Wagging in a Winter Wonderland: 7 Small Towns for a Winter Vacation with Fido

Posted by Lauren Barker

Imagine a day spent hiking along snowy mountain trails, skijoring with your pup, or sampling winter warmer craft brews. Then cuddling up with a cozy blanket, a glass of wine and your best furry friend in front of a fireplace. When the temperatures drop, why not make the most of it? Pack Fido’s suitcase with his warmest sweaters and get away to these pet-friendly towns that are “pawfect” for a winter retreat.

1. Crested Butte, CO

“Cold paws! Cold paws!” Photo by @goodboychuck

Beautiful scenery, nordic ski routes, double black diamond runs, an overabundance of shopping choices and many dog-friendly activities are just a few reasons the Rocky Mountain town of Crested Butte is a top destination for winter vacationers.

You and Fido will be on your own schedule when taking a self-guided stroll on the Crested Butte Heritage Walking Tour. Pick up a map at the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum and visit 42 historic homes, theaters, banks, schoolhouses, churches and other buildings. Afterwards, take a walk along the colorful storefronts of historic Elk Avenue, where many boutiques gladly welcome dogs inside. Shop for your pooch’s new winter digs like weather-proof jackets and technical boots at Mountain Tails. Then hop over to The Mountain Store to shop for yourself. Your canine companion will be greeted with fresh water and treats while you browse clothes and accessories for your mountain adventures. Finally, choose a good read at dog-friendly Townie Books, just in case you get snowed in.

If your four-legged friend gets cabin fever, hit the snow-covered trails with him at Crested Butte Nordic Center. Dogs are welcome to join you on five pet-friendly ski trails including Pooch’s Paradise, a mostly flat 3K with a couple of larger climbs to get his blood pumping.

Whether you keep it low key or action packed, you’ll be ready to end your day at the dog-friendly Nordic Inn. Before settling in for the night, gather around the community fire pit for s’mores, or if you’d rather stay in, grab a seat with your pooch at the lobby fireplace. Dogs of any size are allowed for an additional fee of $30 per night, and they’ll receive a pet welcome bag at check-in. Nightly rates start at $115.

2. Jackson Hole, WY

“Can I just have one to chew on, please?” Photo by @307live

When the great outdoors is calling, but you don’t want to feel too secluded, take Fido on a vacation to Jackson Hole. The Jackson Hole valley stretches 80 miles across northwestern Wyoming and ecompasses the land between the Teton Mountains and the Gros Ventre Range, providing endless fun in the wilderness for you and your pup. If you prefer to kick back and relax, the mountain resort town of Jackson Hole also includes plenty of pet-friendly activities.

Start your vacation by visiting the National Elk Refuge. Between mid-December through April, you and your not-so-wild animal can view a herd of local Elk as they graze for food in this protected environment. You may also spot other wildlife such as bighorn sheep or pronghorns. The National Elk Refuge lies just to the south of Grand Teton National Park. From November 1 through April 30, portions of roadways throughout the park are closed to traffic. During this time, leashed dogs are permitted on the Teton Park, Antelope Flats, and Moose-Wilson roads, so it’s the perfect opportunity to take Fido for a walk in the park. If your pup prefers to get off the beaten path, take her hiking in Shoshone National Forest.

Stop by Teton Tails to pick up new toys and treats to reward your good girl. And don’t pass up the chance to document your trip together with a souvenir picture at Jackson Hole’s Old Time Photos.

Book your stay at Snow King Resort Hotel, surrounded by the quiet of the Bridger-Teton National Forest yet within walking distance to downtown Jackson Hole. Two pets of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $25 per pet, per night. Nightly rates start at $135.

3. Lake Placid, NY

“Can we go outside and play in the snow now? Photo by @highpeaksresort

Lake Placid is often referred to as America’s playground, with activities for everyone year-round. During the winter, it's known for cold temperatures and icy conditions. To some that may not sound appealing, but if you and your furry friend love playing in the snow or boutique shopping, this is the getaway you’ve been waiting for.

Begin your winter vacation by cross-country skiing, hiking or skijoring with your pooch along the well-marked trails at John Brown Farm, which is free and open to the public. You can also try hiking or snow-shoeing at Peninsula Nature Trails. Take the .4-mile one-way hike on Lake Shore Trail around Lake Placid, or the .7-mile trek along the Ridge Trail. If staying inside is more your style, take your dog shopping at one of the many pet-friendly stores in Lake Placid, like The Adirondack Store, Man and Beast or Bear Essentials. Then Fido can join you as you sample award-winning wine in the satellite tasting room of Goose Watch Winery.

After a full day of outdoor fun, cozy up with your pup at High Peaks Resort. Fido will be welcomed with a comfy bed, food and water bowls and a bone-shaped mat, and you’ll find beautiful views of icy Mirror Lake and the Adirondack mountains towering behind it. During your stay, take your pooch on a brisk walk around Mirror Lake or play a game of fetch out on the ice. High Peaks Resort welcomes two dogs up to 75 lbs for an additional fee of $25 per pet, per night. Nightly rates start at $143.

4. Taos, NM

“Let’s get that fire going!” Photo by @hellolatchie

Winter in the southwest can be a magical experience when the desert heat turns into crisp, cold days. Taos is known for its world-class skiing and snowboarding, beautiful art, and majestic scenery, but it also ranks high in pet friendliness.

Prepare for your outdoor adventure by shopping with your mutt at Mudd N Flood, where you can stock up on the latest gear and outdoor essentials including leashes, daypacks, collapsible bowls and more. You might even meet Daisy, the shop dog. Then head over to Blue Sky Pet & Seed Supply and let your pup pick out more goodies for himself. Finally, grab a delicious breakfast or lunch on the heated patio of pet-friendly Bent Street Cafe in downtown.

Once you're properly fueled and attired, it's time for outdoor adventure. At Carson National Forest and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, dogs are allowed to join their owners on-leash for winter hikes. Pups are also welcome on 5km of dog-friendly ski trails at Enchanted Forest Cross Country Ski Area, and on snowshoe trails at Northside at Taos Ski Valley. For a unique winter treat, bring Fido on a two-hour Red River Offroad snowcat ride. He’ll feel the rush of adrenaline when crawling over snowy terrain on a guided tour, and will even get the opportunity to play in the snow when the tour takes a break at a sledding hill.

If your pooch would rather not venture out into the wilderness, take him for a long walk on the grounds of El Monte Sagrado Resort. He’ll also enjoy the outdoor fire and snuggling with you by your room’s fireplace in the evening. Canine guests receive a gift bag with a bandana, ball, treats and waste bags at check-in. Pets of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $75 per stay. Nightly rates start at $179.

5. Grand Marais, MN

“Can I get a set of those?” Photo by Mark Rose

Grand Marais is situated on the north shore of Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota, and surrounded by the beauty of Superior National Forest. While summer offers plenty of lake activities, winter is an equally exciting and beautiful time to vacation near the water.

Stop in at the dog-friendly Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply to stock up on the essentials for exploring the great outdoors. Pick out a Stone Harbor bandana and a new harness for your hound. Then rent a skijoring kit with all the equipment needed for just $10 a day, and take your pup on a snowy excursion. Dogs are welcome on select trails in the Gunflint Ranger District of Superior National Forest. If skijoring isn’t his thing, you can also take your canine cross-country skiing or snowmobiling on the Banadad Ski Trail. A Minnesota ski pass is required to access the trail.

There’s more to Grand Marais than its white winters. Spend the day exploring the downtown area. Fido is welcome to join you as you shop at Lake Superior Trading Post, Birchbark Books & Gifts or Picnic & Pine. After his retail therapy, he can make new friends at the Gunflint Horse Arena and Dog Park.

Warm up by the fireplace in your cabin at pet-friendly Gunflint Lodge. Your furry friend will be considered a “priority guest” during his stay. He’s even welcome on a special ski trail so you can enjoy the property’s wooded beauty together. Pets of any size are welcome for an additional fee of $25 per pet, per night. Nightly rates start at $155.

6. Park City, UT

“I could be the poster dog for this place.” Photo by @hugocoffee

The mountain resort town of Park City is nestled in the Wasatch Mountain Range in western Utah. The downtown area was established during the silver mining boom in the 19th century, and today is a busy community of shops and restaurants catering to visitors and their four-legged family members. You might even call it “Bark City.”

Warm up at Hugo Coffee Shop, located inside the Park City Visitor Center. Your dog is welcome to join you inside while you enjoy breakfast and a cuppa Bonafido Dark Roast. Best of all, a portion of all proceeds from retail purchases benefits dogs in shelters. After breakfast, take Fido to The Dog Dive for some winter swimming. Whether he’s in need of low-impact exercise, hydrotherapy or just has excess energy to burn, he’ll be treated to one-on-one attention at this indoor, heated pool. If your pup has an itchin’ to get his paws in the snow, head to Quinn’s Trailhead at Round Valley Ski Trails. Explore 30 miles of dog-friendly trails, some of which allow dogs off leash. And speaking of off-leash, Run-A-Muk Dog Park has 43 acres of Alpine terrain for your snow-loving friend to explore leash-free.

Book a stay at the Waldorf Astoria Park City, where you and your pooch can wrap up the day by your room’s fireplace. The hotel will welcome him with a comfy dog bed, bowls and fresh-baked homemade dog treats. Two dogs of any size are accepted for an additional fee of $100 per stay. Nightly rates start at $246.

7. Mammoth Lakes, CA

“Let’s keep each other warm.” Photo by @elvis_the_explorer

Settled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, just south of Yosemite National Park, is the resort town of Mammoth Lakes. Ski slopes, hot springs, and relaxing accommodations bring travelers from near and far to make the most of their winter vacations. With no shortage of dog-friendly places to play, it’s sure to be one of Fido’s favorite destinations, too.

Ample sunshine during the winter allows for plenty of outdoor fun in Mammoth Lakes. Try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in Inyo National Forest. Just remember to stay off the groomed trails with your pup. Rent all the gear you need at pet-friendly Get Outdoors 365. While you’re there, browse the selection of outdoor clothing and accessories, and then head to Mammoth Pet Shop so your canine shopaholic can get something for himself. After a day in the snow, take your tail-wagger to Tailwaggers for a self-service bath in their fully-equipped grooming center. End your evening with a flight of beer at Black Doubt Brewing, where your mutt can join you inside the tasting room.

Book a pet-friendly cabin at Tamarack Lodge Resort, situated on the shores of Twin Lakes. Tamarack is Mammoth’s most secluded resort, so you’ll feel miles away from the world around you. Sit on the front porch with your best bud and sip hot chocolate while admiring the lake and mountain view, or grab a blanket and a good book and enjoy the flickering fireplace. Two dogs up to 100 lbs are welcome for an additional fee of $30 per pet, per night plus a $200 refundable deposit. Nightly rates start at $229.

Where will you travel with Fido this winter? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by Mark Rose.