentally use gasoline or kerosene—it’s illegal and could cause serious harm!

Ensure all burning materials are completely extinguished before leaving the area or retiring for the night.

When you leave a fire unattended, the fire can grow so large that flames and smoke can be seen from miles away. In some cases, this can lead to a wildfire that will burn thousands of acres of land and cost millions in damages.


Here’s why you should not leave burning material unattended are:

  • Fires may cause property damage or forest fires if left unattended.
  • You could get fined by law enforcement if your campfire gets out of control.
  • It creates problems for people living near the campsite or in the park.

Final word

While there are no current restrictions against campfires, we would recommend consulting with the Mammoth Lakes Fire Department. Not only do they have detailed information about where you can and can’t have a campfire, but they also have other useful information on fire safety.

Adventures in Camping has everything you need for a perfect family camping trip across Mammoth Lakes and High Sierra. For more information, call us at (760) 935-4890 or email us at