Camping with your dog might just be the most fun you can have in the great outdoors with your four-legged friend. Nights by the fire, days tromping around the forest, s’mores and afternoons lounging in the hammock—it might just be the best vacation you’ll ever take together.
But you’ll need to do a bit of research before you hit the trail. Not every campground is pet-friendly and even the ones that are can have some pretty strict rules. In addition, not all trails want your fur-baby disrupting the wildlife. In fact, even parks and campsites that permit dogs often don’t allow them on the trails or the backcountry, which puts a serious damper on your journey. Never fear though, a bit of advance planning yields plenty of places to pitch a tent under the stars together.
We gathered a list of personal favorite camping spots and got together with the greatest Instagram account dedicated to ruffing it with your pups, @CampingWithDogs to poll their Trailblazers, grammers who hike every day with their dogs from all over the country to select some of the very best spots to camp with your pooches. Here were a 10 must-sees.
1. Big Sur: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, California
Majestic redwoods, soaring Pacific vistas and a very dog friendly policy are just the start of the allure of this California camping paradise. The only catch is you’ll have to book these sites at least six months in advance since they fill up so fast. Dogs must remain on a leash in the campground and they aren’t allowed on the official trails, but there is plenty of dog-friendly hiking in the very close Ventana Wilderness and gorgeous Pfeiffer beach is an off-leash paradise.
2. Ruth Lake, Uinta Mountains, Utah
Ruth Lake has been dubbed, by the kinds of folks who ought to know, as one of the best places to take a backpacking trip for beginners. The hike in is less than a mile and dogs are welcome at campsite surrounding the lake. Once you get there it’s all relaxation all the time.
3. Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado
Indian Peaks is home to 50 lakes and 28 trails covering more than 133 miles. All overnight campers must pay a permit fee of $5 and dogs must be on leash at all times. Other than that, feel free to explore this untamed wilderness that rises to elevations just over 13,500 feet.
4. Death Valley National Park, California
This below sea level basin is an alien landscape of extremes. Go for the colorful badlands and rugged canyons, but stay because you can happily camp at all campsites with your pet as long as they remain on a leash. And even though pets are not allowed on trails or in the wilderness they are allowed on plenty of the scenic back country roads.
5. Gunnison: Curecanti National Recreation Area, Colorado
Pets are allowed on all hiking trails here along the three reservoirs along the Gunnison River. Make sure to keep your dog on leash (it’s the law anyway) because this is prairie dog country and if you thought your dog went wild for squirrels in your back yard, you don’t want to see what happens when it spots a prairie dog.
6. Sawtooth National Forest Campgrounds, Idaho
The first time I visited Idaho I said to a friend, “Oh, so this is what heaven must be like.” It was that spectacular. I’ve since returned to explore the various sections of the state in just about every season and a soft spot remains for the Sawtooth National Forest.
All dogs must be on leash while walking on the trails, but other than that the are is incredibly pet-friendly as long as your dog is well-behaved. Enjoy the high granite peaks and deep glacial valley views with your pet or take a dip in one of the chilly alpine lakes. Make sure to bring your camera, because it doesn’t get much more instagrammable than this.
7. Savage Gulf State Natural Area in South Cumberland State Park, Tennessee
Straddling four different counties, this state park offers 25,539 for hiking and backcountry. Sandstone canyons and waterfalls dropping from sheer cliffs, make this one of the most scenic camping and hiking spots in Tennessee.
“After a 9 mile hike in, there’s an awesome old cabin that you can camp at. First come first serve but so worth it if you get an early start,” says @CampingWithDogs founder Ryan Carter.
8. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Fans of the Cheryl Strayed book Wild should add this one to their bucket lists. The author had beautiful things to say about finally reaching this wilderness destination during her arduous hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. While dogs aren’t allowed on most of the trails here they are allowed to sleep in the campgrounds overnight and on paved roads. Dogs are allowed on the Godfrey Glen Trail, the Lady of the Woods Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail. But none of these offer lake views.
If you’re hankering for a view of the lake you can walk your dog up the promenade at Rim Village for a gorgeous vista.
9. Salt River and Bulldog Canyon, Arizona
Located near Mesa, Arizona, Bulldog Canyon is just over 14 miles for a point to point hike and there are plenty of gorgeous spots to camp along the trail.
According to @goose_the_aussie, a Trailblazer for @campingwithdogs, there are few better places to desert camp than right here. “It’s great desert camping and there’s wild horses all over the place.”
10. Strawberry Bay Campground, Utah
Sleep out next to Strawberry Reservoir’s piney rolling hills at an elevation of 7,200 feet. This idyllic spot offers canoeing, horseback riding, sailing and fishing, if you’re feeling active, but really its the perfect place for laying around the tent with a good dog and a good book.