Planning the Perfect Dog Friendly RV Trip

by | Jun 2, 2017 | RV Buyer's Guide

Wondering how to take a trip with your furry friend? Traveling with a pet isn’t easy, but leaving them at home is even worse, so we’ve put together some tips on RV travel to make the trip enjoyable for both you and your four-legged family members. From campground recommendations to recreation, we found the best way to keep your vacation Fido-friendly!


Top 10 Dog-Friendly Destinations

While unlimited pet access is granted in almost every national forest, reservation, and state park, it is extremely limited throughout national parks. However, if you keep him on a leash no longer than six feet, Rover can roam freely (with you by his side of course) at a select few parks! Here is our list of the top 10 national parks that are essential to your summer travel list for you and your pup!

Pa’rus Trail in Zion National Park

  1. Zion National Park in Utah

If you and your pup are beginners in hiking, a trip to Zion National Park in Utah is perfect for you! With incredible views and a paved path, the Pa’rus Trail is sure to be enjoyable for both dog and owner. Lined with numerous waste buckets, this trail makes cleaning up after your dog easy. At a little over a mile and a half one way, you have a view of a canyon, red rock mountains, beautiful wildlife, and rivers. If you want a truly spectacular sight, we suggest planning your hike around sunset. Even though the Pa’rus Trail is the only path at this park open to our furry friends, they are allowed access to every campsite and within 100 feet of any other pavement. RV camping space here is very limited, so it would be best to make a reservation ahead of time.


Yosemite National Park

  1. Yosemite National Park in California

There’s no doubt that Yosemite National Park makes just about everyone’s list of top parks to visit, and with its pet-friendliness, it’s bound to make the top of your dog’s list as well! Your pup will be able to explore any developed area, paved pathways, campgrounds, and a select few trails in the Wawona and Hodgdon Meadow areas. As a flat 3.5-mile trail, Wawona Meadow Loop is the best excursion for your dog to tag along. This easy hike will take you through the forest and meadow all in about 2 hours. You can experience blooming wildflowers and an assortment of plant life. Yosemite even offers a kennel service that can take care of your pup while you go on the more advanced hikes, and with 10 campgrounds that can accommodate RVs, this is a great destination to spend a few nights.


Medano Creek in Great Sand Dunes National Park

  1. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado

What dog doesn’t love rolling around in the sand? At Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado, you and your furry friend can engage in a variety of activities that include exploring the preserve and climbing the dunes. Because the park is neighbored by the reserve, your pet has the opportunity to explore even more. We suggest climbing the dunes in the early morning or evening because the sand can be a little toasty on your pup’s paws when the sun is high around mid-day. Watch out for cactus spines as well to keep your buddy happy. Because Medano Creek is only 18 inches at the deepest, it is the perfect safe place for both you and your puppy to cool off.  With plenty of space for RVs and campground access for pets, this is a great place to stop for a night along your summer RV road trip.


Death Valley National Park

  1. Death Valley National Park in Nevada and California

If you’re looking to bring your pooch along on an adventure that includes a landscape with everything from valleys to forests, we suggest Death Valley National Park. With Inyo National Forest nearby, there are plenty of trails and paths that your pup will be able to roam. With so many activities and trails, this is a great place to park your RV for an extended stay! Dogs are allowed on every campsite that RVs can access, but we suggest calling ahead because there’s only room for four furry friends in each site. Death Valley is one of the only parks that allows your pet on dirt roads and back country, but watch out for your dog’s paws and the wildlife! We wouldn’t want your pup to have an unfriendly encounter with a coyote or rattlesnake.


Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

  1. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

Why explore one of the seven natural wonders of the world by yourself when you could bring your puppy along? While the majority of the trails are closed to pets due to safety issues, the Grand Canyon National Park has done a great job at ensuring your pup the experience of breathtaking views as well. You can trek the Tuweep trail and anywhere above the South Rim trails as long as your pup is secured with a six-foot leash. However, we recommend a shorter leash for these hikes, so you can keep your pup close to your side and away from the edge. Pets are allowed to lodge at Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, and Trailer Village Campground which offers full hookups for RVs. If you want to take a trip into the canyon on your visit, South Rim Kennel will gladly entertain your pup for just the day or overnight if needed.


Acadia National Park

  1. Acadia National Park in Maine

If both you and your pup are experienced hikers, Acadia National Park is the place for you! With over 140 miles of hiking trails and pathways that you can explore with your pup, the adventures here are endless! Trails range from very easy, flat path hikes to strenuous trails with steep hills and steady climbs. If you are going to bring your pooch on an uneven path that may contain rocks, we suggest buying your buddy some boots or using wool socks secured around their feet to make sure their paws are protected. You can even bring your furry friend along on a day trip to Isle au Haut, an island off the coast of Maine that is dog friendly and free to explore. You can park your RV with your pet in tow at Backwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds.


Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

  1. Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio

If you’ve been searching for the perfect place to experience waterfalls, forests, valleys, and beautiful sights with your pup, Cuyahoga Valley is a great destination. There are over 130 miles of trails that you can hike and almost every trail is open for your dog to tag along! For an easy trip, we suggest taking your pup on the 1.5-mile Brandywine Gorge Trail to view the Brandywine Falls and relax by the water. If you and your pup are more experienced in hiking, we suggest the 19.5-mile Towpath Trail that travels along a crushed limestone path. No matter what trail you choose, be sure to always remember water to keep your dog properly hydrated. Even though the park does not offer any overnight RV accommodations on site, the website offers a list of RV campgrounds within an hour of the park.


Appalachian Trail

  1. Appalachian National Scenic Trail in CT, GA, MA, MD, ME, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, TN, VA, VT, WV

If you have a dog that loves to explore, the Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a great place for you to visit! Whether you are a beginner or experienced hiker, there is a part of the trail that will fit your needs perfectly. With over 2,180 miles of trail stretching out over 14 states on the East Coast, the trail is constantly changing in elevation and contains one of the most diverse landscapes and wildlife arrangements in the national park system. Because 60% of the trails do not require your pooch to be on a leash, this trail is also a perfect match for obedient dogs that like to roam close to their human. While the trail itself does not offer any RV campsites, there are plenty of campgrounds along the path that are pet friendly!


Shenandoah National Park

  1. Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

You can’t go wrong with bringing your dog to Shenandoah National Park! With over 480 of the 500 miles of trail available to explore with your pooch, your options for trail and difficulty level are endless. Just make sure your pup is ready for a strenuous hike if you choose a longer trail. The longer the trail, the longer it will take you to complete it, so be sure to pack enough water for your pup to stay hydrated and full of energy. If you and your dog enjoy moderate hiking, we suggest taking the 4.7-mile Overall Run Falls Trail that leaves directly from one of the 3 pet-friendly RV sites. On this trail you can experience nature, wildlife and a view of the beautiful waterfall. If you enjoy a mountain hike more, we suggest the 4.6-mile moderate Sugarloaf Circuit that leads to a beautiful view of the valley. Parking your RV here is always a good idea and Matthews Arm, Big Meadows, and Loft Mountain are all RV and pet-friendly campsites.


Olympic National Park

  1. Olympic National Park in Washington

Our top Fido-friendly forest is Olympic National Park located in the state of Washington. This park goes above and beyond to ensure that man’s best friend is not only welcome but enjoys their experience as well. Your pup can explore 5 locations throughout the park and through the entire neighboring Olympic National Forest. Pets are welcome on any campground and many of the sites offer RV parking as well. However, our favorite part about this park is that your pup has the opportunity to become a BARK ranger. You just have to B- bag the poop, A- Always wear a leash, R- respect wildlife, and K- know where you can go. After the training, your pup will receive a special BARK Ranger badge!


Service Dogs

Every national park welcomes your service dog at any area of the park as long as it is safe. However, the dog must be certified and properly vaccinated to gain entry.


Accessories for Pet-Friendly Travel

Traveling with a pet can be overwhelming. It becomes easy to forget essentials that will be needed along the way. Whether you are just bringing your pet along in an RV or plan on hiking with your best friend, we’ve comprised a list of things you don’t want to forget!


RV Essentials

When traveling, you want to make sure your pet is as comfortable in the RV as it is in the house. We suggest bringing along the dog bed or crate that your dog typically uses at home. Packing a couple toys can keep your pooch occupied and comfortable. If your pet’s stomach is easily upset, remember to plan accordingly and buy enough food to last your entire road trip, as your dog’s preferred food may not be available everywhere. Non-slip food and water bowls will help keep the mess to a minimum, but you should always bring along paper towels, carpet cleaner, and puppy pads to ensure the cleanest trip possible. Be sure not to forget any medications or vitamins your dog is taking, proof of vaccination, and a first aid kit that includes pet insect repellent and sunscreen. If your dog will be outdoors at all, make sure his tags are up to date and you have a leash. Always bring waste bags to clean up after your pet and an old towel to make sure your pooch is clean and dry before entering the RV after an excursion. And to make sure your pooch stays as safe as possible, always bring a way to secure them when the vehicle is moving.


Hiking Essentials

If you are planning to take your dog somewhere water will be limited or on a hike longer than a mile, you will need to bring extra supplies. Always pack extra water for your pup and if the hike is over a long period of time, be sure to pack food as well. Collapsible food and water bowls that store easily are available at most camping and hiking stores. Make sure the leash you pack is no longer than six feet to comply with national park guidelines. If your hike is strenuous or lengthy, we suggest a dog pack to carry your dog’s essentials including waste backs, boots, a small towel, first aid items, and any extra food, water and treats.


Bonus Tips

Of course, each park and RV campsite has rules when it comes to our furry friends, so here’s our top three tips on how to make RVing with your pet a success.


  1. Training

Always make sure before you embark in your RV, that your dog has the proper training and a high obedience level. Whether this is your pup’s first or fiftieth trip in an RV, we suggest doing a one night test before you leave to be sure your dog has everything it needs to be comfortable in the small living space. Many of the campsites have strict rules on barking so be sure your dog is able to stay quiet during the night. Keeping your dog on a strict feeding and watering schedule will allow you to predict when you need to stop for a break.


  1. Vet Visit

A visit to the vet is imperative to ensure that your pup is prepared for the trip. If you are hiking, ask your vet if your dog is capable of completing the trails you intend to take. Vaccination records are required at the majority of national park RV campgrounds, so be sure to get a copy of those if you don’t have them. And just in case you are separated from your pup, make sure he is micro-chipped.


  1. Plan Ahead

Our last and most important tip for taking an RV trip with your dog is to always plan ahead. Packing too much is better than not having enough food or supplies to keep your pooch happy and healthy! Call the campsite you plan to stay at and ensure that they are open, have room, and haven’t reached their pet capacity. Double check on the prices of bringing a furry friend along, and make a reservation to ensure a spot at your desired campground. In the summer months, camping space at many of the national parks fills quickly. If you want to know any of the park’s policies on pets, go to their website, scroll over plan visit, choose basic info, and click on pets.


We know that pets are a part of the family and having a pet friendly plan of travel is essential for a long summer vacation that is enjoyable for everyone! We are sure this list will help you have the best RV trip with your dog this summer!

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