From skijoring to dog-friendly igloos, these winter experiences prove it’s worth pulling on Fido’s winter boots, wrapping up warm, and embarking on a new adventure. Which one is on your pup's winter bucket list this season?
Posted by Billy Francis
Cross-Country Ski With Spot
Pack your pup’s earmuffs and ski boots and head to Tahoe City Winter Sports Park in California. A featured attraction in the latest edition of our book, Ruff Guide to the United States, this winter recreation complex allows you to cross-country ski and snowshoe with your canine companion in downtown Tahoe City, just steps from the shores of majestic Lake Tahoe. Furry extreme athletes can mush alongside as you navigate over two miles of wide open cross-country and snowshoe trails. Fido is also welcome to join you off leash as you explore 25 miles of superb Nordic ski trails at Methow Trails near Winthrop, WA. Practice your skills to prepare for the Doggie Dash event held every February, where dogs and their humans ski a short loop together in costume. Come to the trails for a day, or stay overnight in one of three dog-friendly Rendezvous Huts.
Check Into a Pet-Friendly Igloo
Igloos have become a super-cool, new-age travel destination. If you fancy adding an igloo stay onto your pup’s big European adventure, Iglu-Dorf offers the chance to stay in a snow home with your pooch from December through April. Dogs who want a taste of dome life without committing can reserve dinner in one instead. These restaurants welcome “pawtrons” inside for igloo dining.
If you’re looking to escape the desert heat, head to Mount Charleston for cool outdoor adventures with your pooch. Located less than an hour’s drive from downtown Las Vegas, Mount Charleston offers the chance to explore over 50 miles of hiking trails in a climate with temperatures averaging 20 degrees lower than Sin City. That means from November through April, there is snow on the mountain! The Bristlecone Trail is particularly great for snowshoeing, but the most popular wintertime activities are sledding, snowman building, and good old-fashioned snowball fights. In fact, there’s even a designated location for it at the Foxtail Winter Snowplay Area in Lee Canyon. Pups who love the white stuff can also catch freezing balls of snow in their mouths and immediately regret it at Wanoga Snow Play Area Sno-Park in Bend, OR.
Skijor and More
Skijoring is a great way to exercise and bond with your pooch while enjoying the jaw-dropping scenery all around you. Dogs of all breeds can participate, and most animals over 35 lbs are capable of pulling an average-sized skier. If you’d like to give it a try in the snow-covered Colorado Rockies, Louisa Morrissey of High Country Dogs offers private lessons and workshops at Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Start with an indoor session on training tips and dog care before heading out on the snow for a hands-on lesson on basic commands and techniques. Here are nine other places where you can skijor with your dog.
Cozy Up in a Winter Cabin
Spend some quality time with your canine in a cold-season cabin at Savage River Lodge in the aptly named city of Frostburg. Located within the 700-acre Savage River State Forest, enjoy a winter escape on the cross-country ski trails, or take a snowshoe expedition with Fido by your side. Minnesotan mutts can accompany you during a cabin stay at Gunflint Lodge, located 40 miles up the Gunflint Trail from the dog-friendly town of Grand Marais. In winter, the lodge offers a dog-friendly ski trail for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Elsewhere in the U.S., these winter cabins will even warm up short-haired hounds on snowy days.
Have a Whale of a Time
Starting around the middle of December, whales begin to migrate in search of warmer waters. You and your pup can embark on a scenic harbor cruise with The Fun Zone Boat Company in Newport Beach, CA, to try and catch a glimpse of whales on the move. For dogs who’d prefer to stay on dry land for the spectacle, make the trek to the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington for some fun in the sand and surf on over 28 miles of uninterrupted beach, then walk in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark on the 8.5-mile Discovery Trail, a paved oceanfront pathway stretching from North Long Beach to Ilwaco. Bring your binoculars along for some great whale watching opportunities from the North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment State Park, the area’s best viewing spot.
Pamper Your Pooch in the Powder
Do you want to snuggle with your pup next to a roaring fire while you watch the snowfall and sip hot cocoa in the ski lodge? Or would you rather spend the day on backcountry trails cross-country skiing or snowshoeing with your dog before retreating to a rustic cottage for s’mores by the fire pit and a dip in the hot tub? Do all this and more at a pet-friendly ski resort. Centrally located in Vail Valley, The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch offers a plethora of dog-friendly activities like in-room massages, dog-friendly guided snowshoe tours, and doggie room service. On the east coast, you can Bring Fido to New Hampshire’s Attitash Mountains for a dog-friendly winter escape at The Bartlett Inn. From the bed and breakfast, you can ski right out the back door on a connector trail to the Bear Notch Ski Touring Center, where pups are welcome on all the trails.
Bring Fido on a Keg Pull
Winter weather can bring the curtain down on regular sports, but one fiercely contested event is far better with snow on the ground. K-9 keg pull season is here, and there’s nothing quite like watching a feisty, four-legged friend surging through the snow with a keg or beer can in tow. Sign up your pup for races across the country, or grab a keg and start your own tournament with the neighborhood canines on a flat stretch of snow-covered grass.
What's your favorite pet-friendly winter activity? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!
Banner photo by Harrison Kaladimos.