Finding Pet-Friendly Destinations
Jennifer Braga shares her tips for finding pet-friendly locations to camp for your next RV trip.
So, you've decided to go RVing with your dog or cat. Or are you thinking about getting a puppy and worried an RV is not the best place to train them? When you travel with your little furry friend, there's a lot to consider, but exploring the country with your dog has never been easier or more rewarding. Being able to get away and adventure is an experience for everyone, and it is becoming more popular than ever to travel with your RV. You have everything you need in the RV, from your kitchen to your bathroom and all your pet needs.
RVing with your pets also allows you to explore different places you may not have been able to visit if you didn't have them with you. From cities to towns, state parks to national parks, we will share with you some of the locations we've been to and even some of the ones we weren't able to!
First, let's talk about raising a puppy in an RV. There are many opinions on this topic, but we are of the team supporting it. In your home, you raise your puppy by limiting their range until they can be trusted beyond the boundaries. Well, in an RV, their scope is determined by the size of the RV! Perfect scenario! Going outside is super quick and easy to keep on top of potty training, and many RV resorts even have dog parks they can play in! Even taking those little pups around the RV park is fantastic for their socialization skills and such a stimulating experience all around, which they need.
With an endless supply of new communities to seek out, your new puppy or seasoned dog will thoroughly enjoy traveling.
What is our favorite destination to take our boy Chance? Main Street USA. Some of our best memories include taking our dog to all the local downtown areas, farmer's markets, and window shopping until we have soaked in all the community culture. Main streets everywhere have opened up to pets exploring their cities alongside humans. Many small business owners leave water bowls outside their shops and occasionally even allow us to bring Chance in with us. If your pets aren't well socialized, this may be tricky; but the possibilities are endless for dogs with excellent manners. Thankfully our guy is great with people and other animals, so we can enjoy ourselves whenever we explore. He benefits by getting spoiled rotten with attention by everyone we meet.
Dining out can now even include your pet! With all the outside seating that has become popular, call ahead to find out if your restaurant choices have outdoor seating and may allow dogs. For example, we were recently at a restaurant, and they offered us a Dog menu for Chance. It was late in the day, and we were not returning to the RV for a few more hours, so we ordered him the Grilled Chicken. He LOVED it; it was an excellent opportunity to hang out with friends and include our dog.
Ok, let's talk about State Parks Vs. National Parks. We've found that, as a general rule, State parks are often more pet friendly than National Parks. You can't always bring your dog on public beaches and public use spaces, but the parks usually have plenty of trails to walk and explore with your buddy. Some state parks have specific places called dog beaches or special dog hours at a community beach, where you can bring them to play once most people have left. Of course, you need to check each park ahead of time, but most of the time, we find they are more open than National Parks.
On the other hand, national parks don't often allow pets on trails to preserve wildlife and natural resources. Dogs can not only disrupt the ecosystem within the National Parks but can also become prey for larger animals. The NPS does acknowledge the growth of traveling with our pets and now has a pretty well-developed Bark Ranger Program. Over 30 national parks have started a Bark Ranger program and did this to maintain their regulations while still educating people with pets about where they can safely go and what is expected behavior in a national park. Initially designed for education, the initiative has grown so popular that it is copied elsewhere. Bark Rangers now get certificates of completion, dog tags, patches, etc. Chance now has his own collection of started and is super excited.
BARK stands for Bag your Poop, Always wear a leash, Respect wildlife, and Know where you can go.
The current list of parks with Bark Ranger programs is below.
Acadia National Park – Maine
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument – Nebraska
Biscayne National Park – Florida
Bryce National Park – Utah
Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site – North Carolina
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument – Florida
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Park – Washington DC & Maryland
Chiriahua National Monument – Arizona
De Soto National Memorial – Florida
Death Valley National Park – California & Nevada
Devil's Tower National Monument – Wyoming
Fort Matanzas National Monument – Florida
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site – Oregon & Washington
Friendship Hill National Historic Site – Pennsylvania
Gateway Arch National Park – Missouri
George Washington Carver National Monument – Missouri
Glen Canyon National Recreation Area – Utah & Arizona
Golden Spike National Historic Park – Utah
Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona
Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado
Gulf Islands National Seashore – Florida & Mississippi
Harper's Ferry National Historic Park– West Virginia
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park– Hawaii
Hopewell Culture National Historic Site – Ohio
Independence Hall National Park – Pennsylvania
Indiana Dunes National Park – Indiana
Joshua Tree National Park – California
Lake Mead National Recreation Area – Arizona & Nevada
Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area – Washington
Little River Canyon National Preserve – Alabama
Minute Man National Historic Park – Massachusetts
Montezuma Castle National Monument – Arizona
Natchez Trace Parkway – Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee
Olympic National Park – Washington
Pecos National Historical Park – New Mexico
Petersburg National Battlefield – Virginia
Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore – Michigan
Pipestone National Monument – Minnesota
Redwood National Park – California
Russel Cave National Monument – Alabama
Sagamore Hill National Historic Site – New York
Salem Maritime National Historic Site – Massachusetts
San Juan Islands National Park – Washington
Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site – Massachusetts
Tonto National Monument – Arizona
Tuzigoot National Monument – Arizona
Vicksburg National Military Park – Mississippi
Zion National Park – Utah
For the most part, we've found that the national parks that are pet friendly are often ok with pets walking on vehicle roads, but not on the wooded hiking trails filled with wildlife. Some are also Ok with pets staying within campground boundaries, but not in the actual parks. But, honestly, it is up to the park's protective needs, so think about your park, and do some research first.