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Best State Parks for Tent Camping With Your Dog

Posted by Lauren Barker

Many folks and their furry friends enjoy the luxuries of RVs, cabins, and glamping, but there’s something special about pitching a tent and cuddling up in a sleeping bag next to Fido. Additionally, tent camping is generally less expensive and a simple way to connect with nature. While many state parks across the country welcome four-legged campers to join their humans on the ground beneath the stars, we think these nine are the “ulti-mutt” experience.

Alum Creek State Park Campground

Delaware, OH
“Modeling for a painting is hard work.” Photo by Alum Creek State Park

Pack Fido’s beach towel for a camping adventure at Alum Creek State Park Campground. He’ll have a ball swimming, running, and making new friends at the park’s Alum Creek Dog Park which features an off-leash swim area and separate sections for small and large dogs. Your pooch can also join you on over eight miles of hiking trails, fishing along narrow coves and inlets, or on a paddle around Alum Creek Reservoir. All 323 campsites include electricity and access to restrooms and hot showers, are either shaded or sunny, and some have views of the lake. If your pooch is craving more time in nature, visit Gallant Woods Preserve and explore the park’s 200 pet-friendly acres.

Cobscook Bay State Park Campground

Dennysville, ME
Camping is “in tents.” Photo by @bigdogozzie

Nestled along the shores of Maine’s Whiting Bay, an inlet off the larger Cobscook Bay, the Cobscook Bay State Park Campground is the perfect spot for pitching a tent and enjoying the great outdoors with Fido. The 888-acre park is home to abundant wildlife and features two pet-friendly trails with bay views and scenic overlooks. Experienced boaters can use the park’s boat launch to explore the water, and admire the ebb and flow of the region’s impressive tides which can range from 24 to 28 feet. The seasonal campground boasts 106 spaced out and private wooded campsites along the bay. Each site has easy access to restrooms and hot showers, and includes a picnic table and fire ring. Continue enjoying all that coastal Maine has to offer by visiting nearby Quoddy Head State Park which features five miles of pet-friendly trails and more gorgeous views of the coastline.

Paul B. Johnson State Park Campground

Hattiesburg, MS
“I hope they’re roasting hot dogs.” Photo by @glittergoddess23

Relax in the beauty of Mississippi’s pine belt region when you set up camp beneath the loblolly and long-leaf pines, along with dogwoods and ancient oaks at Paul B. Johnson State Park Campground. Take Fido on a stroll along the nature trail and get an educational look at the plant, bird, and animal life throughout the park. Plan ahead and have a picnic overlooking Geiger Lake. After lunch, bring your pup along while you cast a line for bluegill, crappie, and large-mouth bass, or bring your boat and spend a day on the 225-acre freshwater lake. When you’re ready to bed down for the night, the 125 developed and 25 primitive tent sites will ensure a good night’s rest. There are no amenities at the primitive sites. However, showers, flush restrooms, and a laundry facility are located within the developed campground. Before breaking camp, head over to the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi to discover more beauty in nature at the All American Rose Garden, which features over 750 varieties of the colorful and fragrant flower.

Flathead Lake State Park Campground

Big Arm, MT
Peaceful, quiet, and dog-friendly. Photo by Facebook.com/flatheadlakestatepark

The trails at Flathead Lake State Park are wonderful places to enjoy with your furry friends, but it may be difficult to leave the peace and quiet of your tent site beneath the towering ponderosa pine and juniper trees in the Big Arm unit of the state park campground. Situated along the shores of the largest natural freshwater lake in the western U.S., the campground offers stunning views of the water and surrounding Mission Mountains. Each of the 40 campsites include a picnic table, fire ring, and bear-proof locker, as well as access to vault and flush restrooms and hot showers. Fido is also welcome to join you in the Wayfarers, West Shore, and Yellow Bay units of the park for more opportunities to hike, view wildflowers, and fish.

Tomoka State Park Campground

Ormond Beach, FL
“History ruff, ready to learn!” Photo by BringFido/Tiffany

Camp with Fido where Native Americans once dwelled at Tomoka State Park Campground. Furry history buffs will get their fill while exploring this eastern Florida park known for its native and plantation past, as well as the lagoons that are popular today for fishing and boating. Explore the waters with your pooch and you’ll likely spot manatees and gopher tortoises along with hundreds of migratory birds. On land your pup can hike with you on one of the nature trails or stop by the many interpretive plaques and signs to learn about the region’s history and resources. When it’s time to rest your paws, pop your tent near the Tomoka River at one of the park’s 100 shaded campsites. The campground includes three restrooms with hot showers, picnic tables, grills, and electricity and water. Park enthusiasts can also visit the trails of nearby North Peninsula State Park for a chance to spot more wildlife.

Cape Lookout State Park Campground

Tillamook, OR
“Are you going to eat all of that?” Photo by @l.michel

Located on a sand spit between Netarts Bay and the ocean, Cape Lookout State Park Campground features 170 tent sites that welcome canine campers. Leashed pups can play on the park’s main beach, but if Fido would prefer to run free, let him off leash at the sandy shore north of the campground. If he still has energy to burn, take your pooch for a hike along the five-mile round-trip Cape Trail, stopping to admire the ocean views as you make your way to the tip of Cape Lookout. Beachcombing and fishing are also popular activities to enjoy with your four-legged friends. Campers have access to potable water, flush toilets and hot showers. Pet-friendly yurts and deluxe cabins are also available. If time permits, make a stop at Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint for more breathtaking vistas.

Cathedral Gorge State Park Campground

Panaca, NV
Amazing views in every direction. Photo by @_mikelsphotography

Take your pup on a desert adventure at Cathedral Gorge State Park Campground. Your pooch can join you on trails that weave through cave-like formations and towering spires of soft, bentonite clay at this park in southeastern Nevada. Stop to admire the stunning canyon views and snap photos of Fido in the picturesque setting. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy under the shaded pavilion, and then spend the night at one of the 22 dog-friendly campsites. Each site includes a shade ramada, picnic table, grill, and an electric hook-up, and water and flush restrooms with hot showers are nearby. Continue exploring the area’s unique geography at nearby Kershaw-Ryan State Park which features canyon walls towering to 700 feet.

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

Klamath, CA
Sleep among the giants. Photo by Lauren Barker

Allow Fido to get up close to California’s famous Giant Redwoods at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, and camp in the quiet of Elk Prairie Campground. While dogs are not allowed on trails within the park, they are permitted to walk along Cal-Barrel Road beneath the towering giants, and they’re welcome on the beach. As you enter the campground, keep your eyes out for the herd of Roosevelt Elk that call the park home, and stop for a photo opportunity at the massive redwoods just past the entrance. Snuggle with Fido around the campfire on a cool, summer night, and take a peek at the night sky through the canopy of trees. Hot, coin-operated showers, flush restrooms, and potable water are available, and each site features a fire ring, picnic table and bear-proof locker. Just a short drive up the Redwood Highway you’ll find the Trees of Mystery and Skytrail, featured in BringFido’s book, Ruff Guide to the United States. Your pooch will have more opportunities to marvel at the forest when you ride the gondola high above the treetops.

Wilson State Park

Sylvan Grove, KS
“It’s a ruff life, but somebody has to do it.” Photo by @mylongstrangetrip

Located in the heart of the Smoky Hills of Kansas, Wilson State Park Campground sits on the shore of the Wilson Reservoir and is surrounded by scenic cliffs and rugged outcrops. Fido can join you on trails throughout the park, including a one-mile paved loop for a leisurely stroll. Bring your rod and reel for a chance to catch white and striped bass, or your camera to capture the perfect shot of deer, pheasant, waterfowl, and furbearers. You canine camper will enjoy relaxing by your side at one of the campsites in the Hell Creek or Otoe sections of the park. Both primitive tent sites and those with water and electricity are available, and restrooms, shower houses, fish cleaning stations, and boat ramps are scattered throughout select campgrounds. During your visit, make a drive to neighboring Brookville to visit Kansas’ smallest state park, Mushroom Rock, which features giant mushroom-shaped formations, once the meeting point for Native American tribes.

Do you have a favorite state park to tent camp with your dog? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by iStock/IRYNA KAZLOVA..