Monday, December 4, 2023


Around the Campfire: A debate on campfires vs. open windows

There’s been an ongoing discussion around the campfire for the past week. The “campfire vs. open windows feud” has potential to ruin two RVers’ camping experience. An RVer I’ll call “Campfires” likes to have a fire every evening. There’s another RV family that likes to keep their RV windows open. I’ll call them “Windows.”

The problem

These two RVers are parked back-to-back in our campground. Windows’ RV sits downwind from Campfires’ RV. And there’s the problem. You see, smoke from the nightly “s’mores-fest” drifts directly into Windows’ windows. (Following so far?) Campfires doesn’t want to give up his nightly ritual. It’s their right to have a fire. Windows doesn’t want to run the air conditioner when the outside air is nice and cool. But they can’t stand the smoke coming into their RV. They believe that Campfires should be more considerate.

I understand both points of view

I like s’mores as much as the next guy (or gal). Actually, I like them so much that I wrote a whole article on s’mores hacks. Sitting around a campfire just listening to the wood sap snap is a true joy. What’s better than watching the fire burst into sparks that twinkle in the nighttime sky? Or scootching close to the cheery warmth? It’s quintessential camping. A Norman Rockwell painting.

On the other hand, I don’t appreciate damp wood that continually smokes as it burns. Some folks have health issues when breathing smoke, as well. I can understand Windows’ point. It’s frustrating to close up the RV’s windows just as the night air cools. I appreciate the angst of listening to the groaning of an air conditioner. All. Night. Long.

So what to do?

Both parties are adults and should be able to work something out. But so far, Windows continues to smolder, and Campfires has completely closed down communication about the problem.

Any suggestions? Where do you stand on the campfire vs. open window feud? Share your ideas in the comments below, please.


Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh
Gail Marsh is an avid RVer and occasional work camper. Retired from 30+ years in the field of education as an author and educator, she now enjoys sharing tips and tricks that make RVing easier and more enjoyable.



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Harry C (@guest_244801)
4 months ago

This is a tough one ,,, but Windows should stay home!!! As you said, a campfire in the evening is an amenity that the majority of people who camp LOVE!

Rusty (@guest_244589)
4 months ago

Add generator operating from 0800-2200 each and every day for a solid week

Neal Davis (@guest_244572)
4 months ago

Ideally, we could switch places with Windows. Why? Because Newmar decided that EVERYONE who bought a New Aire model NEVER wanted to open the windows of the RV. So, essentially none of our windows open; problem solved. 😉 Seriously, it seems as though Campfire can have a fire if/when they want. However, it would be nice if they doused the fire at the onset of quiet hours at the campground. Thereby Windows could sleep with open windows sans smoke. Additionally, Windows could employ a strong portable fan to blow the offending smoke past their windows during the day, which still allows Campfire to have a campfire. A potential complication is who/what receives the diverted smoke.

G Smith (@guest_244189)
4 months ago

I can’t imagine toasting marshmallows or making ‘s’mores over a propane flame. The coloration is not from toasting from the heat of the coals but instead from the soot of an over rich gas flame.

G Smith (@guest_244188)
4 months ago

Windows should stick to trailer parks, RV resorts, and other full hookup, modern amenities type RV parking areas. We, in the Campfire group should stay at actual campgrounds, a term that has been appropriated by the former group.

Where we camp, fires are almost mandatory.

When we need or desire to use “civilized facilities” to dump & refill or enjoy a pool or air conditioning we stay at a Windows place for a day or two. Having a fire in a little concrete box in our five foot wide lawn patch is unappealing to us.

Last edited 4 months ago by G Smith
Andrew (@guest_244031)
4 months ago

Go camp in the boondocks!! Problem solved

Tony K (@guest_244030)
4 months ago

I think “windows “ should research more into what they want/like in a RV Park/Camp sites more than expecting “Campfire” to not have a Campfire when it’s allowed.

UPRIG (@guest_244025)
4 months ago

Windows is wrong morally, ethically and legally.

Vanessa (@guest_244023)
4 months ago

Central firepits in tight campgrounds…like you say in your articles where people gather around and talk. I attended the RVillage 2.0 rally and the fire totems were great! We couldn’t roast marshmallows around them but they were great for gathering.
I have been to places where the RVs were so close together. If I put out my awning I touched the RV next to me or I was looking in the window of the unit beside me from my window/door AND there were campfire rings at each site! Too close and too dangerous. Individual rings at places where sites are far apart are ok like at many state/national campsites.

Susan (@guest_244010)
4 months ago

I guess it depends on how close you are to your neighbor. If I had a campfire and saw smoke going into someone’s RV I would put it out. That’s just being considerate. I’ve had that happen to us before. I came back to my camper that had all the windows open and the neighbor had a big roaring smokey fire going 10 feet from our camper. The smoke was going directly into my windows. It stunk up my whole camper and stunk up our bedding and our clothes so bad that we had to drive and find a laundromat. If you are in a state campground where the sites are far apart and the smoke it not filling up your neighbor’s camper, but you can only smell it a little, then I think that is ok. Campfires are a big part of camping for some people, but you also need to be reasonable about how you affect others. We have a propane fire pit because I’m one of those people who smoke really bothers. My eyes water and I start coughing. You’ll never have to worry about us filling your camper with our smoke.

Jerry Lee Liszak (@guest_244004)
4 months ago

Camping is for the family to sit around a campfire in the evening for the kids to experience the thrill of it. I think the campfire should hold presedence as long as the fire is put out at 10 pm.

Dave Jeffries (@guest_244001)
4 months ago

Therein is the difference between an RV Park, and a Campground.

In an RV Park (even if out in the woods) there are usually no campfire rings.

In a CAMPground, people are “camping”. There of course will be CAMPfires as some people cook their meals on the campfire. There will also be tenters and they usually also use a campfire for cooking and for warming.

In my (rather humble) opinion one needs to decide whether they want to go,
– to an RV Park, or to a Campground and choose accordingly.

Sven Yohnson (@guest_243995)
4 months ago

Campfire smoke at campgrounds is a given, and as you can’t control the direction of the wind you have to either learn to tolerate it, or stay home. I have personally converted to an LP gas firepit and enjoy it’s benefits, of convenience, safety, and lower operating cost. Not smoking us, and our neighbors out is a bonus. I purchased a unit with built-in blue tooth speakers (for listening to music or “crackling fire” audio clips). I also purchased an optional grill top which can also be used to smoke wood chips, if you want the campfire aroma. I have plumbed a shut-off valve with a quick-connect to the RV LP system, which has eliminated the need to carry a separate LP tank. We use the firepit on our front porch when we’re not camping. WIN-WIN-WIN!

Irv (@guest_243988)
4 months ago

Campfires highlight one of the difference between RVers and Campers. One solution is to have a group campfire operated by the park. At least ban campfires at the site when the RVs are within a few feet of each other.

I’ve been at National Parks that were selling recently cut firewood and the smoke over the entire campground was like light fog.

Terry (@guest_243983)
4 months ago

Freedom or entitlement? When a person makes a reservation, check to see if there are campfires allowed. If smoke bothers you, move on and find a location that meets your needs. I don’t see forcing ones will on another when choosing how to live.

Jim Johnson (@guest_243980)
4 months ago

The campground can help by insisting that only their wood may be used in designated fire rings – and making sure the wood is fully seasoned (dry). This will reduce smoke, but honestly some people simply don’t know how to build a fire with adequate airflow to reduce smoldering, nor extinguish a fire when they are done with it.

I do get both sides of the issue. I love a good fire – when I am upwind. My eyes are easily irritated by smoke particles (the recent wildfire air quality reduction has been brutal). And I know just because the wind is from a certain direction when I light the fire doesn’t mean it will stay coming from that direction. People can move their seats around a fire, RVs cannot.

I try to select sites upwind from other sites based on prevailing winds, but when I can’t and the smoke gets to be too much, the windows are closed and the A/C (if necessary when a simple fan won’t cut it) is turned on. Don’t like the noise? Learn how to make a better fire and extinguish it.

Michael (@guest_243979)
4 months ago

Was at a campground recently in Michigan and everything was fine Mon thru Thur, then Friday hit and the park filled up with fire lovers. It was like we were in the middle of a forest fire. Everyone had a fire going. Not very enjoyable.

Steve Wilson (@guest_243976)
4 months ago

Compromise . Work it out in a neighborly fashion. Alternating nights?🤷🏼‍♂️

Vince S (@guest_243969)
4 months ago

Coaches can get uncomfortably warm while the A/C is off due to quiet time so opening windows is really the only thing you can do. In most cases, it’s less about the fresh air and more about getting cool air to flow into the coach.

I can understand Window’s frustration in chasing which windows to close as the breeze shifts to avoid disabling the smoke alarm.

I can also understand Campfire’s right to have an *attended* campfire. As long as Campfire isn’t leaving the fire to soot, smoke and smolder all night, they have every right to their enjoyment.

With campgrounds packed in like sardines, there’s no escaping the smoke not just from your neighbor but the other 20 campfires that can make your home smell like a burn pit (assuming you can sleep in smoke).

The choices are few:

Find a different spot
Risk confrontation and extinguish unattended fires
Run your generator A/C until the smoke clears and see who gets kicked out first

Cookie P (@guest_243964)
4 months ago

Would you go to a music festival and complain that the music is too loud?
I understand that some people don’t like campfire smoke, but it is part of the campground experience. I would suggest keeping the windows on the campfire side closed, keep the windows on the other side open and run the fans to pull the fresh, smokeless air in.

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