Are Campfires Allowed in Yellowstone?

Sitting around a campfire at night is one of the most wonderful experiences to have while camping. So, of course it is obvious to ask before a trip – are campfires allowed in Yellowstone?

In short, yes campfires are allowed in Yellowstone National Park. However, campfires in Yellowstone are restricted to specific areas of the park.

In this post, learn specifically where campfires are allowed in Yellowstone and how to have a campfire safely.  

are campfires allowed in yellowstone

Where can you Have Campfires in Yellowstone?

Campfires in Yellowstone National Park are allowed by following these two general guidelines.

Firstly, campfires in Yellowstone are only permitted within the fire rings of designated campgrounds throughout the park. By fire rings, I mean the structured fire pits or rocks built for fires at campsites. The designated campgrounds where campfires in Yellowstone are allowed include the 5 main campgrounds managed by Yellowstone National Park Lodges:

  • Bridge Bay Campground
  • Madison Campground
  • Canyon Campground
  • Fishing Bridge RV Park
  • Grant Village

Beyond that, there are also 7 other campgrounds managed by the National Park Service where campfires are also allowed:

  • Indian Creek
  • Lewis Lake
  • Mammoth
  • Tower Falls
  • Norris,
  • Pebble Creek
  • Slough Creek

Secondly, campfires in Yellowstone are permitted at backcountry campsites located throughout the park. For a full list of Backcountry campsites in Yellowstone, check this link.

It’s very important that if you are not camping at either a designated campgrounds or backcountry campsite, fires are not permitted.

Safety Measures for Safe Campfires in Yellowstone

When having campfires in Yellowstone, it’s important to practice a few simple safety measures.

  1. Keep fires within fire rings
  2. Campfires must be attended at ALL times
  3. Make sure fire is COLD before leaving the campsite. If still warm, wait longer or dump more water on it
  4. Maintain a clear 10 foot perimeter around the campfire to avoid possibility of anything else catching fire
  5. Monitor the fire danger in Yellowstone.

There are 5 levels of fire danger in Yellowstone (global for all national parks). These include: Low, Moderate, High, Very High and Extreme. While it’s important to always be careful when having a campfire, you must be extra cautious when the fire danger in Yellowstone is anything above a Moderate rating.

In summary, follow these basic rules to enjoy campfires in Yellowstone safely.

A Brief History of Forest Fires in Yellowstone

Let’s face it, forest fires are a natural part of forest’s lifecycle. Unfortunately, some forest fires are human caused and even when not directly caused by humans – some argue that global warming leads to more fires and more serious ones. Let’s take a look at the history of forest fires in Yellowstone National Park and Yellowstone policy on fires.

forest fires in yellowstone

The history of forest fires in Yellowstone begin to be first accurately recorded in 1972. Since then, the park averages 26 fires across over 5,000 acres burned per year. The most active fire year in Yellowstone was 2016 when over 70,000 acres burned. While Yellowstone has recently averaged fewer fires per year, the number of acres burned per year has increased.

As mentioned, forest fires in Yellowstone are both natural and human caused. On average, 78% of fires are caused by lighting and the other 22% are human caused.

Surprisingly (since not as recent), the Yellowstone fires of 1988 are remembered as the worst year on record of fires in Yellowstone. In 1988, 793,000 acres burned which was nearly 1/3 of all land area in the entire park.

As such, it’s extremely important to practice fire safety in Yellowstone. While yes, campfires are allowed in Yellowstone – there is a reason they are only at designated campsites and backcountry campsites. Continue to practice campfire safety to reduce the risk of human caused forest fires.