We demonstrate a new approach to understanding the role of fuelwood in the rural household economy by applying insights from travel cost modeling to author-compiled household survey data and meso-scale environmental statistics from Ruteng Park in Flores, Indonesia. We characterize Manggarai farming households' fuelwood collection trips as inputs into household production of the utility yielding service of cooking and heating. The number of trips taken by households depends on the shadow price of fuelwood collection or the travel cost, which is endogenous. Econometric analyses using truncated negative binomial regression models and correcting for endogeneity show that the Manggarai are ‘economically rational’ about fuelwood collection and access to the forests for fuelwood makes substantial contributions to household welfare. Increasing cost of forest access, wealth, use of alternative fuels, ownership of kerosene stoves, trees on farm, park staff activity, primary schools and roads, and overall development could all reduce dependence on collecting fuelwood from forests.