If you're planning a visit to southeastern Utah's national parks, be aware that the Southwest's hot, dry conditions have led National Park Service officials to issue restrictions on open fires in Arches and Canyonlands national parks as well as Natural Bridges and Hovenweep national monuments.
Superintendent Kate Cannon says fires are permitted only in designated fire grates in developed campgrounds and picnic areas. All open fires are prohibited in backcountry campsites. However, petroleum fueled stoves and grills will still be permitted in designated backcountry campsites, as well as developed campgrounds and picnic areas.
Smoking is also prohibited, except within enclosed vehicles, parking lots or developed areas that are cleared of all flammable materials for at least three feet in diameter. Visitors are reminded to exercise caution and to properly extinguish all lighted smoking materials.
In the river corridors where there are no designated campsites, petroleum-fueled stoves are probably the safest method for cooking, however charcoal fires will be allowed if completely contained within a metal fire pan.
Superintendent Cannon says that "the fire season has arrived extremely early to Utah this year and firefighting resources are likely to be stretched to the limit. In cooperation with local, state and other federal agencies, we must take these precautions to ensure the safety of park visitors and resources."
These fire restrictions took effect June 14 and will remain in effect until further notice.