Winter campfires - Utah / Arizona strip

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Titans

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During our last road trip I asked you all for help with regards to your experience with "quicksand" and later "hiking naked in Utah". There was a third thing, I was uncertain about, but I never posted it. It's about campfires in Utah and the Arizona strip.

Background: We went to White Pocket in mid December and car camped in 16F. We brought some firewood, that we purchased ahead of time in Kanab. But to our surprise, there was no fire ring with stones, raised metal pan or any indication what so ever, that anyone had a campfire there previously. We looked all around, including in the second area where @Nick and @Cool Danish camped previously many years ago. The main parking area is very wide, all sandy. The second area is a wide flat slick rock area. It was windstill that night. There was zero campfire information/warning on the big info board. Long story short, we did NOT make a winter campfire, UNCERTAIN ABOUT BLM REGULATIONS and generally worried about accidentally starting a wildfire. We enjoyed the Milky Way and the meteors tremendously- great night, even though it was 16F and let's say pretty :cold:

1) What's the general BLM rule with regards to camp fires in southern Utah and the Arizona strip? Does it depend on the time of the year and local rules? (We saw many campfires in "Valley of the Gods" BLM land close to Bluff, Utah, so I wrongly assumed White Pocket would have several stone rings or like. We did have a campfire in the ring on Deer Creek campground off Burr trail rd. @Nick also mentioned "bring fire wood" for the next BCP meet-up in spring !)

2) For primitive winter car camping in areas such as White Pocket and like - do any of you use propane heaters in the winter to stay warm outside in the evening? Which kind do you like? Any other ideas (except for layering up and pacing back and forth at 2am looking at meteors in 16F). I thought to remember @IntrepidXJ saying: "we are staying warm with ...." one winter afternoon when we passed their camp. What did you use?
 

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Nick

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#2
If there aren't restrictions in place, it's usually okay. Usually restrictions are only when the fire risk is high, but there are exceptions. Valley of Gods is always a no fire zone. GSENM technically requires fires to be in a fire pan but not many stick to that. It is curious that rings get taken down in some spots sometimes. I assume this is the BLM doing that. Sometimes I'm glad they do it when someone made a dumb ring, other times I'm really perplexed by it. I'm not sure what the legality is of creating a new pit, but I would be very hesitant about that. The best bet would be to carry a fire pan and do have your fire without leaving a trace.

I picked up a pop-up pit last year from this company: https://firesideoutdoor.com/products/popup-pit. They're getting really popular among river folk right now who are required to have a pan. This one is better than most because it's light and packs down like a camp chair. A small ammo can or other air tight container would be ideal for disposing of the ash but a trash bag would be fine too.
 

Nick

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#3
Also, I picked up a propane pit last year. I was skeptical but I really like it for when it's not bitter cold. Provides great ambience, leaves no mess, quick and easy to setup/breakdown, and perhaps best of all, you don't stink like a fire from it. This is the one I got: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000L4HSH8/?tag=backcountrypo-20

Some pics of it in action:
IMG_0578.jpg

IMG_0114.jpg

IMG_0200.jpg


And this is the pop-up pit. I haven't used it yet, but Nebo likes it and I think it'll be great from looking at it and reviews I've read.
IMG_0896.jpg
 
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1. Typically on most BLM land you can have a campfire as long as there are no current restrictions. If you don't find any existing fire ring you can build your own, but I try to avoid doing that. There's nothing worse than coming to a campsite and finding like 5 different fire rings within 20 feet of each other. Like Nick mentioned, you can carry a fire pan and have a fire in that, too. This is the required method for river trips and it works out pretty well without leaving a mess. Now, the White Pocket is actually within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument which might have different regulations, but I just searched and could not find anything specific to campfires, so I would default to regular BLM regulations then.

2. I just tried a Mr. Heater for the first time this winter and it seemed to work really well at keeping our tent warm. We would only use it shortly before we went to bed to warm the tent up and then for a short time in the morning before we got out of our sleeping bags.

D
1) What's the general BLM rule with regards to camp fires in southern Utah and the Arizona strip? Does it depend on the time of the year and local rules? (We saw many campfires in "Valley of the Gods" BLM land close to Bluff, Utah, so I wrongly assumed White Pocket would have several stone rings or like. We did have a campfire in the ring on Deer Creek campground off Burr trail rd. @Nick also mentioned "bring fire wood" for the next BCP meet-up in spring !)

2) For primitive winter car camping in areas such as White Pocket and like - do any of you use propane heaters in the winter to stay warm outside in the evening? Which kind do you like? Any other ideas (except for layering up and pacing back and forth at 2am looking at meteors in 16F). I thought to remember @IntrepidXJ saying: "we are staying warm with ...." one winter afternoon when we passed their camp. What did you use?
 
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#5
I did find this info about the White Pocket: https://www.blm.gov/visit/white-pocket-trailhead

The popularity of White Pocket is leading to impacts in the form of exposed human waste and toilet paper, excessive campfire rings, and vegetation damage.
This leads me to believe that the BLM or some other group went in and cleaned up all the existing fire rings there. Maybe they should have left one or two?
 

Titans

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Also, I picked up a propane pit last year. I was skeptical but I really like it for when it's not bitter cold. Provides great ambience, leaves no mess, quick and easy to setup/breakdown, and perhaps best of all, you don't stink like a fire from it. This is the one I got: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000L4HSH8/?tag=backcountrypo-20

Some pics of it in action:
View attachment 74728
View attachment 74727
View attachment 74726

And this is the pop-up pit. I haven't used it yet, but Nebo likes it and I think it'll be great from looking at it and reviews I've read.
View attachment 74729
Ah... cute....Kitties love boxes, paper, metal.... I bet it only took seconds before Nebo jumped into it.

Both the pop-up-pit and the propane pit are great ideas. Thanks!
 

Titans

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I did find this info about the White Pocket: https://www.blm.gov/visit/white-pocket-trailhead



This leads me to believe that the BLM or some other group went in and cleaned up all the existing fire rings there. Maybe they should have left one or two?
That crossed my mind too, someone cleaned the area up before mid December. I expected toilet paper all over and we saw none, not one piece.
But clearing every single fire ring was surprising to see. I think we will get a fire pan or pop-up-pit for the next trip.

Mr Heater: I just heard about "Mr Heater" Monday morning. A friend of ours loves that heater for his garage. He has a lift and Rick and him work on cars, it's great in the winter, he said. Our heating furnace at home went out (18 year old blower went bad) and it was 12F outside Monday morning. I was looking for electrical heaters to borrow temporarily from neighbors and he said he had the propane Mr Heater with a low oxygen shut off. I didn't try it- but it sounds like it worked great for you too! Thanks.
 

Jazzy Joe

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#9
Love my Mr heater buddy, one of my favorite pieces of camping gear. I used it a couple of years ago when the furnace in my apartment went out and it kept us warm for a few days.
I'm headed out to white pocket this weekend so I'm hoping there is now a fire pit to use, I really am not a fan of building them, if not ill probably just rely on the buddy heater.
 

Nick

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Another nice (and cheap) firepan alternative is to use one of these metal oil pans: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000BOB7RU/?tag=backcountrypo-20

Using just one can scorch the ground which is a no-no on rivers, but if you get two and turn one upside down and stack them, then you have a river-approved fire pan that is cheap and easy to take anywhere. Also, in a lot of places you could just bury your ash (not on rivers).
 

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powderglut

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I've been to White pocket 3 times. I know I've seen fire rings in the sandy parking lot. Even some wood left over from an old camp fire. I know this because we were camped at Stateline CG and decided to take the wood back to our camp. Waste not, want not. I'm guessing the BLM folks must have cleaned up the area on your recent trip.
If we were camping up there.......I personally would have made a campfire on the sand, especially in temps that cold. The campfire pan makes total sense....probably should get one. Yep!
 

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