Alcohol stoves have long been a popular item among lightweight backpackers and long distance hikers.
But, as I’ve mentioned before, for various reasons I have limited my own personal use of alcohol stoves over the years. A combination mainly due to open flame bans and wanting to make things simpler.
However, I heard back from a person making inquiries about trips in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Apparently the gentleman was told that alcohol stoves were banned in backcountry sites in the national park. HE WAS SPECIFICALLY TOLD A STOVE NEEDS AN ON-OFF SWITCH over the phone (I suspect they meant valve…)
Person: “I am going to RMNP, and they don’t allow alcohol stoves with no on/off valve, is there any good alternative?“
Me: Whuh?!?! News to me..did a ranger tell you this?
Person: “Hi Paul, Yes I did call the park office yesterday, and they told me that, anything not having an on-off switch is not allowed.“
I was a bit surprised. I’ve heard of stoves of this type banned during general open flames bans, but that is the first I’ve heard of it in Rocky Mountain National Park specifically. Especially with this wet spring we’ve been having.
Not so much doubting the person, but wanting to see this new development in writing, I sent an inquiry to RMNP.
I heard back. Yes indeed. Solid fuel stoves (Esbit) and alcohol stoves are not permitted in bakcountry areas due to not having an on/off valve. The officials used “switch”, but I suspect valve was meant.
RMNP does not allow campfires except in campgrounds and a very limited amount of backcountry sites..so maybe I should not be surprised.
Here’s the email exchange if anyone is curious. To help prevent spam harvesting, I’ve changed the direct email addresses to dashes. I should note this ban is for RMNP only. No other NPS were inquired about.
ROMO Information, NPS (sent by —–@partner.nps.gov)
10:30 AM (3 hours ago)
The use of disposable or portable charcoal grills, wood fuel camp stoves, petroleum fuel/gas stoves, propane turkey cookers and gas grills are allowed for food preparation in all campgrounds. Used charcoal and ash must be completely extinguished and disposed of in a trash receptacle. In back country sites, fuel camp stoves, petroleum fuel/gas stoves are permitted. There are a few back country sites that do have fire rings where you may have wood fires and even charcoal fires if you wish to carry in charcoal. Thank you for your interest in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Rocky Mountain National Park
On Tue, Jun 9, 2015 at 11:21 AM, Paul Mags <—–@pmags.com> wrote:
Thank you for the information.
If possible, could you please clarify this statement: ” In back country sites, fuel camp stoves, petroleum fuel/gas stoves are permitted” ?
Does that mean canister and white gas stoves *only*? (i.e. stoves with UL certification and an on/off valve). Are solid fuel stoves and alcohol stoves specifically banned for backcountry use?
Again, thank you for your time.
ROMO Information, NPS (sent by ——–@partner.nps.gov) 12:36 PM (1 hour ago)
Stoves must have an on/off switch to be used in the Park.
(Emphasis in red mine)
So…what does this mean?
If going to RMNP, a person can go stoveless, take a white gas stove or use a canister.
Obviously wood stoves (such as a Zip stove) would not be allowed where campfires, charcoal grills and such are banned, too.
More importantly, though, I wonder if this banning of certain stoves types in RMNP is a trend? With all the droughts in the American West (Colorado was an anomaly this year..so far), and the potential for wildfires, I wonder if land agencies are becoming gun shy about certain stoves?
Alcohol and Esbit stoves still have their place. In the coming years, I just think their place will be increasingly less in the American West.