At a Campground
Fire Type Roaring inferno
Fuel While collecting firewood is usually only verboten in national parks, any established campground will be pretty bare of dead wood. Buy firewood in dry, prepackaged bundles from markets or farm stands in the rural areas that surround wilderness land. They’ll burn quickly in the heavy-duty fire rings that keep fires contained and quickly form coals for marshmallow roasting. Suck at fire starting? Try using fatwood, or small resin-heavy sticks of pine, as kindling.
At a Dispersed Campsite
Fire Type Modest flame
Fuel Many well-used unofficial campsites have rustic fire circles made of rocks. When it’s not against the law, collect twigs and fallen branches for a small fire. Bring dryer lint or newspaper to help start the burn, and use a Frisbee to fan it higher. Remember that burn bans that exempt campgrounds don’t apply to DIY sites.
At a Beach
Fire Type Bonfire
Fuel Within Olympic National Park, at places like Shi Shi and Rialto, or in state parks like Pacific Beach, burn on the sand and only use driftwood; don’t use anything from the forest along the beach. The open waterfront is ideal for inviting yourself to a stranger’s fire.
In the Backcountry
Fire Type None
Fuel In 2015 there were 1,501 wildfires started by humans in Washington—more than double those sparked by lightning—and a record number of acres burned. In the heat of summer, statewide burn bans can make backcountry fires more than unwise; they’re illegal.