Understanding the Different Types of Pet-Friendly Campgrounds

Dogs in a tent

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If you are someone who likes to go camping, you likely know it is one of the more pet-friendly trips you can take with your pet. You don’t have to worry about finding a hotel that allows animals, and the outdoor environment can be comfortable and enriching for many pets. 

Since spring offers up some of the best camping weather of the year—temperate days that don’t get too hot and chilly evenings that are perfect for huddling around a fire—it’s a great time to refresh your knowledge of pet-friendly campgrounds. 

What Are Pet-Friendly Campgrounds?

Pet-friendly campgrounds allow visitors to have pets at their campsites. These campgrounds often have specific pet policies that campers need to follow, the most common being a leash or containment policy. Campgrounds usually have hosts who stay onsite to enforce regulations. 

Since pets often need to be kept on a leash, many campers bring stakes to give their pets a radius of movement at the campsite. Some may also bring gates or pens to keep pets restricted to a certain area.

Other common regulations include picking up after your pet and obeying noise restrictions or quiet hours because campsites are often located close to one another, and continual barking can disturb other visitors. Though not as common, some campgrounds may also enforce breed restrictions or require a pet fee. 

Many policies are specific to dogs because these are the most common pets you’ll see at campgrounds. However, some campgrounds may welcome all pets, especially for campers who keep their cats or other pets inside a recreational vehicle (RV). 

Benefits of Camping with Your Pet

Backpacking with dog

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There are plenty of benefits of camping with pets, including:

  • Enjoying quality time together
  • Time spent outdoors is enriching for animals
  • You may feel safer sleeping outdoors with a pet by your side
  • You don’t have to worry about boarding or finding a sitter for your pet while you are away
  • There are often hiking trails near campgrounds so you and your pet can get exercise together in a new, exciting place

Types of Pet-Friendly Campgrounds

There are many different types of campgrounds, ranging from tent-only camping, to RV parks designed for long-term stays, to campgrounds focused on atmosphere and nearby nature attractions. Some campgrounds may offer some more comfortable options, like cabins or glamping-style tents and accommodations.

Any of these options may or may not allow pets, so your best bet is to look up pet-friendly campgrounds in your area or to research the pet policies of campgrounds you are thinking about visiting. In general, it's a good idea to think about what you are looking for in a campground before booking. Some questions to ask your self include: Am I camping in a tent or an RV? Do I need hook-ups for electricity and water on my site? Do I want bathrooms with running water or showers? What other amenities are important to me? 

Some of the best destination campgrounds are those located within state and national parks and usually feature scenic hikes and other attractions. When camping at these parks, note that there may be more strict rules than other campgrounds, such as not allowing pets at some parks. 

Privately owned campgrounds can offer unique experiences, like single-site camping locations on farms, lakes, or private properties. The website Hipcamp can help track down these types of niche campgrounds. You can include pets in your search criteria to make sure they are pet-friendly.

It’s worth noting that websites for campgrounds can be notoriously non-user-friendly. If you are looking into a campground that doesn’t seem to have a lot of information online, you may want to call to ask about their pet policy.

Tips for Camping with Your Pet

Dog drinking water a campsite

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It is always important to be prepared when traveling with your pet. Here are some tips to think about when planning your next camping trip:

  • Know the rules. Getting caught off guard by not knowing the campground pet policy could end up ruining your stay. Look up the policy beforehand so you are prepared, and respect the regulations during your stay.
  • Pack for your pet. When gathering up your camping gear, don’t forget to bring enough food and water for your pet as well as bowls, toys, a bed, and whatever else they’ll need for an overnight stay.
  • Be prepared for the weather. Spending time outdoors can mean exposure to cold, heat, rain, and other elements. Depending on the weather, your pet may need a coat, blankets, a shade umbrella, or other supplies to keep them safe and comfortable. 
  • Be cautious of ticks, fleas, and other parasites. Ticks love tall grass and wooded areas, so make sure your pet is up-to-date on their flea and tick medication before camping. Also keep an eye out for standing water at campgrounds, which could give your pet a parasite.
  • Be responsible. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your pet’s behavior, so keeping them in check and obeying the rules will ensure your trip goes smoothly.