8 Essential Tips for Camping with Your Dog

Bring your dogs on your next camping trip—many areas of our public lands welcome canine companions. All it takes is a little planning.
Kenny PerryAugust 2, 201782/100
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Virginia State Parks, for example, prohibit dogs on public beaches. In the California State Parks System, specific beaches allow dogs but others do not, citing concerns for sanitation and wildlife. In the system’s Monterey District, beaches are largely dog free to protect the threatened Western snowy plover.

Nearly every year, I gather with friends for a campout at Steens Mountain, a remote gem in Oregon’s high desert roughly 350 miles southeast of Portland. We nestle our tents in just-turning-yellow aspens next to a rare desert lake, hiking to vast, U-shaped glacier gorges by day and laughing around the fire by night.

The only ones who are having more fun than us? Our dogs. When my fluffy golden retriever-samoyed mix, Isis, was still with us, she would trot at the back of the dog pack, sparring over logs and weaving through the waist-high sagebrush. My favorite pup to watch, though, has always been my friend’s yellow lab Chloe, who eschews the group every chance she gets to pursue her bliss—swimming endless circles in the lake.

Camping with dogs enhances the adventure. Their joy continually reminds us to drink in the moment. But it’s a fact of being on public lands: Camping with dogs involves different rules, and they can vary depending on the destination.

In general, developed campgrounds on public lands welcome dogs, allowing several dogs per site. Regulations for camping in the backcountry or at dispersed campsites, on the other hand, will be different based on where you’re at and which agency manages that land. Also, some trails are more dog friendly than others, making your daytime plans to hike, bike or explore critical to your choices for where to spend the night.

With a little research and planning, you can ensure a better experience for you, your dog and your fellow campers.

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