Regeneration of ponderosa pine after fire depends on the patterns of seed availability and the environmental conditions that define safe sites for seedling establishment. A transect approach was applied in 2002 to determine the spatial distribution of regeneration from unburned to burned areas within the landscape impacted by the Jasper Fire of 2000 in the Black Hills of South Dakota (USA). Canopy conditions alone, reflecting seed availability, at the stand level were not correlated with regeneration success. However, canopy conditions in combination with ground conditions explained patterns of regeneration success at the plot level (2 m × 6 m scale), and ground conditions explained these patterns at the quadrat level (0.2 m × 0.2 m scale). Only at the finer level of the quadrat could environmental factors explain seedling survival. Safe sites were characterized, in part, by the presence of scorched needle litter on blackened mineral soil. Areas with high understory cover restricted regeneration in the undisturbed forest and reduced seedling survival in the burned areas. The description of environmental conditions that favor and discourage ponderosa pine regeneration success will improve our understanding of how environmental heterogeneity within burned areas will contribute to the future forested landscape.