The old romantic days of cooking over an open fire and lounging around a big campfire are just about over. The price is too high in old scarce trees, especially at higher elevations. And no matter where, campfire scars are a blemish. Mountaineers now cook almost exclusively on lightweight stoves they carry with them, a big step toward low-impact, no-trace camping.

Some simple rules apply in case you do build a campfire. Keep it small, within an existing fire ring, and only where it's safe and legal. Stay there until the fire is dead and the ashes cold. For firewood, use only dead or downed wood from outside the camp area; never cut a standing tree or snag. You might consider using a stove, even if camp-fires are permitted, because the stove fire doesn't mar the landscape and because it's more dependable than counting on finding firewood.

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