Fire Pits

Campfire Ring / Fire Pit

contained fire

a contained fire is a good fire

When camping outside of developed campgrounds, a rock fire ring is the next best thing. But certain areas in California do not allow fires on the ground. In order to have a campfire, you must bring a fire container. This page is an overview.

Always be careful with fire in the outdoors and know current fire restrictions, before you light up anything. BBQ, stove, fire, welder. Managing agencies: BLM, CalFire and USFS (National Forest) ranger stations can determine and set rules for fire use, and enforce those rules.

  • a bucket and a shovel are always required for tending a camp fire.
  • obtain a free campfire permit, before you light a fire in the outdoors.

no ground fire?

No camp fires built directly on the ground is a common rule at some sensitive locations.

  • National Parks
  • Wildlife Refuge / Preserve
  • wilderness areas
  • private campgrounds
  • private RV parks
  • private property camp sites
  • some State Parks (like Anza Borrego Desert)

Campers at Anza Borrego must be prepared to pack out all ashes and charcoal from their campfire, so bring a heavy-duty black garbage bag. Leave No Trace.


option 1 – steel buckets can be found at any hardware store. Galvanized steel is most common and depending on the size can be the cheapest option, overall. (Do not buy a painted metal bucket). Drill holes on side, near the base for better air flow. Place the steel tub on top of rocks for better radiant heat, for those chilly nights sitting around the campfire.


option 2 – old washing machine tub works great for a camp fire too – if you can find one (try the junk yard). The metal is thick and radiates heat way better than the standard steel bucket. They are bigger and bulkier, so bring a truck. If car camping w/ limited storage space, choose option 1.

option 3 – buy a new fire pit. One that can be portable, useful and decorative. Below are shown several styles and there are plenty of designs, depending on your needs. Wrapping this large metal item in an old blanket or tarp (with bungees) may help keep it from rattling while on the road.

camptruckMotorhome RV campers often have some sort of makeshift campfire they can use, when boondocking (camping without a campground).

This camp fire pit may even become a favorite on the backyard patio.


Coleman firepit, circa 2006

Discover more about having a camp fire, outside of a

fireplace outdoors

A SoCal (free) campsite with its own rock fireplace, Idyllwild.