Should RV parks offer ‘No campfire’ zones?

KOA in Missoula, Montana

With campgrounds increasingly packed with RVers and other campers into ever-smaller campsites to accommodate them, do you believe that areas in the parks should be offered where campfires are not allowed?

Many readers have reported that they are allergic to smoke, and studies show that inhaling it is not healthy.

Long ago, hotels, restaurants and other public places banned cigarette smoking, except in certain designated areas. Is it time for the RV industry to follow suit with “No Campfire Zones?”

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46 Thoughts to “Should RV parks offer ‘No campfire’ zones?”

  1. Fred

    Most camp grounds have a camp host whose job is to control and service common areas. Camp host should control camp fires and educate in proper RV edicate.

  2. McCool

    A couple of summers ago, we spent three months as campground hosts at the Grand Canyon Mather Campground (374 sites). It was like living in a forest fire. We could never escape the cloud and smell of smoke. Won’t do that again!

  3. DK

    If you are in a tent I suppose a open fire is ok but I really think it’s a very bad idea in an RV park where my 200k motorhome with 100 gallons of fuel is within 10 feet of a open fire. Nope NO camp fires in an RV park or any place where it’s next to a motorized vehicle.

    1. Jay French

      10 feet separation from camps ?
      Bro, y’all are staying in glorified parking lots.
      The only type of way-too-close type here in Louisiana are a very limited number of RV Resorts which feature extreme family fun & the RV is used only for a mobile bed. These have movie theaters, community pools, swim up bars, golf courses, zip lines & such.
      Never stay at such, can afford real resorts with quality hotel rooms.

  4. Jay French

    I am the Louisiana camper, this means a bonfire every night, community barbecues/fish fry’s/crawfish boils & an outdoor TV usually on a LSU or Saints game, with lots of beer drinking. We cook outside community style every meal & everything we do is semi-organized chaos & fun.
    We often come in groups of campers & make 1 particular campsite the social gathering spot.
    However we are extremely friendly & other campers can wander in, make quick friends & participate with us. Often they will be invited to the next weeks event & can easily become 1 of the crowd.
    This is the only time I use the camping resorts, the rest of the time National Parks & I always have a bonfire at night, cook all meals outdoors & barbecue. Plus my campsite is visitor friendly, stop by grab a cup of coffee, drink a cold beer, sit in a chair & chat.
    We just fail to understand unfriendly type people who fear everything or have a hermit desire.

  5. Teresa

    OK.. Have to leave my “2” cents here. I am very guilty of enjoying a raging fire. I am new to the rv lifestyle…thus, the reason I subscribed to this site. Before reading and attempting to educate myself I did not understand nor even stop to consider that I was bothering anyone else. I just assumed a fire was part of being outdoors. I had never even heard that there was “fire edicate”. Some of us are not rude…just ignorant. Not stupid, just ignorant. There is still hope for some of us!

    1. Jay French

      Ms. Teresa, girl you are not ignorant. If the campground you are using has a fire pit, use it. Generally speaking, don’t burn trash & douse your bonfire out late at night before you turn in is acceptable.
      It is best if you don’t allow the kids to toss leaves into the fire or burn green wood as these create an abnormally large smoke.
      If your neighbor stops by making demands that you extinguish a normal bonfire, explain to them that you are merely using the supplied fire pit & if it bothers them, they should move their camp to another spot.
      For those who have allergies or despise campfire smoke, it is their responsibility to use those facilities where campfires are prohibited or request from the management prior to checking in for a camp spot that is furthest upwind.

  6. JamesGangAZ

    So we are building an RV Campground in the next year in Arizona. I really value your opinions and feedback. We have heard it all. From Adults only on one side of park, family friendly side, no pets and a pet friendly side. No campfires and campfires side. Our sites will be large enough to handle campfires as that is what WE hate the most. Small sites! So this just opened my eyes to the fact that not everyone likes campfires!
    So how does an adult only, no pets, no campfire and no smoking area sound. Is this even possible?
    What else would you all like to see??

    1. Roy Ellithorpe

      I think you will have to decide what your target market will be. I believe that trying to accommodate every demographic and idiosyncrasy
      will bury you.

  7. Bob Godfrey

    How about simply being courteous? When you light the fire and the smoke heads directly into your neighbor’s rig 10 feet away do you feel responsible for that? I would. And then please don’t leave your site with the embers smoldering for the rest of the afternoon and the smoke continuing into the adjoining sites. It’s all about “responsibility” folks ! Yours!

  8. Paul Goldberg

    When we camped in a tent the campfire was for cooking and warmth, a necessity. We enjoyed it and put it out before turning in. Later when we were boondocking on beaches we got together with our neighbors and built a fire to sit around and chat. When we were ready to turn in we put it out. Now I have a fire pit lit by propane that provides the heat we want to sit out in our space and it doesn’t affect anyone else, except one lady who is multiply allergic to most everything and when she comes over we skip the fire, Warmth is inside. When we are on the road we try to find places where a campfire is not necessary for outdoor socialization.

  9. Bill & Kitty BATEMAN

    Out here in the west it is getting more and more rare to even be able to have a campfire in an organized campground OR boondocking from mid June thru October. Yeah, forest/wildland fires are the norm nowadays unfortunately for us all.

  10. Natalie

    Stayed in a small National Forrest Service campground on the coast of Oregon for 2 nights (was supposed to be 5 nights). Campers with adjacent sites across road brought a recently dug up tree stump, about 2 ½ ft wide x 2 ft high, plopped it atop the fire ring, built a fire under it and got it to partially burn. Thereafter it continued to smolder, emitting copious amounts of smoke which wafted around the entire campground night and day. I did ask them if they would either light a proper fire or extinguish the root-log to eliminate the smoke but that did not work. They said there were no restrictions on having a camp fire. Since the wind blew my way most of the time, I left after two nights because I had to keep windows and door closed all the time. What should have been a lovely camping experience in the woods was ruined by inconsiderate campers.

    1. Billy Bob Thorton

      Did they light up their campsite like day, with strings and strings of leds. Or, bring remote control cars for their kids to race around the campground. How about battery powers shooters for their bigger kids. You know, got to have every useless gadget, and live in a doublewide.

  11. Ron

    I also agree with no campfires in RV parks, but would have no problem with one in a campground or boondock location.
    That said…..too often forest fires are started by those that are careless with or neglect to properly put out a campfire.

  12. Michael McCracken

    I deplore RV Parks that allow campfires. There is nothing quite like being next to a person who has the need to have a raging campfire within a few feet of your motorhome. When the wind is in your direction, it fills the air with suffocating smoke inside your motorhome. RV Parks are not “campgrounds”. I find this mostly happens when the summer vacationers decide to go camping with the kids. They need to find campgrounds in the woods or boondock. I don’t see where there is a need in RV Parks these days to have firepits in order to attract visitors. A simple firepit fuelled by propane would be a solution.

    1. Billy Bob Thorton

      It’s all about them dude. Get use to it, unless you think them escaping from their trailer park to act like jerks is going to change.

      1. Jay French

        I’m 1 of the “Them” you describe. I light a bonfire every evening.
        Escape from my trailer park ?
        Guess the closest I own to that category may be the condo on Isla de Mujeres although the “Snowbird” winter place on the golf course in Florida is only 2400 sq/ft.
        Perhaps the “Jerks” instead are the unfriendly hermits or the whiny critic everything needing a Safe Space because words hurt.
        But then I never stay in glorified parking lots where you can not open a canopy without it hitting a neighbors RV.

  13. Brian m

    How about just reducing air pollution in general with no campfires.

  14. Linda Petersen

    Non Smoking campgrounds would be awesome. We could actually enjoy the fresh air and a breeze though our RV with our RV windows open. Instead we are frequently forced to endure the carcinogens from our neighbors second hand smoke. And the stink lingers on after they throw their butts on the ground in their outdoor ashtray.
    There is a CA. RV park we will NEVER stay at again as their pull thru are buddy.spaces, and our shared outdoor area consisted of 10 people gathering day and night to smoke, drink and yack..we left here early. A miserable experience.
    It seems the smokers don’t want to fully enjoy their cigarettes and cigars by smoking them inside their RV with the windows and doors closed. Why? They could get the most smoke for their money that way.
    I can’t count how many cigarette butts we have cleaned up from our campsites on arrival left behind by yet another inconsiderate smoker. ( Bad for pets too).

    How about a pool to see if people would pay for non Smoking camp sites…just like so many now charge $2 for a pet?

  15. rvgrandma

    Campfires? What about BBQ? Nothing more irritating than sitting in your rig when the smell of those steaks come drifting through? I get so upset because it smells great and I am not invited to join in!

    A few years ago, we were at a park that had one big campfire pit for any that wanted one – the only place in the park it was allowed. We had this great fire going, kids from throughout the park were roasting marshmallows and hot dogs when suddenly a neighbor appeared demanding we put it out. Turns out she had breathing problems. Despite that she purposely asked for the spot knowing the fire pit was right behind her. Management also knew her problem but let her have the spot every time she came. Unfortunately the fire had to be put out and many went home disappointed.

  16. Gigi

    I think the people who don’t like a campfire, the essence of camping should just stay at the expensive slabs. They are not really campers, this would leave the nice areas for the real campers.

    1. Michael McCracken

      Gigi, my suggestion is you stay out of RV Parks and go to Campgrounds. There you can join the other Campers and enjoy your campfire. Yes, you are correct us RV’s who choose to stay in “RV Parks”, are not campers. We enjoy having the convenience of traveling this country and staying in full-service RV Parks. For many of us, our RV is our home. We do not enjoy smelling our close neighbors smoke inside and outside our motorhomes. I camped in campgrounds for many years in tents where I could have a firepit, if I chose, and not force someone to smell my smoke.

    2. Darrel

      “Real campers” do not have RVs. “Real campers” do not use RV parks nor organized limited space campgrounds.

      YOU do not get to define terms like “real” unless you want it returned upon you.


  17. TP

    A campfire is fine if you are in a campground in a state or national park where you have some room between sites. Most RV parks however are too small and the owners should consider installing propane or natural gas fire pits. they could add a $5 charge and no smell, no mess, and I bet they could get a propane supplier to cover some or all of the cost for the infrastructure if they signed a long term contract with them.

  18. Bill Lampkin

    So what’s the best Campfire APP for my SkyRocket 90ss SmartPhone??

  19. PennyPA

    I LOVE the smell of a campfire! However, I had lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS) for emphysema 10 years ago and I’m living with less lung capacity than many others. Since I don’t want to aggravate the lungs that I have left, a campfire-free area of a campground would be nice. .. nice but not a law.

  20. Ed

    Would not be a problem if campers were considerate of others, but there are people who are just a pain in the arse and no matter what you do they are only in it for them self. If I start a camp fire and the smoke is hugging the ground to much, I put it out as I don’t want it to get into my unit and I am sure others don’t want it either.

  21. Bill

    Well then no barbecuing either what has happened to camping

    1. Michael McCracken

      Bill, the smell of a barbecue in a charcoal burning grill is not the same! Raging woodburning firepits that put out extensive air filling smoke next to your RV site is unacceptable. RV Parks are not “campgrounds”.

      1. Travling Man

        Smoke is smoke…You can’t discriminate. If those tiny little smoke particles bother a person, then BBQ grills should be banned as well. And no smoking (for those that still do). And for goodness sake, fix that smoking car and generator of yours as well.

        I get this sounds negative, but where would all of the madness end and how would a park owner decide how to run THEIR camp??

        Community fire pits sound good in theory and many might use them. It sounds like fun. Most I have ever seen are empty with no one there. The reality is that many prefer peace and solitude and want to burn a fire at their own campsite without having to go a mile away. No one wants to have to pick everything up just to spend a couple of hours at the community fire pit and many people have lost the art of socialization.

        Either the entire campground is fire/smoke free or not. Just be sure to tell me which one is and which one isn’t. Put a big logo in the upper right hand corner of the website. I need the choice to decide BEFORE I get there.

        If all parks go fire/smoke free (as many are trying by making you BUY THEIR fire wood), I’ll go back to owning wilderness property with a lake and burn many a fire. That is the camping experience (even though it bothers me at times too).

        Just saying…

  22. Lollygagger@large

    Campgrounds should offer smoke-free, pet-free, noise-free, liberal-free and conservative-free zones. How about “other-camper-free” zones?

    Sartre’s observation that “hell is other people” should have been warning sufficient that RVing isn’t for you.

    You could always build your own one-site campground. No other campers; no annoyances.

  23. Joel Vinson

    This is stupid. It’s about being outside, trees, moon, bugs, nature, and campfires. People’s sensibilities are getting ridiculous and have been overbearing to normal people for quite some time now.

    1. Lori Singels

      It may be about trees, moon, bugs, and nature, but if you’re ten feet away from your neighbor, it should NOT be about smoke intrusion from an inconsiderate neighbor.

  24. Traveling Man

    OK…Do we ONLY think about ourselves???

    At times, there are those who don’t know how to build a fire or when to put it out. Maybe there should be classes on this…

    If a park is only 6 acres, how do you think that 1/2 of the park that has campfires will work? Will the smoke go straight up and not influence those that are parked just a 1/2 acre away?

    That leads to whiners against the campers. I get that many can’t stand campfire smoke (both physically and just from a mental state). There are times when “I” don’t like it. Generally, it’s in the fall when everyone has to add tree leaves to the fire. They are smokers for sure! Then, there are those who are too lazy to take their trash to the proper disposal site.

    But now, let’s stop to think about those who have families (well trained ones) that just want to experience a weekend in the woods. Do you want to bar them from the experience? What about when you were a kid camping? How much fun was it roasting marshmallows and spending half the night around the campfire?

    I see this leading to a total ban on campfires because of a few. Oh well, that’s the way governments seem to work as well. The minority yell and get what they want and then the majority who would not say anything get porked. So even though I have trouble from those that don’t know how to fire manage, I still think this “ban” would be a knee-jerk reaction to a few and solve very few problems. If this is/was enforced at a campground, I would protest and go somewhere else (as the majority would likely do).

    AS I STATED EARLIER, there are ways to build campfires and put them out to minimize smoke. Perhaps the park owners should create bulletins to hand out about campfire etiquette. Learn how to manage a proper fire…

    What do campers do to work around Forest Fires? Stay home?

    1. Ron

      I think you need to look at the poll above. 2/3rds of the voters voted yes….not no. So you have the majority and minority reversed in your thinking and pretty much negates your entire reply.

      That said, I love a campfire but hate having my clothes, hair, and inside of my motorhome smelling like a campfire.

      1. Traveling Man

        Contrary…..This is not a scientific poll…It is about WHO is screaming the loudest and who is it that is involved in this particular poll…

        The problem with polls is that you can manipulate them any way you want. The questions; and who this is sent to; and how many respond; That’s what counts.

        Take the latest presidential election…NONE of the polls EVER got it right. I doubt this one is any where near right as well. It’s just a quick “fun” survey from those who actually participate. It really means nothing.

        1. -bret

          Polls: The people who came to this poll are of two kinds. Those that answer every poll ever given by this great website, or for this poll– the ones who are bothered by smoke in a much too small rv park. So yes, you will get skewed response. Those that love to have a fire and don’t realize there is a group who is bothered by smoke, probably will not come to this poll… just my thots after years of burning wood and pine needles!

      2. Rory

        The poll above is by no means a “scientific” poll. 2/3 of the respondents voted Yes. Not 2/3 of all RVer’s. More people should be more considerate in how they manage their fires. But more people should be more tolerantt. Unlike the lady with the breathing problems, who insists on a site right next to a community firepit. Now that is just downright “chronynism” and looking for a chance to create a problem. If she would ask for a site away from the community pit, wouldn’t everyone get to enjoy their time @ the park, including her. She just wants to be confrontational.

  25. Dr4Film ----- Richard

    Since RV Parks and Campgrounds are attempting to squeeze every last inch out of their property to get as much income as possible, YES, campfire free sites should be mandatory. If they would have built the sites large enough so that your neighbor isn’t looking into your window constantly with PLENTY of space between the sites then having a campfire next door to you would not be an issue. Remember second hand smoke kills people. Again as you stated there is a BIG difference between RV Camping and RV Living. If you want to build a big bonfire or burn your trash then go stay at some BLM where you nearest neighbor is a football field away.

    1. Clayobx

      Much too logical for most of today’s RV owners to grasp. RV properties or campgrounds are not the “woods” to burn wet wood, dig a latreen, etc. etc. common sense is a lost art.

  26. MoJo

    Campfires have been an integral part of camping since its inception. Has it occurred to the politically correct control component that if you’re allergic to smoke, pollen or mosquitoes, maybe camping should not be you first activity of choice. A zoned campground ? What’s next?

    1. Michael McCracken

      Mojo, stick to the woods! If you are a true camper, you don’t need the full-hookup convenience of a RV Park. You can have your campfire and enjoy it to your heart’s content. RV Parks are not campgrounds. Most park sites are very close together. Filling my motorhome with campfire smoke and forcing me to smell your smoke.

  27. Old Chief

    Burning trash is a separate issue – in some places it’s illegal and in every place it’s wrong. We had an issue with that at our current location last week. I’m in favor of making trash burners leave the campground with no refund.

    That said – it *is* camping. I hear Marriott’s are campfire free 🙂

  28. Jeannie

    For those of us who have breathing difficulties, it would be great if there was a smoke free zone (I know, the wind makes it hard to be 100%) particularly when some campers are burning their garbage in their campfires because they don’t want to be bothered to take it to the dump station. Campers need to be more considerate of their fellow campers but there seems to be a large number of uneducated campers out there now.

    1. Terry

      Agreed. When we build a fire , we move around as the smoke line changes …. yet when someone else blows smoke into out sites/rigs, we do not have that option. We live a campfire, but with that cones the responsibility of building/tending to it so smoke affects no one. We were in a park that basically was a parking lot w trees, in Sycamore IL, the two sites behind us used wet wood… black smoke filled our closed rig. The first guy tended the fire to accommodate the change in wind… no ongoing issue (except wheezing a smoke filled everything throughout the camper ) the next guy just gave attitude, built his wet bonfire higher… black smoke covered the entire section of the camp (~100 site’s) and hung so low it was around the rigs not even above them, and it sent me to the ER… don’t even think about all the cleaning/laundry that had to be done in order to use that rig again…
      camping used to be about outdoors, fresh air, time out, meeting people w similar interests (nature, camping, wholesome family time) and consideration for the environment , the other campers. I am for area that is smoke and pet free… if people choose to stay there, a common fire pit away from the site’s (group pit) is usually available. However, owners need to correct the issues for campers who desire a pit but not other people’s smoke in their faces/rigs.

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