Campfires banned on southern PCT

The Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and National Park Service have released restrictions that essentially ban campfires along most of the Pacific Crest Trail south of Yosemite, even with a campfire permit. This is the southern 930 miles of the trail.

Often, smoking outside on public land is also prohibited. See our general page on fire information. These restrictions are not PCT-specific. They are in effect broadly on public lands.

Similar restrictions in place for Northern California.

New regulations extend the ban

BLM Fire Prevention Order Number CA-060-2013-01 establishes seasonal “Stage II” Fire Restrictions for BLM land along the PCT from the Mexican Border to Walker Pass/Highway 178 (PCT mile 651). The seasonal restrictions will run from May 15th through October each year. (BLM-CDD press release)

SoCal BLM Fire Restriction Map

Southern California BLM map showing Stage II fire restriction area.

From the BLM Stage II fire prevention order:

Setting, building, maintaining, attending, or using open fire of any kind, except campfires within approved fire pits and grills provided for in developed recreation sites, is prohibited. Controlled flame devices such as portable stoves fueled by petroleum or LPG products are allowed by permit.

Effective June 28th: Inyo National Forest is banning fires, even with a campfire permit,  including in wilderness areas.  The PCT crosses Inyo National Forest land from about miles 705 – 754 and miles 902 to 930.(Inyo NF press release)

“Ongoing drought conditions, well below average rain and snowfall this past winter and warmer than average temperatures have led to very dry conditions for this time of year,” said Inyo National Forest Supervisor Ed Armenta. “We are experiencing very high fire danger and continued hot and dry weather patterns here in the eastern Sierra.”

Effective July 1, 2013: Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park is instituting Stage 2 Fire Restrictions for backcountry travel that prohibit “wood or barbecue fires at any elevation.” Gas or propane stoves are still permitted.

Smoking is prohibited in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park under the Stage 2 Fire Restrictions except within an enclosed vehicle, a building which allows smoking, or a campground where wood fires are allowed.

Sequoia National Park always bans fires above either 9,000 or 10,400 feet depending on your location. and Yosemite National Parks prohibits campfires above 9,600 feet in elevation.

Effective July 2, 2013: Sierra National Forest is implementing fire restrictions forest wide. The PCT crosses Sierra National Forest from miles 856 – 902. They prohibit “fires, campfires, or stove fires (except a portable stove using gas or pressurized liquid)”, smoking and other activities.

Campfires are always banned, even with a campfire permit, along the PCT in the Cleveland National Forest, San Bernardino National Forest, Angeles National Forest, and Mount San Jacinto State Park. The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park requires metal containers for all campfires and wood fuel to be packed in.

Campfires are also banned along many other areas of the PCT. More seasonal campfire bans are likely as the fire danger increases.

Combined, these restrictions prohibit campfires along most of the PCT south of Yosemite National Park (PCT mile 930), except in developed campgrounds. A known exception is Sierra National Forest (PCT mile 856-902), where their normal fire restrictions are still in place. (Sierra NF joined the restrictions on July 2nd.)

Legal consequences

In National Parks and National Forests, violation of campfire prohibitions is subject to punishment by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months or both. Persons may also be responsible for resource damage, suppression costs and any injuries that occur if they are found liable for causing a wildfire.

On BLM land, any person convicted of knowingly and willfully violating a Fire Prevention Order can be fined up to $1,000, receive up to 12 months in jail, or both. That person is also liable for the cost of damages and suppression of the fire.

Author: Jack "Found" Haskel

As the Trail Information Specialist, Jack works to connect people to the PCT. He's involved with a wide variety of projects that help the trail, the trail's users and the community that surrounds the experience. He has thru-hiked (Pacific Crest Trail in 2006; Colorado Trail in 2008; Continental Divide Trail in 2010) and is an obsessed weekend warrior.