Beach Fires Within Point Reyes National Seashore

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Beach Fire Rules and Regulations

If you intend to build a wood fire within the park during your stay, you must read and understand the following.

 
The words "winter spare the air" in a solid orange circle.
Is there a Winter Spare the Air Alert in effect?

Permits

Permits are required for any wood fire ignited within the National Seashore. Permits are available at visitor centers, the dispatch office, and from field rangers. Permits may only be obtained on the day you plan on having a fire. The permit is free. Permits are not available or valid:

  • during very hot, dry weather conditions;
  • when there are strong winds over 48 km/h (30 mph);
  • during high, very high, or extreme fire danger conditions;
  • by order of the Superintendent; or
  • on Winter Spare the Air days.

For current fire information, please call 415-464-5100 x2 x1.

Wood fires & locations

Wood fires are allowed only on beaches (below the high tide line, if possible, in order to Leave No Trace), 9 meters (30 feet) or more from vegetation and other flammable material—nowhere else. For your own safety, locate the fire 9 meters (30 feet) or more from the base of bluffs and cliffs—rockfalls from the park's bluffs and cliffs are a daily occurrence and, every now and then, large sections of cliff face collapse.

Wood fire fuel

Reasonable amounts of driftwood may be gathered from ocean-facing beaches. The collection of driftwood for fires is prohibited on Tomales Bay. Driftwood should be dry and clean (i.e., no wood coated with creosote or other chemicals; no plywood or other materials with glue; no wood embedded with nails or other metal objects), and shouldn't be much larger or longer than your leg.

 
Cartoon of burning wood with the words "Buy It Where You Burn It" above and "don'tmovefirewood.org" below

Don't Move Firewood: Buy it where you burn it

If you bring firewood from outside of the park, wait until you are in West Marin before purchasing the firewood to reduce the risk of spreading insect pests or diseases. Firewood can carry invasive insects and diseases that can kill native trees. New infestations of these insects and diseases can destroy our forests, lessen property values, and cost a great deal to monitor, manage and control.
Learn more about the "Buy it where you burn it" principle below.

Sudden Oak Death

In particular, do not bring oak, fir, redwood, madrone, tanoak, or other species that are susceptible to Phytophthora ramorum unless they are certified to be free of this fungus that causes Sudden Oak Death. Download the most up-to-date list of plant species that are susceptible to Sudden Oak Death infestation (173 KB PD). To limit the spread of Phytophthora ramorum, please do not transport wood from these species. Visit the California Oak Mortality Task Force's and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service's websites for more information.

 
Long pieces of wood on a sandy beach which are burnt in the middle, overlaid by a red circle with a diagonal line.
Do not use pieces of wood more than three feet in length to build fires.

Fire size

The fire may not be more than 0.9 meters (36 inches) in diameter.

Water sources for dousing (putting out) the fire

Of course, there is a large amount of water out in the ocean or in the bay adjacent to any of the beaches at which fires are permitted. But, given that it may not be safe to retrieve water from the ocean due to large surf, be sure to obtain and bring along plenty of water (potentially several gallons worth) before you arrive at the beach. There are water faucets at the base of the outdoor showers at Drakes, Limantour, and North beaches; however, there have been occasions during which water was unavailable due to pipeline breaks, pump failures, etc.

Proper dousing

Before leaving your beach fire, put it out completely with water. Douse the fire with water, stir the coals, douse with water again. Repeat until the coals do not emit any heat; the coals should be cold enough to handle with your bare hands. Do not cover the coals with sand as it will only insulate any residual heat and be an unseen danger to wildlife and barefoot visitors.

Extinguishing time

Fires must be extinguished by 11 pm.

Charcoal fires

Charcoal fires are allowed in the Bear Valley and Drakes Beach picnic areas and the backcountry campgrounds in the grills provided. Visitors may also have charcoal fires in their own self-contained barbecue grills. Completely extinguish the briquettes and pack out the ash and charcoal. Visitors planning to cook food over a beach fire or barbecue should come prepared with an alternative means (i.e., self-contained gas stove) of cooking in the event of high, very high, or extreme fire danger.

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Cartoon of burning wood with the words "Buy It Where You Burn It" above and "don'tmovefirewood.org" below.

Buy It Where You Burn It

Please be aware that our forests across the country are threatened by nonnative insects and diseases that can kill large numbers of trees. Sudden Oak Death, Goldspotted oak borer, pitch canker, Emerald ash borer, and Asian longhorned beetle can be transported long distances in firewood. Once transported into new areas, these insects and diseases can become established and kill local trees. You can help reduce the risk of spreading nonnative insects and diseases by:

  • Leaving firewood at home—do not transport it to campgrounds or parks.
  • Using firewood from local sources. Ask your firewood seller where he/she obtained the wood. If it isn't nearby, or its origin is unknown, consider obtaining your firewood from another local firewood seller.
  • Buying only what you'll need, and burning all firewood before leaving your campsite if you will be leaving the local area.

Frequently Asked Questions

When we say local firewood, we are referring to the closest convenient source of wood that you can find. As a very general guide: 80 kilometers (50 miles) is too far, and 16 kilometers (10 miles) or less is best. For Point Reyes National Seashore, please wait until you are in Inverness, Inverness Park, Olema, or Point Reyes Station before purchasing firewood.
The short answer to this is that most packaged heat-treated firewood with a USDA APHIS heat treatment seal, or a state based (such as a State Department of Agriculture) heat treatment seal is considered safe to move. Please note that just being labeled "kiln-dried" is quite different, and should not be considered safe to move. For more information, please visit the related blog post "Kiln Dried vs Heat Treated Firewood" on dontmovefirewood.org.
Burn it quickly and completely. The sooner and faster you burn the wood, the less risk you’ll pose to local live trees. Make sure to also rake up any dropped leaves, bark, twigs or other debris and burn them, as well. (Note: Please check in with the Bear Valley Visitor Center or call 415-464-5100 x2 x1 for current fire information/restrictions before burning wood waste on park beaches.)

Additional FAQs can be found on dontmovefirewood.org's Frequently Asked Questions page and the California Firewood Task Force's Frequently Asked Questions: Moving Firewood Can Spread Invasive Species page.

More Information

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Last updated: September 14, 2019

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1 Bear Valley Road
Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

Phone:

(415) 464-5100
This number will initially be answered by an automated attendant, from which one can opt to access a name directory, listen to recorded information about the park (i.e., directions to the park; visitor center hours of operation; weather forecast; fire danger information; shuttle bus system status; wildlife updates; ranger-led programs; seasonal events; etc.), or speak with a ranger. Please note that if you are calling between 4:30 pm and 10 am, park staff may not be available to answer your call.

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