Updated September 11, 2023
Estes Park is a wildland urban interface where the risk of wildfire is elevated year-round. For this reason, minimum fire restrictions always apply:
For more information visit: https://www.estesvalleyfire.org/fire-restrictions-bans.
*Short term rentals include all vacation rentals.
Rocky Mountain National Park always has Stage 1 fire restrictions in place, where campfires are prohibited in the park, except within designated campfire rings in picnic areas and front-country campgrounds. Fireworks are always prohibited within the park. Park visitors are urged to use caution and vigilance regarding the use of fire in authorized locations. Find complete information here: https://www.nps.gov/romo/learn/fire-information-and-regulations.htm.
While there are no temporary fire restrictions at this time, everyone plays a role in fire prevention. Learn more about campfire safety. Following 2020's wildfires, find out which areas of the forest are open here.
Find more resources from the Estes Valley Fire Protection District here: https://www.estesvalleyfire.org/guest-resources.
Text EPAlerts to 888777 to receive emergency alerts for a two-week time period.
Answers to common questions about wildfire from our partners at Estes Valley Fire Protection District. Visit their website for more detailed fire safety and prevention information.
Having a campfire is a big part of my mountain vacation. Why can’t I have one, or why is it not a good idea?
Having a campfire is dependent on fire restrictions on lands in and around Estes Park. Restrictions exist either as a matter of policy such as in the case of Rocky Mountain National Park, which is always in a Stage 1 fire ban at a minimum, or based on the wildfire risk of the area. Wildfire risk is determined by several environmental factors, including the moisture content of potential wildfire fuels, wind speeds, temperature, and the availability of firefighting resources contrasted with the degree of fire risk.
We empathize with the desire to have a campfire during your mountain vacation. However, in certain conditions, wildfires start easily and spread quickly. If an innocent campfire ignites the land surrounding it, it puts the forest and community of Estes Park at extreme risk.
What is a wildland urban interface?
The wildland urban interface is the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development. It is the line, area or zone where structures and other human development meet or intermingle with undeveloped wildland or vegetative fuels.
What does the phrase “wildfire mitigation” mean?
Wildfire mitigation starts with prevention. Estes Valley Fire Protection District has a dedicated Fire Prevention Division that works with agency partners from the U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain National Park, watershed representatives, local forestry organizations, HOA groups, and Estes Park residents to reduce the risk of wildfire ignition year-around. Visitors to the Estes Valley are a vital part of the prevention effort, and will be asked to follow fire prevention protocols in order to preserve and protect this beautiful community and its inhabitants.
How does a firefighter differ from a wildland firefighter?
Common use of the word firefighter often refers to a structural firefighter, whose job revolves around protecting life and property in fires that are in structures such as homes, buildings and vehicles. A wildland firefighter fights fires that occur on open land, in the wilderness, and in the Wildland Urban Interface, or “WUI”, where homes are intermingled in heavily forested areas. Firefighting tactics, protective equipment and strategies vary widely between these two occupations.
What is meant by “fire is a natural process?”
Fire is an essential part of most wildland ecosystems. In climates around the world including Colorado, plant species have adapted to a point that they would not exist without the presence of fire. Wildland fires spawn a period of rebirth and vigor in post-fire environments by removing dead materials and by releasing nutrients back to the environment that are locked up in mature plants and organic litter.
We’ve been taught that cutting down trees is bad and that good fire management means extinguishing fires in wildland areas. Why is this not always the case?
Wildfire is a natural and healthy process for forests and the vegetation that inhabits them. Over-suppression of wildfires causes the density of conifer trees and other fuels to increase, and when density increases the overall health of the trees decreases as they compete for water and sunlight. This increase in density and competition leads to increased wildfire risk and contributes to the mega fires we are seeing today. The modern forest service takes a balanced approach between fire prevention, fighting fires where they threaten populated communities and infrastructure, and allowing the natural ecological process of fire to occur when appropriate.
A wet spring will mitigate risks of wildfire in the summer and fall, right?
No, unfortunately not. A wet spring may be negated by a dry summer and fall. Further, the vegetation that grows during a wet spring will dry out if rain does not fall in the summer and fall and could contribute to increased wildfire fuel loading both in the forest, and in the populated Wildland Urban Interface.
Some common terms I hear around conversations about wildfire are listed below. What do they mean?
Find more wildfire terminology definitions here.