Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

How to Build a Campfire and Cook Delicious Treats on It

By Maxye Henry

There’s nothing quite like a campfire to make your adventure complete. Can you imagine anything more relaxing at the end of a day outdoors than the sound of a crackling fire, the woodsy smell of smoke and the gentle glow of the coals? Have a cookout or a sing-along at the campsite, tell stories and roast marshmallows or other treats. These tips will help keep you safe and cozy.

pot cooking over campfire

1. Know the Rules

Though it may be tempting to build a campfire where one is not permitted, camping rules and regulations were created for one reason: To keep you safe. Call ahead to make sure that campfires will be permitted where you want to stay. If not, and if having a campfire is important to you, you might want to find another park.

Keep in mind that fire rules can change on a daily basis depending on weather conditions. If a park posts "No open fires due to dry or windy conditions," always be sure to comply for the safety of all.

2. Use Designated Fire Pits

If campfires are permitted, use the area that has been designated. These areas were chosen for a good reason (a good windbreak, good brush clearance, etc.). If there is not a formal fire area, make sure that your fire ring is surrounded by a circle of rocks large enough to keep wood and kindling contained so it won’t blow or tumble over the sides.

3. Clear Area of All Debris

Make sure there are no extraneous twigs, leaves, paper products or other flammables within several feet of your campfire. And don't forget to look up. Overhanging branches should be avoided.

4. Use the Right Wood

Different kinds of wood are needed to make a great campfire. Start by gathering a supply of all three:
* Tinder — small twigs, wood shavings, dry leaves or grass that will ignite easily will help get your fire going. (Never use flammable liquids to start a fire!)
* Kindling, or small sticks one-inch in diameter or less, go on next. Make sure to let your kindling get burning well.
* Fuel, or larger pieces of dry wood that will burn for longer periods of time.

Be sure to stack your wood in separate piles, well away from the fire area. Never pull branches off trees or cut living vegetation.

5. Don't Over-Build

Campfires can easily get away from you. Keep your campfire well within the borders of the pit, and keep it small to avoid sparking. You can always snuggle up to the fire (or each other) to keep warm.

6. Be Ready to Put it Out

Be sure to have a bucket of water and a shovel, or a fire extinguisher, nearby.

7. Be Safe

Enjoy your campfire, but be safe. Make sure an adult is present at all times, and discourage running or horseplay near a campfire.

8. Douse, Dredge and Dig

Before leaving the campsite, make sure that your campfire is completely out-and that means doing more than just dousing it with water once or twice. Douse with water, dredge up the fire to uncover any hot spots and douse again. Finish up by turning over the fire debris to make sure everything is cold, and never put fire ash into trash receptacles.

With a few precautions, you can ensure that your campfire experience brings you wonderful memories of toasted marshmallows and smiling faces.


You don’t even need a long-handled popcorn popper for this one!

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
4 teaspoons popcorn
heavy-duty foil
campfire fork

Tear off an 18-inch piece of foil. Pour the oil and popcorn into the middle. Bring 2 opposite foil corners together above the popcorn and fold them over 3 times to seal well. Bring remaining foil corners up toward the center and roll open edges together to seal the 'foil tent' closed. (There should be enough room inside for the popcorn to pop.) Poke the ends of a campfire fork through the folds of foil at top of pack. Set pack into hot coals until oil sizzles and you hear a kernel pop. Then pick up fork and gently shake the pack above the coals until popping is done. Open the pack and add salt.

Variations: Instead of plain salt, use herb-seasoned salt; minced garlic combined with dried rosemary, thyme or dill; pepper and grated parmesan cheese; or Cajun seasoning.

On green sticks or skewers, thread one or more marshmallows. Toast over campfire until gooey. Some folks like their marshmallows charred so they can peel off the burnt “skin” and keep toasting each layer.

Toast marshmallows as above. Put four chocolate candy-bar squares on a graham cracker, top with one or two marshmallows and another graham cracker to make a sandwich.

Spread about 3 tablespoons of plain or crunchy peanut butter over half of an 8-to-10-inch flour tortilla. Top with some marshmallows, semisweet chocolate chips and banana slices. Fold the tortilla in half, pressing gently to flatten and seal slightly. Grill in a wire basket or directly on the grill, turning once, until tortilla is golden. Cut each empanada into 4 wedges.

Cut a slit in a banana from stem to stern (leaving skin on). Fill with your favorite ingredients, such as chocolate, butterscotch or carob chips, chopped nuts, mini-marshmallows, peanut butter, graham-cracker or cookie crumbs, crumbled candy pieces or raisins. Close up the banana and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on the barbecue or in the campfire (keeping it relatively right-side up!) for about 5 minutes.

Use one Granny Smith, Mackintosh or other good cooking apple for each serving. Peel and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar and wrap in heavy foil and cook for 10-15 minutes until the apples are tender. Or cook unpeeled on a skewer, peel after cooking and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Chopped peanuts, walnuts or pecans would be good, too!

1 small (8 oz.) box yellow cake mix
6 large thick-skinned oranges
heavy aluminum foil

Cut a 2-inch slice off of the top of each orange and set aside. Hollow out the shell, being careful not to cut through the skin. Prepare the cake mix with water per the instructions. Fill each orange-peel shell half full of cake mix. Replace the top and wrap in foil. Bake in hot coals or on the grill about 20 minutes, turning often. Serve the orange fruit with the cake.


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

The Department of Environmental Conservation operates 52 campgrounds located in the Adirondack and Catskill parks. These campgrounds provide a wide variety of experiences, including island camping, tent and trailer camping, boat-launching facilities, hiking trails, beaches and day-use areas with picnic tables and grills. Fishing licenses are no longer being sold at any of DEC’s campground facilities. For more information call (800) 456-CAMP.

For campers who want a wilderness experience, backcountry camping is available. For more information call (518) 402-9428. State campgrounds outside the Forest Preserves are operated by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. For more information call (518) 474-0456.

For further information on this program, contact the Region 5 Ray Brook Office at (518) 897-1319 or New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233,

Cherrystone Family Camping Resort - Cape Charles, Virginia

From pull-thrus for the big rigs to shaded sites for trailers, tents and pop ups, you’ll be comfortable at Cherrystone, no matter what your camping needs might be.

Cherrystone is situated on 300 acres of waterfront property and is bound on three sides by King’s Creek, Cherrystone Creek and the Chesapeake Bay. All sorts of water activities from boating to crabbing and fishing are available.

Cherrystone Family Camping Resort
1511 Townfield Dr
Cape Charles, VA 23310
(757) 331-3063

Campark Resorts - Niagara Falls, Ontario

Campark has more than 400 sites located throughout the park to fit any camper’s needs. There are plenty of grassy, treed areas for tents, camping cabins and even full hook-up and pull-thru lots for big rigs. All sites include a picnic table and a fire pit.

If you want more luxury than what a tent offers, try one of the cozy camping cabins. These unserviced cabins provide all the fun and excitement of camping out with all the security and comfort of camping in. Camping cabins make it easy and economical for families to travel and camp. They include a double bed and a bunk bed for the kids. Washroom and showers are nearby (no pets allowed inside cabins; please bring your own linens).

Campark Resorts
9387 Lundy's Lane (Highway 20)
Niagara Falls, ON L2E6S4
(877) 226-7275

Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort - Niagara Falls, Ontario

Visit this family-oriented campground located just minutes from the brink of mighty Niagara Falls. Jellystone Niagara is close to Marineland, Zoos, numerous golf courses, nature trails, shopping and outlet malls. Tours may be booked through the resort.

Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park Camp-Resort
8676 Oakwood Drive
Niagara Falls, ON L2E 6S5
(800) 558-2954
(905) 354-1432

Find more featured campsites on Woodall's.