Camping with Your Dog
For many, many years of my life I was an indoor cat. I would beg my parents to send me to Girl Scout Camp, swear up and down that I would successfully spend the night and then midnight would roll around on our first night and my troop leader would have to call my parents to get me and Dad would head out.
My husband was not an indoor cat and enjoyed hiking and camping. A couple of years ago, we started camping and I found I enjoyed it. Around the time COVID hit, we really got into camping-as many people did because it was a great way to get out of the house and be distanced.
We have tent camped and camper camped with Hector and you can successfully do both with a dog. We bought a really nice two room tent and camped that way for a little bit until we realized we were old and didn’t like to sweat. Once we figured that out, we bought the world’s tiniest camper that basically has room for us and Hector-but does have an air conditioner.
As far as camping with your dog, we are a huge fan of state parks. We have camped at some KOAs but state parks are typically what we are drawn to. If you elect to camp at an RV resort or the like, I always suggest google mapping and looking at an overview. Is it really a campground or is a concrete jungle with places to pull up your RV and no grass or space between the sites? With dogs, it’s nice to not be on top of your neighbor.
Some general rules with most campgrounds are that your dog should always be on a 6-foot lead and with you at all times. Some people put pens at their campsite but you can’t, and shouldn’t, leave them unattended. Tie-outs between trees aren’t allowed for the most case but I see people do it and it makes me nervous as a dog could pull free and take off running. You also shouldn’t go inside your tent/camper and leave your dog outside unattended. It’s for their safety and the safety of other guests. Always read the fine print of the campground rules as we have seen some that prohibit specific breeds and you don’t want to travel somewhere to find out you can’t stay because of the type of dog you have. And the rule that applies everywhere you take your four-legged friends-always clean up after them.
Now for the fun part, some of our favorite places to camp with Hector.
Monte Sano State Park
Honestly don’t overlook simply because it’s local. You can head up there for a weekend and feel totally removed from the city. The campsites are decently spaced apart and there are loads of trails. People are friendly and sometimes we see deer. Sites for both primitive camping and those with RVs are available.
DeSoto State Park
Fort Payne, Alabama
Part of the appeal of this campground is location. You can visit DeSoto Falls, Little River Canyon and stop in Mentone. The ever-popular Wildflower Café in Mentone even has a dog-friendly patio. The park frequently has special events and activities, sites are spaced decently and there is Wi-Fi though it is pretty spotty with the sites it reaches.
Tim’s Ford State Park
This state park is super popular. Some sites do overlook the water and have features that are almost like patios. Camping has gotten increasingly popular in recent years and with many campgrounds you have to book fairly far out, this one you absolutely do. We talked to people who go during the summer and book a year out. There’s some nice walking paths and sites are shady. If you have a boat, they have boat launches and we saw loads of people kayaking and canoeing.
Tishomingo State Park
This is a fun campground and they are in the process of doing some refurbishing. Online reservations are down until the end of March-ish. My only comment here is some of the sites are slanty and slope down to the water. One of us may have rolled down the hill accidentally. The sites surround a small lake and Hector loved watching the geese and ducks. They do have a cool swinging bridge and plenty of trails and options to canoe and fish.
4 Paws Kingdom
This is basically heaven for dogs. It is a campground that specifically caters to dogs and their humans aged 18 or older. No camper? No problem. They have Yurts, Cabins and Yomes. They also have an agility field, a dog park just for small dogs, the main dog park, a private dog park, a game field with lure coursing and Angel Creek Park which features a pond for the water loving dog. The area is beautiful. We took a day trip over to the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge and visited a dog friendly winery.
I could go on and on about places to camp with your dog. Chewacla State Park, Cheaha State Park-the view from Bald Rock is breathtaking, Lake Guntersville State Park (both Cheaha and Lake Guntersville have small dog parks) and Cloudland Canyon State Park are all beautiful as well.
With all the natural resources in our region, there is no way I could list, or visit them all. Let us know where’s your favorite place to camp?
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