When the nights get warmer and the days are longer it’s time to go camping! And what better camping companion than furry, four legged best friend But where are the best places to camp with your dog and how can you Leave No Trace while you’re at it?

There are lots of different places we can camp, many of which we can bring our pups along! From state parks to national forests, private campsites to dispersed sites there are so many options each with its own set of pros and cons and dog rules.

National Parks: While most national parks do not allow dogs on their trails, many still allow your dog at campgrounds. For example if you want to stay at a national park, keep in mind that for many places dogs must be leashed at all times, even while at your campsite.. Additionally, you should consider the weather and whether or not it is safe to leave your dog in the car while you enjoy the sights and trails at the park. If you’re unsure whether or not dogs are allowed visit nps.gov to find out or call the campground beforehand to clarify.

State Park: State parks are a great option if you are looking for campsites that are a reasonable rate and include amenities such as water, electricity and bathrooms. As a bonus, unlike national parks most state parks are dog friendly as well! This kind of campground is likely to be busy and may attract more dog owners, which may be good to keep in mind if you have a pup that is reactive towards other dogs. No matter how much your dog likes other people or pets, always be mindful of others and do not let your dog approach other campers or their pets without permission.

Private Camping: Private campgrounds usually offer a full array of amenities and electric hookups but often at a steeper price. These campgrounds are usually reserved, which is great for those who want to be sure they have a spot rather than try their luck at first come first serve campgrounds. Leave No Trace advice: plan ahead and prepare and make reservations several months in advance whenever possible to ensure you can get a spot at your preferred campground.

Dispersed Campsites: National forests as well as Bureau of Land Management areas include a mix of established campgrounds and dispersed camping. Dispersed camping areas are outside of established campgrounds and are a great option for those looking to give their pets a little more freedom as leashes are often not required in these areas. There are no amenities provided in dispersed camping areas, which means no trash cans. That said, Plan Ahead and Prepare and bring a smell proof container so you can easily pack out all your pet’s waste to the nearest trash can. Dog waste contains harmful bacteria that can pollute local water sources and should always be picked up and packed out no matter where you are camping. Additionally, before you let your dog off leash, be sure that they have great recall and will stick close to camp so that they will not chase or disturb local wildlife.

Camping is a great way to experience the outdoors with your pet!. Make sure to pick a campsite that works best for you and your pup and always check before your trip to see if your dog is allowed. Get out there, get camping and Leave No Trace.