By Jamie Lynn Smith
Camping is as much of an all-American pastime as apple pie, baseball and, well, owning a family dog. So it’s only natural that you would want to bring your furry four-footer on family camping trips this summer. After all, hitting up the great outdoors is always better if you can bring Fido along to sniff, explore and leave pee-mails on every possible inch of the wondrous wild.
Not every campsite is dog-friendly, however. So we did some handy research for you to let you know where the best of the best in pooch-permitted campsites are. But first, a few things to remember about heading out with your dog tagging along:
1. Always keep the dog on at least a 6-foot leash. Most campgrounds, whether private or public, require this.
2. Remember also that many campsites won’t permit your dog to sleep outdoors; they’ll require that he be crated or that the dog sleeps with you in a tent.
3. Mind your manners … always pick up the poop. Not doing so is just not cool, folks. Even though you're outside, there will undoubtedly be someone passing through the area where you now are, so be polite and treat it like your own property.
4. Try to do some advance research on the area you’re going to so you can learn about hazardous plant life in the surrounding area, including poisonous plants and those that can physically hurt your dog, like cactus and poison ivy.
5. Ensure that you regularly check your pet for ticks, thorns in his feet, dehydration, and fox tails in the pads. Give your dog fresh drinking water multiple times a day and don't allow him to take water in from questionable sources found in the wilderness.
Now that you have some tips, without further ado, here is a list of the top ten best dog-friendly campsites around the U.S.
Dogs on a leash are allowed in the developed campgrounds and day use areas throughout the majestic and scenic park, which is in Big Sur, one of northern California’s most beloved gems. Some of the campsites are along the beautiful Big Sur River, and throughout the rest of the beautiful park you’ll find redwoods, conifers, oaks, sycamores, cottonwoods, maples, alders and willows, plus tons of open meadows for Fido to sniff!
Dogs on a leash no longer than 6 feet are allowed in areas including picnic areas and campgrounds in the amazing Rocky Mountain National Park, which is in the heart of colorful Colorado. Rocky Mountain National Park is huge – over 400 square miles – and will show you amazing mountain vistas, dramatic water formations, and otherwise spectacular mountain environments. Here you and your pooch will enjoy campgrounds that allow you to see subalpine and alpine forests, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and more!
Dogs on a leash no longer than 6 feet are allowed in roadside campgrounds and picnic areas, on the maintained grounds surrounding public facilities and residential areas, and aboard boats in the 1.5 million-acre Everglades National Park in Florida. Here you can witness stunning flora and fauna, swim, and see picturesque views of one of the most famous wilderness areas in the country. Perhaps the most famous camping area here that you can enjoy with your pooch is Long Pine Key.
Dogs on a leash no longer than 6 feet are allowed in all Acadia National Park locations except Sand Beach, Echo Lake Beach, Isle au Haut campground, the ladder trails and in lakes that are public drinking water supplies. Blackwoods and Seawall Campgrounds are two of the most popular areas of this magnificent Maine park that allow dogs. You and Fido will find much to see and do here, as the park is home to many plants and animals, as well as the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast.
Burrowed in the woods between Boston & Cape Cod, Normandy Farms is a luxurious Massachusetts camping destination where you and your four-legger can enjoy the seasons of New England. Dogs are always welcome whether you’re in a tent, an RV or a cabin. You’ll love the beauty and serenity that surround you here, and the kids will love the fact that there are heated pools, nature trails and sports fields galore!
Assateague State Park is Maryland's only oceanfront park. It is located on Assateague Island, a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and Sinepuxent Bay on the west.
Dogs are allowed in the following campsites: Loop J, Loop I sites 37-51 and Loop H sites 1-13, as well as on the beach from the H Loop crossover to the south. You and Fido can enjoy many activities while camping at this beautiful Maryland jewel. There are two miles of ocean beaches for swimming, beachcombing, sunbathing, surfing and fishing. Plus, the bayside offers visitors a chance to explore secluded coves by canoe or kayak. Finally, the marsh areas have a variety of wildlife to see, including deer, waterfowl, and feral horses.
Dogs on a leash no longer than 6 feet are allowed in developed areas of Glacier National Park, in front country campgrounds and picnic areas, along roads, in parking areas, and in boats on lakes where motorized watercraft are permitted at this stunning Montana camping spot. Filled with things to see and do, you can your pooch can experience Glacier's pristine forests, alpine meadows, rugged mountains, and spectacular lakes. Plus you can enjoy over 700 miles of trails.
Dogs on a leash no longer than 6 feet are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas, parking lots, on certain trails and on ocean beaches at this Washington state's spectacular Olympic National Park. A day's exploration in this wonderful Washington park can take you from breathtaking mountain vistas to ancient forests to meadows of wildflowers to colorful ocean tidepools, all in the same day.
There are more than 200 campsites in Virginia’s First Landing State Park and dogs are allowed in for a small fee – just $5 per night. First Landing State Park is located on Cape Henry in North Virginia Beach. This park, which is over 2,500 acres, offers a wide range of activities for visitors. You can go swimming, hiking, biking, boating, fishing, or enjoy a picnic here. By planning an overnight camping stay with your pooch, you can escape the fast pace of more heavily developed areas of Virginia Beach yet still remain close to all that the local area has to offer.
Dogs on a leash no longer than 6 feet are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas, and along roads in Smoky Mountains National Park. Dogs are also allowed on two of the walking paths — the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. At this amazing park in Tennessee, which happens to be the most visited national park in the U.S., you can see ridge upon ridge of forest, world-renowned plant and animal life, ancient mountains, and remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture.