Let’s say you’re into roughing it a bit —tent camping, say, but your significant other doesn’t like to sleep on the ground and your four-legged companion would likewise be more comfortable on a dog bed than in the dirt. Well, DogTrekkers, you have choices. Many, many choices.
In the past decade, dozens of “glamping” options have sprung up around the state. The term refers to rustic-chic accommodations ranging from safari-style tents or yurts to luxuriously outfitted Airstream trailers, usually in highly desirable locations. Not all are dog-friendly, but many are, so be sure to inquire.
Some glamping properties offer more than one kind of accommodation. The family-friendly Inn Town Campground, walking distance to Nevada City, for example, has pitch-your-own tent sites and RV sites with hookups in addition to 18 deluxe canvas tents (half of them dog-friendly) outfitted with heated mattress pads, reading lights, private balconies and picnic tables. Other amenities include fire pits, a communal lounge, swimming pool and camp store.
Vintage travel-trailer parks are another glamping trend, offering a fun twist on the RV experience. Dog-friendly examples include the AutoCamp Airstream Park in downtown Santa Barbara and two others under the same management, one just outside the Russian River (Sonoma County) town of Guerneville. The other, AutoCamp Yosemite, is in Midpines, not far from Yosemite National Park.
Even the venerable KOA chain has changed with the times, diversifying to offer not just RV camping, but tent sites, cabins and dog-friendly, full-service lodges and other amenities and activities that appeal to a wide variety of campers. The San Francisco North/Petaluma KOA is a beautiful family resort within easy reach of San Francisco, the dog-friendly Russian River wine country and coastal beaches. With 312 spacious sites on 70 acres, DogCampers will find lots of trees and grassy areas along with canine-friendly amenities including an off-leash dog park and complete agility course. The campground also offers a full schedule of activities, including hayrides, pool parties, rock-wall climbing, wine tasting and dog-themed events from May to October.
Another favorite is the Santa Cruz/Monterey KOA in Watsonville, just a few miles from the coast. Talk about options: Pets are allowed in tent and RV sites as well as in designated camping cabins, and while they can’t jump in the heated pool with you, they’re welcome to hang out at the campfire or on the miniature golf course.
On the other end of the spectrum, hardy campers with a yen for the backcountry might hoist their backpacks and set out on the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,650-mile path stretching from Mexico to Canada. The trail traverses seven national parks, 26 national forests, 5 state parks and four national monuments. Dogs are allowed pretty much anywhere except on trails in national or state parks, but as you might imagine, there is no shortage of places to camp along the way. Read up about required permits before you go, check out the day-hike options and be familiar with Leave Only Paw Prints(tm) practices. And don’t forget a backpack for your dog so she can carry her own food and water!