Colorado’s average annual temperature is a brisk 43.5°F, so good heating is essential. If you heat a home using a fireplace or wood stove, the right wood makes all the difference. The wrong wood means adding more every five minutes or dealing with a smoky room.

This guide lists some of the best types of firewood in Colorado for heating and cooking. It attempts to balance performance with regional availability. We snuck in a few options that may not grow in huge numbers locally, but CO firewood companies still sell them.

What is the best firewood to burn in Colorado?

Coloradans needing a hot, long-lasting fire should select a hardwood like oak, pinyon, maple, hickory, cottonwood, or mesquite. Choose a softwood like juniper, pine, fir, or spruce for easy fire starting. These trees grow abundantly in much of Colorado; their wood is excellent for tinder and kindling.

1. Oak

Oak is one of the best types of wood for keeping the house warm. It gives off plenty of heat and has excellent coals. Keeping the fire burning won’t require you to add more wood constantly.

Gambel oak is native to Colorado, but the Bur oak thrives on river-bottom land and can grow to massive heights.

Learn more about oak firewood here.

2. Pinyon

The pinyon (aka piñon) is an evergreen softwood that performs like a hardwood. It rivals oak for its heat rating and can be seasoned quicker, which is a bonus if you have limited time to dry it out.

Pinyon is commonly found from Utah to Colorado through the Rocky Mountain region. It is a popular choice of wood sold by businesses in the state.

Check out our guide to pinyon here.    

3. Maple

The red maple and silver maple both grow well in some areas of Colorado. They are great in the fire, burning clean with excellent coaling. It will burn long and slow, giving off a mild, pleasant aroma.

These species have a relatively low BTU rating, which measures the energy required to heat one pound of water. That means you may want to keep maple for the shoulder seasons and use another option, like oak, for the depths of winter.

You can read our full review of maple here.

4. Hickory

Some wood options are much better if you enjoy grilling, fire pits, smoking, or roasting. Hickory is an exceptional wood for cooking, adding a sweet, smoky flavor to food.

But hickory isn’t just for foodies. The bitternut and shagbark varieties produce a lot of heat, ideal for even the coldest months.

Learn more about hickory firewood in this article.

5. Cottonwood

Cottonwoods are Colorado’s largest broadleaf trees in the state. They thrive in the eastern plains, mountain valleys, and along riparian areas.

Cottonwood is a fast-growing tree that is great for burning in fall and spring. It may not have the required heat for freezing nights, but it’s suitable for taking the chill off the air or mixed with other wood like oak.

Learn more about cottonwood firewood.

6. Mesquite

At low elevations of CO, mesquite trees grow well and offer a good source of firewood. It gives off a lot of heat and a sweet, pungent fragrance which is good for adding mouth-watering flavor to food.

Use caution when burning this firewood in a modern fireplace. Unlike the old rock or firebrick versions from last century, newer models may not tolerate heat extremes. It’s a good option for burning outside where the heat can’t cause damage. 

Our complete mesquite firewood guide is worth a read.

Home chefs who love cooking with flame should also consider fruit trees like apple, peach, or cherry.

Firewood burning to heat pots of food.
Mesquite adds a lot of flavor, so use it in moderation.

7. Juniper

Juniper is messy wood, but it can be used as a great way to get fires started. The wood is extremely easy to light. There are many species, but you’ll want a larger type like the Western or Rocky Mountain juniper.

Learn everything there is to know about juniper firewood here.

8. Elm

Elm makes valuable firewood that will keep Coloradoan homes warm and cozy in winter. Although this wood doesn’t provide the heat output that hickory and oak do, it has good coaling properties and burns clean.

The American and Siberian elms grow well in Colorado and make good firewood if they’re available where you live.

We reveal everything there is to know about elm here.

9. Hackberry

The hackberry tree is a deciduous that is native to Colorado. It is a grainy hardwood with similar heat output to elm.

This wood gives off very few sparks and minimal smoke as it burns. It’s ideal for open fireplaces as you won’t get smoked out.

Hackberry is easy to split by hand, so if you buy a cord or more, it shouldn’t be difficult to chop and stack for the winter.  

Find out more about hackberry firewood here.

10. Sycamore

The sycamore may not be a native, but it has established itself in the western and southeastern parts of the state. Its twisted fibers can make it challenging to split, so if you can buy it already done for you, you may save yourself a headache.

Sycamore is another useful wood for shoulder season heating. It’s best combined with other better varieties like oak.

Our sycamore firewood guide provides a lot more information.

11. Ash

Like much of the United States, the ash population throughout Colorado has taken a beating from the emerald ash borer. That means you may have one on your property that needs felling.

Ash is decent firewood that splits easily and gives off very little creosote as it burns. White ash provides better heat efficiency than green.

This deep dive into ash wood provides more details.

12. Pine

Pine trees are widespread in Colorado, with the lodgepole species making up roughly 60% of all tree cover in the state. Source. The ponderosa, bristlecone, and limber pine trees are also abundant.

Pine is a softwood, so it won’t win any records for burning through the night. It burns fast, and a high resin content results in high levels of creosote deposit inside the chimney. 

However, pine is excellent for getting fires started. It is easy to light, affordable, and gives off a pleasant smell as it burns. Use it with other hardwoods or toss it on the campfire if it’s easy to source.   

Read our full review of pine.

A campfire burning with forest in the background
Pine gives off a lovely fragrance as it burns.

Other prevalent Colorado softwoods with comparable firewood properties include red cedar and Douglas fir. Of course, we wouldn’t be doing our job right if we didn’t give honorable mention to the blue spruce, Colorado’s state tree.

Interesting reading:

A vertical collage of Colorado forest, a fireplace, and a wood stack

Where can I buy firewood in Colorado?

Residents living in CO have plenty of choices when it comes to finding firewood suppliers. Here are a few options to get you started.

DenverVariety Firewood303 730 8380
Colorado SpringsUrban Firewood Company719 445 9068
AuroraBest Firewood and Mulch630 851 3062
Fort CollinsKoi Lagoon970 484 9162
LakewoodArbor Pro Tree Experts303 935 0005

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