If you just can’t bear to leave your furry friend behind when you embark on your next camping trip, you may need to select a campground with a few special accommodations. Some campsites may be pet-friendly, while others may not. Besides, there are a few considerations when camping with your pet concerning their safety and yours.
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Most campgrounds do not offer kennels for pets. They may be pet-friendly and allow pets on campsites or offer specific cabin rental accommodations for pet-owners, but in most instances, kennels will not be available on-site.
Some particularly pet-friendly campgrounds provide special amenities for your furry friend. These may include a dog park, pet-friendly trails, an on-site grooming facility, and a pet playground complete with an obstacle course.
How to Prepare Your Pet
Before you take off for your trip, you need to satisfy a few items on the pet camping checklist. The first is whether or not taking your pet along is a good idea. You likely know your pet’s habits and personality better than anyone.
If you think that camping would put your pet or other pets or people in danger, it may be best to leave Fido at home. Additionally, if your pet does not handle new situations well and is susceptible to stress and anxiety, a trip may not be such a good idea.
If you have determined that your pet will do just fine with an excursion into the great outdoors, then you must make sure they are prepared to go. Your pet should be up to date on all of their vaccinations and other pest protection, including heartworm, tick, and flea prevention.
Because your animal may be exposed to wild animals wherever you are camping, it is a good idea to double-check with your vet regarding your intended location and any concerns or necessary vaccines.
At most campsites, your pet will be required to be leashed. In some cases, pets are not allowed on trails or hiking paths. There should be signs to indicate whether animals are permitted; alternatively, you could check with the forest rangers or campground personnel.
Even though your pet will be on a leash most of the time, you should still equip them with a collar and proper identification tags. In the chance that they do escape, you want them to be easily identified so that they may be returned. Registering your dog and having them microchipped by your vet is another method that will increase the chance of your runaway pet being returned to you.
What to Bring
In order to keep your pet comfortable, you will need to bring along a couple of items. Food and water are the most obvious essentials. You will also want to bring sturdy and lightweight bowls as well as a sealable and possibly scent proof container for your pet’s food.
Besides your pet’s collar and tags, you should also bring a leash, tether (or a longer leash), and a stake. Check with your specific campground regarding the maximum length allowed for leashes. Additionally, tying your pet up to a tree may be prohibited or not possible, so bring a ground stake.
Additional items to pack include toys, treats, towels, a first-aid kit, and disposable poop bags. It is important to pick up after your pet and properly dispose of any waste. You want to keep your campsite and surrounding nature as clean as possible.
Camping (with pets) Etiquette
Many campers enjoy the soothing sounds of nature, the wind rustling the pines and birds chirping. It is a safe bet that fellow campers will not enjoy a noisy pet. Be sure to do your best to curtail any barking, meowing, or other pet noises; especially at night.
Cleaning up after your pet has as much to do with safety as it has to do with being a responsible pet owner. Be sure to bring disposable poop bags and pick up any messes on your campsite, throughout the campground, or what else you and your pet venture.
Then, dispose of the bags responsibly, do not just leave them on the side of the trail. You will also want to clean up after your pet is done eating. Washing any food and water bowls, picking up any remnants, and sealing away leftover food so as not to attract wild animals.
Containing Your Pet
One way to contain your pet either while out and about or at the tent is with a leash. Many campgrounds and National Parks have restrictions pertaining to the maximum length of the leash. They also may not approve of attaching your leash to a tree so be sure to bring a ground stake along.
If tree attachment is permitted, you can create a cable run for your pet, giving them a little more freedom and mobility. Cable run kits can be found in pet stores or online. Alternatively, you can affix a rope snugly between two trees high enough off of the ground so that the dog will not get tangled in it but also low enough so the leash will not be too taught.
Then, attach your standard leash to the rope with a carabiner on one end and attach the other end to the collar of your pet. Double-check that the leash is not pulling too tightly on your pet’s neck and that the rope is secure.
Sometimes, it might be helpful to bring a travel crate along. If your pet wants a safe and enclosed space to get away, a crate can be reassuring. Crates can also help to keep a dog contained and minimize their movement in the case of any health considerations or emergencies.
Much like a playpen for infants, pet playpens allow your dog to have more room than a crate but still be safely contained. Pet playpens often have mesh or grated sides, may or may not have a base, and are usually open on top. As long as your pet cannot jump over the sides, they are a safe and fun-for-your-pet way to keep everyone secure.
Leashes are often the most affordable and easiest way to keep track of your pet. However, if you have an anxious pet, experience an emergency, or simply need to keep them contained while you are cooking or away, a crate or pen may be a more secure option.
KOA’s, some of the most well-known campgrounds, are largely pet-friendly. They do have a few rules and regulations, but some even offer specific tent/RV sites and cabins with special arrangements for your pets. KOA’s rules may vary with each location, but most employ the following regulations as found on the KOA website:
- BEFORE YOU GO:
- Call ahead. Check with the campground about its specific pet policies. Some don’t allow pets in Cabins, for example, or may have limited pet units. Others don’t accept particular breeds that insurance providers have identified as having a history of aggression.
- Bring your helper. Service dogs are welcomed at all KOA Kampgrounds. (Leash and aggressive behavior rules apply.)
- WHEN YOU ARRIVE:
- Good behavior is required. Dogs of any breed that are hostile or aggressive will be asked to leave the campground, along with their owners.
- Bring the leash. Dogs must be kept on leashes no longer than 6 feet when outside their owners’ vehicles or rental units. Do not leave a tethered dog unattended.
- Remember manners. Constant barking bothers other campers. If your pet is too vocal, you’ll need to find other accommodations.
- *Some campgrounds may charge for additional pets.
In addition to KOA’s, some excellent privately-run campgrounds truly tailor to guests with pets.
California offers a few campground getaways for you and your pooch or other pet. In Big Sur, you can find Riverside Campground and Cabins. The campground itself is pet-friendly as are many of the surrounding trails and beaches.
Also in California is the Escondido RV Resort, complete with a dog park. The dog park is equipped with a fountain, areas of shade, and is in close proximity to a dog-friendly beach.
On the east coast and in the midwest are a variety of pet-friendly options. These include Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort in Foxboro, Massachusetts outfitted with a dog park, a fountain, a pet grooming area, an agility course, and even onsite kennels.
Evergreen Park RV Resort in Dundee, Ohio also caterers to guests with pets. They have plenty of pet-friendly trails and play areas and even an on-location grooming facility.
Finally, Four Paws Kingdom in Rutherfordton, North Carolina may be the ultimate spot for you and your furry friend. They pride themselves on being the only dog dedicated campground in the United States. And dedicated they are, offering trails, wide-open spaces, pet accommodations, events, rallies, and even training.
For other pet-friendly campgrounds across the country, consider the following campgrounds. The number of pets allowed, the size of the animals allowed, and the existence of a pet fee varies so be sure to call before booking.
Here are some pet friendly campgrounds for each state.
Gulf State Park Campground, Gulf Shores AL
Anchors Away RV Resort, Foley AL
Diamond M Ranch Resort, Kenai AK
Denali Rainbow Village and RV Park, Denali National Park AK
Outdoorsy RV Rental, Flagstaff AZ
Daily Springs Campground, Coconino AZ
Beaver Lake Hide A Way, Rogers AR
Cricket Creek Campground, Omaha AR
Hodgdon Meadow Campground, Yosemite National Park CA
Dockweiler Beach RV Park, Playa del Rey CA
Winding River Resort Village, Grand Lake CO
Frisco Bay Marina, Frisco Bay CO
Hidden Acres Family Campground, Preston CT
Hemlock Hill Camp Resort, Litchfield CT
Indian River Marina, Rehoboth Beach DE
The Resort at Massey’s Landing, Millsboro DE
Caladesi Island State Park Campground, Dunedin FL
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Campground, Key Largo FL
Trackrock Campground and Cabins, Blairsville GA
Lake Winfield Scott Rec Campground, Suches GA
Outdoorsy Kauai, Kauai HI
Lava Hot Springs KOA, Lava Hot Springs ID
Sunny Gulch Campground, Stanley ID
Blanding Landing Campground, Hanover IL
Robin Hood Woods Campground, Shelbyville IL
Louisville North Campground, Clarksville IN
Indian Lakes Campground Wolcottville, IN
Sugar Bottom Campground, Solon IA
Shady Creek Campground, Muscatine IA
Hillsdale State Park, Paola KS
Turtle Creek Cove, Manhattan KS
Cumberland Falls State Park Campground, Corbin KY
Big Bone Lick State Park Campground, Union KY
Pontchartrain Landing, New Orleans LA
Grand Isle State Park Campground, Grand Isle LA
Sagadahoc Bay Campground, Georgetown ME
Wagon Wheel RV Resort and Campground, Old Orchard Beach ME
The Treehouse Camp at Maple Tree Campground, Rohrersville MD
Crow’s Nest Campground, Thurmont MD
Nickerson State Park Campground, Brewster MA
Salisbury Beach State Campground, Salisbury MA
Timber Ridge RV Resort and Recreation, Traverse City MI
Silver Lake Resort and Campground, Mears MI
Lodge of Whispering Pines, Ely MN
Gull Lake Recreation Area Campground, Brainerd MN
Percy Quin Campground, McComb MS
Tishomingo State Park Campground, Tishomingo MS
Treasure Lake RV Resort, Branson MO
Acorn Acres RV Park and Villas, Branson West MO
Madison Arm Resort Campground and Marina, West Yellowstone MT
West Glacier KOA, West Glacier MT
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park Campground, Ashland NE
Platte River State Park Campground, Louisville NE
Valley of Fire State Park, Overton NV
Spring Mountain Ranch State Park, Blue Diamond NV
New Hampshire –
Moose Hillock Campground, Warren NH
Bear Brook State Park Campground, Deerfield NH
New Jersey –
Holly Shores Camping Resort, Cape May NJ
Ocean View Resort Campground, Ocean View NJ
New Mexico –
Elephant Butte Lake RV Resort, Elephant Butte NM
Enchanted Trails Camping Resort, Albuquerque NM
New York –
Letchworth State Park Campground, Castile NY
Hearthstone Point Campground, Lake George NY
North Carolina –
Badin Lake Campground, Troy NC
Hatteras Sands Camping Resort, Hatteras NC
North Dakota –
Beaver Creek Recreation Area Campground, Linton ND
Bismarck KOA, Bismarck ND
Fox’s Den Campground, Put-in-Bay OH
McDermott’s Lakefront Campground, North Benton OH
Beavers Bend Resort Park, Broken Bow OK
Hawthorn Bluff Campground, Oologah OK
Gone Creek Campground, Zigzag OR
Frog Lake Campground, Parkdale OR
Mountain Vista Campground, East Stroudsburg PA
Beacon Hill Campground, Intercourse PA
Rhode Island –
Burlingame State Park Campground, Charlestown RI
Timber Creek RV Resort, Westerly RI
South Carolina –
Ocean Lakes Campground, Myrtle Beach SC
Mount Pleasant/Charleston KOA, Charleston SC
South Dakota –
Big Pine Campground, Custer SD
Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort, Spearfish SD
Adventure Bound Camping Resorts, Gatlinburg TN
Up the Creek Campground, Sevierville TN
Bayou Shores RV Resort, Galveston TX
San Antonio KOA, San Antonio TX
Mirror Lake Campground, Hanna UT
Watchman Campground, Springdale UT
Lake Dunmore Campersville, Salisbury VT
Camping on the Battenkill, Arlington VT
Loft Mountain Campground, Crozet VA
Big Meadows Campground, Banco VA
Deep Lake Resort, Olympia WA
Lake Pleasant RV Resort, Bothell WA
West Virginia –
Gerald Freeman Campground, Sutton WV
Hemlock Haven Cabins, Hico WV
Devils Lake State Park Campground, Baraboo WI
Peninsula State Park Campground, Fish Creek WI
Bedroll and Breakfast Campground, Moran WY
Devils Tower KOA, Devils Tower WY
Campground Rules, Policies, and Fees
Although the campgrounds listed are pet-friendly, many of them have rules and stipulations. In most cases, there will be an additional charge or a pet fee if you wish to bring your furry friend.
Furthermore, campgrounds may limit the number of pets, the size of the pet, and the breed of the pet. Some weight restrictions can be limited to as few as twenty pounds, while others just do not allow “large dog breeds”. Specific breeds may be prohibited as well, typically German Shepherds and Pitbulls.
The rules should be clearly communicated to you when you inquire about bringing a pet and when you arrive. Some campgrounds have certain areas where pets are not allowed. Few campgrounds even have stipulations concerning if your pet can be left alone in the RV or if they must remain with you at all times.
Many National Parks allow you to visit and use the trails with your pet, however, some National Parks prohibit pets or animals. National Park campgrounds may or may not allow guests to bring their pets onto the campground, so you might need to find a nearby private campground.
State Parks tend to allow pets both to visit and to stay on their campgrounds. It is important to note that rules and policies vary by park and campground. Thankfully, most state’s have compiled information concerning pets, parks, and campgrounds on their government website.
National Forests and Bureau of Land Management Lands largely are pet-friendly. As most of the land is undeveloped and rural, there should be plenty of space for you and your furry friend.
A Time for Bonding
Camping with your pet can be an excellent bonding experience. As public places, in general, become increasingly pet-friendly, campgrounds are beginning to provide special accommodations and amenities specific to pet owners. Just be sure to abide by any policies, keep your pet close by, and maintain proper campsite etiquette.