Favorite California campgrounds for dog lovers

By: DogTrekker Staff
Border collie in tent at campground

New discoveries are nice, but so are places to which you and your four-legged buddy return time after time. Here are a few of our paw-tested California campgrounds for dogs.

Carson Pass/Highway 88: One of the most scenic roads in the Tahoe area, Highway 88, south of the lake, climbs to the summit of 8,652-foot Carson Pass, rolling past many lakes and campgrounds along the way. Caples LakeSilver Lake and Kirkwood Lake are beauty spots with Forest Service campgrounds as well as quick proximity to several scenic hiking trails and small mountain resorts where you can grab a meal.

Our favorite, though, is Woods Lake Campground, which sits at the end of a winding, two-mile road. It operates on a first-come basis, so don’t show up on a Friday afternoon thinking you’ll get lucky enough to pitch your tent at one of only 25 campsites. It’s a pretty spot, but the real attraction is the trailhead for a three- to six-mile loop hike to Little Round Top and/or Winnemucca Lakes. The scenery is spectacular, and the wildflower show in July is considered one of the Sierra’s best. Bring a coat: at 8,200 feet elevation it’s always cold at night.

Nevada Beach, Lake Tahoe: On the southeast (Nevada) side of Big Blue, with a strip of sand set aside for off-leash dog fun, this piece of real estate is as primo as it gets for Tahoe camping. As a bonus, it’s just five minutes from South Shore resorts and casinos and less than that to a grocery store.

Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, Monterey County: This long, spread-out campground in the redwoods feels like a magical, ferny world where you wouldn’t be surprised to see elves or trolls popping up in the morning fog. Dogs aren’t allowed on trails, but there’s plenty of room for walks and splashing along the Big Sur River, and dog-friendly Pfeiffer Beach is nearby.

Bothe-Napa Valley State Park: Ideally located between St. Helena and Calistoga on Highway 29/128, this park operated by the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District welcomes visitors with dogs in 30 tent/RV spaces as well as a few yurts (circular tents with cots, BYO bedding), but not in cabins. Pay showers and a swimming pool are available. No dogs are allowed on trails, but leashed pets can be walked on park roads –and hey, it’s minutes to all those Napa wineries.


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