There are more than 10,000 state parks across the country, but they are often overlooked for the more well-known and usually much larger national parks. However, state parks can pack a punch of their own with spectacular geological and historical features, typically lesser crowds, and in many cases, more activities that you can enjoy with your pup. Fido will be begging you for a trip to these pet-friendly state parks on the west coast.
Posted by Lauren Barker
Donner Memorial State Park
Donner Memorial State Park is one of the most dog-friendly state parks in California. Located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Fido is welcome to join you on the Lakeside Interpretive Trail, the Zig Zag Trail and along the shore of beautiful Donner Lake. Bring your fishing gear or your own boat for a day on the water, and a picnic lunch to enjoy at a lakeside table. During your visit, snap a photo with Pioneer Monument, one of California’s historical landmarks, dedicated to the emigrants who crossed the rugged Sierra on their westward journey in the mid-1800s.
Your pup is welcome to join you for no additional fee at one of the park’s 154 campsites that are open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If Fido would prefer not to “ruff” it, stay nearby Tahoe Donner Retreat in Truckee. This three-bedroom rental includes a fireplace and access to the community pool as well as the Donner Lake Marina. Pets of any size are welcome for no additional fee.
Ecola State Park
Fido can splash in the waves along 9 miles of coastline at Ecola State Park. Dogs may be let off leash in the water if they’re able to follow voice commands. Explore beautiful tidepools at Indian Beach and view the famed sea stack rocks that line the Pacific Ocean. When on land, leashed pups can hike with you on trails through Sitka spruce forests and on 8 miles of the Oregon Coast Trail. You may even walk in the footsteps of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Your pooch might spot wildlife like eagles, deer and elk, and if you’re visiting in spring or winter, maybe even migrating gray whales. After all, Ecola is the Chinook word for “whale.”
Your pup can have his pick of pet-friendly accommodations in Cannon Beach. Two dogs of any size are permitted at The Wayside Inn, where they’ll receive a welcome basket of dog amenities at check-in. The pet fee is an additional $15 per pet, per night. If your family needs extra room, book a King Bungalow at The Ocean Lodge, where two pets of any size are allowed for an additional fee of $20 per pet, per night. Furry friends will receive a basket of goodies to enjoy during their stay.
Lime Kiln Point State Park
Lime Kiln Point State Park has earned the nickname “Whale Watch Park,” and is known as one of the best places in the world to view orcas. From May through September, Fido can join you at one of the picnic tables along the sea cliffs while you search the waters for pods of gray, humpback and minke whales, as well as porpoises. Leashed dogs are also allowed to explore along the craggy shoreline and hike to breathtaking views above an old limestone quarry. Stop by the two-story restored lime kiln and the still-functioning 1919 vintage lighthouse. Lime Kiln Point State Park is located on San Juan Island, accessible by a dog-friendly ride aboard the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes.
Lime Kiln Point State Park is day-use only, but if it’s camping you’re after, nearby San Juan County Park welcomes pets for no additional fee. More luxurious accommodations are available across the island at Tucker House Inn in Friday Harbor. Two pets of any size are permitted for an additional fee of $25 per night, and for an extra $10, Fido will receive the Pampered Pet Package that includes scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast, a dog wash soap bar, and homemade dog bones.
Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park
While northern California is home to many state and national parks preserving the famous California Redwoods, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains allows furry friends to hike amongst the giants on one of several trails. Spend the day with your pup on the Meadow Trail, Graham Hill Trail, Powder Mill Fire Road Trail, or the paved 6.2-mile roundtrip Pipeline Road Trail, where you can take a break at the overlook bench and admire the view. In addition to the redwood habitat, you can also explore grasslands, rivers and sandhills.
Fido is allowed at Henry Cowell Redwoods Graham Hill Campground for no additional fee, but if he’s looking for a unique experience, book the Mt Herman Treehouse in Felton. One dog of any size is accepted for an additional fee of $20 per night.
L.L. Stub Stewart State Park
When it comes to pet-friendly state parks, Oregon has its fair share, but L.L. Stub Stewart State Park might top the list. This 1,800-acre, forested hillside park located just 34 miles from Portland not only allows furry hikers on more than 30 miles of trails, but also includes a fenced, off-leash dog area and a rinse station for muddy paws. Your canine companion can also join you on the 3-hole beginner disc golf course, or for a stroll along the paved 21-mile Banks-Veronia State Trail that passes through the park. Just be sure to keep an eye out for mountain bikes and horses while hiking.
At L.L. Stub Stewart State Park Campground and Cabins, you can cozy up to a campfire with Fido at one of the full-hookup campsites at the Dairy Creek Campground, or if you’re feeling adventurous, hike to the primitive Brooke Creek Camp and pitch a tent. Pets are allowed in the campground for no additional fee. Five rustic cabins with electricity and heat also permit four-legged guests for an additional fee of $10 per night, included in the nightly rate.
Lake Wenatchee State Park
Whether your pup prefers land or water, there’s something for her at Lake Wenatchee State Park. The glacier-fed, 5-mile-long lake is surrounded by mountains, providing exceptional views, crystal-clear water, and plenty of opportunity for swimming or boating. Kayaks and paddleboards are also available to rent. If water isn’t her thing, hike through the highland forest, including a trek up the 9-mile Dirtyface Peak that rises 3,950 feet and provides unparalleled vistas. During winter, the park becomes Chiwawa Sno-Park, a winter wonderland ideal for skiing or snowshoeing with your pooch along 30 miles of groomed trails.
Lake Wenatchee State Park allows year-round camping. In winter, pitch your tent next to a fire ring along the lake’s shoreline and enjoy amenities like heated restrooms and warming shelters. Pets are allowed for no additional fee. If a hotel is more your style, book a room at Bavarian Ritz Hotel in nearby Leavenworth. Two dogs of any size are permitted for an additional fee of $20 per pet, per night.
Mendocino Headlands State Park
Bring Fido to admire stunning views of the Pacific coastline and hike miles of dirt trails along rugged sea cliffs at Mendocino Headlands State Park. Stop along the paths to search the seas for wildlife, and you might even spot a gray whale off in the distance. Take a short stroll down a path to Portuguese Beach, where your leashed pup can sink his paws into the sand. From there, you may choose to continue on to the bluffs dotted with benches for admiring the view or take the path to Big River Beach, where the Big River empties into Mendocino Bay. Leashed dogs are welcome to explore the west side of the beach.
While you’re in Mendocino, visit Point Cabrillo Light Station State Historic Park with your best friend and wander the half-mile coastal trail to the lighthouse that was built in 1909. Your pup is welcome to step inside with you and look around.
Mendocino Headlands State Park is day-use only, so camping is not permitted. However, the town of Mendocino has plenty of options for furry friends to relax. Book your stay at Inn at Schoolhouse Creek, where your pooch will be greeted with a pet kit that includes a bed, bowls, treats, a leash lanyard with waste bags, Frisbee, welcome letter, towels and a mat. You’ll also have access to the “Dog Meadow,” a large lawn on the property. Two pets of any size are allowed for an additional fee of $25 per pet, per night.
Silver Falls State Park
While Fido may not be able to see all 10 of the waterfalls Silver Falls State Park is famously known for, he’ll still be in “pawradise” while hiking in this “crown jewel” of Oregon state parks. Leashed pups are allowed on more than 25 miles of backcountry trails as well as the 6-mile Perimeter Trail which leads to Rackett Ridge, the highest point in the park. If it’s a waterfall you're after, set off along the Rim Trail, a 2.4-mile section of the Trail of Ten Falls that permits pets. You’ll both be rewarded with excellent views of the park’s North Falls.
Bring your tent, camper or RV and stay at Silver Falls State Park Campground, or book one of the seven dog-friendly cabins that are open year-round. Pets are welcome for no additional fee. More park accommodations including tiny cabins, family lodges and cottages are available at Smith Creek Village. Pets are permitted in most lodgings for no additional fee.
Cape Disappointment State Park
Walk the path of Lewis and Clark where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean on Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula at Cape Disappointment State Park. Leashed dogs can hike with their owners through old-grove forests, along sandy beaches and around freshwater lakes. Bring Fido to dig for clams, fly a kite, or learn about the park’s vast history, including stories of the two lighthouses that adorn the shore and the overgrown ruins of military bunkers and gun batteries on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Park visitors interested in fishing can launch a boat from Baker Bay or find a spot along the North Jetty where your pup can help you catch salmon and crab.
Year-round camping is available at Cape Disappointment State Park Campground, where dogs are welcome at the 137 tent sites for no additional fee. The park’s cabins also allow pets for an additional fee of $15 per night. Salt Hotel, located across from the Port of Ilwaco Marina, permits two pets of any size for an additional fee of $20 per pet, per stay.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California. This desert landscape is harsh and rugged, so pets are not allowed on trails. However, they are welcome on the paved 1.2-mile roundtrip path from the visitor center to the campground, which gives visitors a glimpse of the diverse ecosystem. The path is especially pretty in spring, when the area blooms with abundant wildflowers. Pups are also permitted on dirt roads throughout the park where you can both admire the mountain landscape formed by gradual erosion. Be on the lookout for bighorn sheep, iguanas, golden eagles, mule deer and red diamond rattlesnakes.
If your canine is up for desert camping, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Campground offers two options, the Borrego Palm Canyon and Tamarisk Grove Campgrounds. Both welcome pets for no additional fee. Outside the park, you can relax poolside while Fido rests up at Stanlunds Inn And Suites. Two pets of any size are allowed for an additional fee of $10 per pet, per night.
After checking out our favorite dog-friendly state parks on the west coast, make sure to visit our top picks on the east coast!
Do you have a favorite dog-friendly state park on the west coast? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!
Banner photo by @phoebe.the.akk.