As the summer heats up, camping season is upon us. And so is fire season. However, don’t let the lack of a campfire prevent you from having a classic memorable camping experience. There are plenty of light alternatives and fun nighttime adventures that only need a trusty flashlight or the light of a full moon. So whether you're looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or an action-packed vacation, check out some flame alternatives and leave the kindling at home.
If you just cannot imagine camping without the fireside chats as the sunlight fades into the horizon, never fear. There are plenty of other options for lighting up your campsite. Battery operated flame lights provide the perfect ambience without the worry of a fire. Or how about some good old fashioned solar lights? These can be found almost anywhere these days, and they are an environmentally friendly way to light up your campsite. You can even find solar lanterns that mimic the look of a real campfire.
Finally, a candle lantern. This choice has several advantages. For one thing, candles are less expensive than firewood. They also burn longer and require less maintenance and they are in an enclosed container. And the best part? They’re portable, so you may shift the discussion to another area if you wish.
You don’t need to stay at your campsite once the sun goes down. Take advantage of the La Plata County stargazing opportunities. Ditch the fire for a telescope, binoculars or just your eyes. Programs like Google Sky are making stargazing even easier these days. Better yet, ditch the phone completely and visit a local bookstore to get a star chart.
If you want to get up close and personal with some nocturnal creatures, bring along a headlamp and go for a night hike. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes and long pants to avoid getting scraped up by brush or scratched by cactuses. And always be aware of your surroundings to avoid any dangerous wildlife encounters. There are plenty of other things to do at night besides staring at a campfire.
Campfires are a classic camping experience, but they come with a lot of drawbacks and can be dangerous if not managed properly. Before lighting your campfire, always be sure to check fire restrictions websites such as https://bit.ly/3mA5W3q. Next time you head out, consider a fun campfire alternative. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it.
Weylin Ryan is Visit Durango's sustainability and policy manager.