High Park Forest Fire and Camping Safety 2

No votes yet.
Please wait...

camp-out-colorado-high-park-forest-fire-smokeWe recently had to cut short a camping trip in Colorado due to the High Park Forest Fire. The experience was a harsh reminder of the importance of camping common sense. We all like to get away from the “real world” when we go camping. For some campers, it means shutting off cell phones and leaving computers and other links to society behind. While I do think it’s important to disconnect on your camping vacation, and recharge without the electronic gadgets, this shouldn’t mean you totally shut off the outside world. It’s important to at least scan the news and know about major happenings in the world or at least in the area. A responsible camper still needs to use some camping common sense so they can remain safe and prepared for whatever may happen, be it natural or manmade.

Here are a few camping common sense tips every camper should keep in mind.

Keep Informed About the Weather While Camping

Weather can change frequently and suddenly. When you are engaging in outdoor activities, the weather can have a major impact on your day. It’s important to check the weather forecast at least once a day to get an update. It’s easier to plan your day if you know what to expect. Watching the skies is helpful, but make sure you check out a real weather forecast.  If you know thunderstorms are expected in the afternoon, you will know to get your boating done before lunch and checking the weather forecast has saved me from getting snowed in while camping! An early season blizzard isn’t the only thing that can be dangerous when you are out camping.  Hail, heavy rains, heavy winds, tornadoes, very hot, and very cold weather, may put an end to your camping trip.

Talk to the Locals at or Near Your Campground

camp-out-colorado-rainingThey often know about the area you are camping in and are usually happy to answer any questions. You can easily learn about things that are happening in the area around your campground. Be sure to ask specific questions if there is something going on in the area such as a forest fire. They can often help you learn about places that are not on a map, how the weather has been, lake and river conditions, and other pieces of important local information you may not be able to get in any other way.

Be aware of Natural Disasters when Camping

As the High Park Forest Fire has illustrated, it is important to be aware of things that can potentially affect you while camping.

We left on our camping trip in the morning and the High Park Forest Fire was burning far from the campground where we had reservations. By the end of the afternoon, we saw reports that it had moved nearly 20 miles closer in a single day! The day was very windy with terrible gusts and we quickly realized that if the fire kept up that pace, it would easily reach us where we were camping.  By keeping an eye on the progress of the High Park Forest Fire, we were able to know it was time for us to leave.

Even if there isn’t something currently going on, you should at least take a little time to find out if you are in an area for potential fires, floods, storms, or anything else that could threaten you and the safety of those you are camping with.

Have at Least One Escape Route from the Campground

No matter where you are camping or how safe you may be, make sure you have at least one escape plan. Be sure that this escape route is different from the primary route you took initially to your campsite.

In many places, especially in Colorado and the Rocky Mountains, there may only be one or two ways into the area. If this is the case, and something like the High Park Forest Fire is threatening your ability to escape, you should do everything you can to leave the area before you are unable to do so. Many campgrounds are located in valleys and have very little choice option of how you can enter or exit the area. Make sure you know your options and take appropriate actions should your escape route from your campsite be threatened by fire, flood, or anything else.

Colorado Atlas

Colorado Atlas

If you can keep these few simple rules in mind for every camping trip you take, you can save yourself a lot of trouble and it may even save your life. Forest fires, storms, floods, and other natural disasters can wreak havoc on the natural beauty of the places we love, but we also must remember they can do the same to unprepared campers.

The High Park Forest Fire was a stark reminder of how fast and furious a wild fire can get out of hand. What’s more is the speed at which it can travel through these forests. The pines of the Colorado Rockies have been severely affected by pine beetles, resulting in many dead or dying trees, providing plenty of fuel for a fire. The problem was made worse this year due to drought conditions. This “perfect storm” has resulted in an early and severe start to the wildfire season.

Everyone on our camping trip ended up disappointed but safe. I hope these few camping common sense tips help you enjoy nature and be safe as well.

No votes yet.
Please wait...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.

2 thoughts on “High Park Forest Fire and Camping Safety

  • Nathan

    Great advice, that’s scary you were so close. I tend to disconnect from the world while backpacking, but this year has been a good reminder to stay in touch. Also, have seen so many downed trees and even had one fall at our camp site due to beetle kill and high winds, be careful choosing camp sites!