No backyard fire pit, no problem! Read or watch our instructions for creating a successful fire, choose a location, and head out on your fireside adventure. Building a fire is a fun and cozy outdoor activity. Toast a marshmallow, grill a meal, or just enjoy the warmth, light, and smokey smell.
How to Make a Fire
- Choose a location from our list below, and make sure your spot is clear from overhanging tree branches and anything flammable.
- You will need tinder (dry leaves, dryer lint, newspaper), kindling (small sticks or branches), firewood, a match or lighter for starting, and water for extinguishing. You can purchase firewood from a woodcutter or at most gas stations.
- Do not use treated wood and do not burn plastic, metal, or trash as this can release toxins.
- Depending on how much fuel you bring, a small fire can last from 1-3 hours. Be sure to check the hours of the location you are at if you are not camping overnight, and give yourself enough time to get the fire started and extinguished. Avoid high winds, as this can be both difficult and dangerous.
- Build a structure starting with tinder, then kindling, then firewood. This could look like a tent or mini log cabin. Ellen demonstrates in the video below. Light the tinder on fire and fan it to get the flames growing.
- If your fire is struggling to get going, it may be because you need hotter coals. Try adding more kindling to expedite the process! Building fires is an important balance of air flow and “fuel,” or firewood, so do your best to keep your fire half air and half fuel. Make sure your fuel is completely dry– that will help a lot.
- Once the fire is going, make sure to keep an eye on the size and keep flammable items at a safe distance.
- Once you have burned through your firewood, sprinkle water on it in small amounts, and wait until any remaining wood or coals are cool to the touch before you leave.
Public fire pits and fireplaces in Winnebago County
|Location||Shelter house with fireplace||Grills||Campgrounds with fire pits (must make a reservation)|
|Atwood Park||C.C.C. Shelter|
|Hononegah||Bird Grove Shelter||X||X|
|Kishwaukee River||Fort Vincennes Shelter||X|
|Pecatonica Wetlands||Arrowhead Shelter||X|
|Rock Cut State Park||X||X*|
|Sugar River||River View Shelter||X||X|
*From November to April, the Rock Cut Plum Grove Campground is open only for overnight camping. Visitors complete a self-permit form at the campgrounds. The cost is $20/night and you can pay with cash or card. You must enter and leave the park during open hours, which are 8am-5pm in the winter. For more information, call 815-885-3311.