Where to Camp with your Dog- With Tips

Most of my vacations are spent camping with my wife and our dogs. Hiking and camping alone with the dogs in wilderness areas rank top on my list of my favorite activities. If you are new to camping with your dog or just curious where you can go camping with your dog, this article will help you plan your next camping trip.

Camping With Dogs in National Parks

Our national park system is no doubt one of the most beautiful compilations of land areas in the United States and visiting them with your dog can be a joyful experience.

Dogs are allowed in the National Parks; however they do have strict rules on where they are permitted. As a general rule, dogs are allowed in campgrounds, parking areas, and picnic areas as long as they are restrained by a 6-8ft leash.

Dogs are not permitted on hiking trails, but so what. You can still have plenty of fun driving through the park taking in the scenery and spending quality time with your dog in the campgrounds. The campgrounds in national parks provide an abundance of amenities including showers, flush toilets, on site restaurants and general stores.

Dog Training Preparation for National Parks:

  • Your dog is going to be spending short periods of time in the car while you get out and take pictures, go to the bathroom, and visit any stores. If your dog has the tendency to whine and bark when you leave them inside a vehicle, you want to start training before your trip.
  • Practice putting your dog inside the car while it is parked in your driveway for short periods of time while you walk inside the home. Start taking your dog on your errands so they become accustomed to you leaving them inside the car for very short periods of time.
  • Train a solid Wait command when you open your vehicle’s door. The last thing you want is a loose dog in a national park with all of the abundant wildlife.

Camping With Dogs in State Parks

State Parks are everywhere throughout the states and I have never visited a state park that did not allow dogs. State parks provide excellent opportunities to explore with your dog. Many state parks will have hiking trails throughout the park and usually allow dogs on all of the trails. Check with the park ranger or campground host to find out where you can take your dog. Most state parks have nice campgrounds and many offer pet friendly cabins if you prefer an alternative to sleeping in a tent.

Dog Training Prepration for State Parks

  • Leash Walking- Practice training your dog to walk on the leash without pulling so hiking with your dog will be more enjoyable. 
  • Tethering- Start tethering your dog at home and in the yard while you supervise them so they become accustomed to being tethered. Teaching your dog to restrained will be useful when you want to tie the dog to a tree or picnic table while you relax by the campfire.

Camping With Dogs in National Forests

National Forest lands provide opportunities to get away from the crowds if you are looking for a more secluded experience. The dog rules are also more relaxed in national forest compared to national and state parks.  I prefer to have my dogs off leash when possible and national forest usually provide this option in certain areas and on some hiking trails.

The campgrounds are more primitive than national and state parks. Pit toilets are more common than flush toilets and showers are rare. In my opinion, the relaxed dog rules make national forest areas one of the more attractive spots, especially if hiking with your dog is a top priority during your camping trip.  Being able to hike with my dogs in the various national forests is probably the main reason I train my dogs to respond off leash. Watching a dog bound through a natural setting can be an amazing experience as a dog owner.

Dog Training Preparation for National Forests
If you plan to have your dog off leash, you will want them to respond to these commands:

  • Come- Use for calling your dog back to you when needed
  • Wait,Stop or Lie Down- Either of these commands can be used to stop your dog if they are ahead of you on the trail.

Here are some Useful Websites that you can use to help plan your trip:

Bring Fido: http://www.bringfido.com/

National Park Service: http://www.nps.gov/index.htm

US Forest Service:http://www.fs.fed.us/visit

State Parks www.stateparks.com


Dog Equipment to take with you

  • Poop Bags- It can be hard to find bags at campgrounds so remember to bring plenty from home.
  • Stainless Steel Food and Water Bowls- These bowls are light, easy to clean, and they will not break if you drop them.
  • Thin Dog Bed- Depending on your dog’s personality, they may enjoy being off the ground.
  • Extra leash and an Extra Collar- You will be glad that you brought an exra leash if it breaks or becomes lost.
  • Rope- I generally bring rope to make a quick tether. If you need to tether the dog, tie the rope around the tree and then hook your leash to it. Some types of trees will emit sap and can make your leashes sticky so I don’t recommend wrapping your leash around trees.
  • Food Container- Place your dog’s food in an air tight container to avoid attracting wildlife to your campsite.
  • Gallon Water Jugs- Bring plenty of water and remember to buy jugs with the screw on tops rather than pop off to avoid spills.

Dog Safety Supplies to Pack

  • Closest Emergency Vet in the Area- When you get to your location, program the closest emergency vet’s phone number in your phone so you have quick access in case of an emergency.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide- A bottle of peroxide should always be in your home if you own a dog. It can used to clean wounds and induce vomiting if necessary.
  • Tweezers- Use tweezers to pull out various plant hitchhikers, thorns, and ticks
  • Aspirin- If your dog gets a mild injury; you can give them Aspirin to ease the pain. Never give dogs Ibuprofen or Tylenol.
  • Imodium or Pepto-Bismol- In case your dog has an unfortunate case of diarrhea
  • Neosporin- Use on cuts or torn pads

Below are some of my favorite Places I have camped and hiked with my dogs. I Highly recommend them if you are looking for ideas.

Yellow Stone National Park- Wyoming








Mount Rainier National Park- Washington State








Redwood National Park- California

Badlands National Park- South Dakota

Big Bend National Park- Texas

Pisgah National Forest- North Carolina

Perdido Key State Park- Florida

Oregon Coast- Lots of good dog friendly beaches and camping here

Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest- Washinton State


Published on July 23, 2017

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