6 Dog-Friendly Winter Vacations · The Wildest

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6 Travel Destinations For Dog-Friendly Winter Fun

It’s time to dust off your skis and snowshoes, pack your dog’s cold-weather gear, and let them (safely) jump headfirst into a snow drift.

by JoAnna Lou
Updated December 9, 2022
dog and woman running in the snow
Photo: Arina Dmitrieva / Pexels
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The air is crystal-clear, the snow is fresh and white, and the opportunities for fun are abundant. Don’t let the season’s colder temps keep you and your dog at home. With a little preparation and the appropriate protective gear, both of you can enjoy the pleasures of the season at some very hot cool spots. 

Telluride, Colorado

It’s hard to beat the dog-friendliness of Telluride, Colorado, where canine residents may outnumber the humans. The free transportation alone is a solid argument for making Telluride the number-one winter destination for dog-accompanied adventures. Most gondola lifts allow dogs only in the summer (if at all), but the Telluride/Mountain Village Gondola provides canine access to ski slopes and hiking trails as well as spectacular aerial views. The town’s shuttle service, the Galloping Goose, also welcomes leashed dogs.

Poop-bag stations can be found on many street corners and in Telluride Town Park, which allows off-leash play, and Main Street is lined with bowls of water for visiting pups. Many Mountain Village restaurants and shops have pet-friendly policies. In addition, three pet-friendly trails — River, Jud Wiebe, and Bear Creek — start right from town. The latter is an easy hike with a rewarding view of a fantastic waterfall.

Lake Tahoe, California

While you can’t take dogs on the official ski slopes, at Lake Tahoe, California, they’re a common sight in backcountry ski and snowboard areas. If you’re not into off-piste (skiing on snow that hasn’t been compacted into tracks), Northstar offers moonlight snowshoe hikes after the lifts close for the day, and dogs are welcome. For Nordic ski fans, the Hope Valley Outdoors Cross-Country Ski Center has dog-friendly trails. Less active pups and their people can head over to Borges Sleigh and Carriage Rides in South Lake Tahoe, which allows dogs on their equine jaunts.

Sun Valley, Idaho

More than a decade ago, the North Valley Trail System at Sun Valley, Idaho, was one of the first Nordic ski centers in the country to allow dogs on their groomed trails. Today, more than 50 percent of North Valley’s skiers take their pups with them. Passes provide access to North Valley and two other systems with more than 60 miles of dog-friendly trails. There’s a small fee for a doggie pass — $5 for a day or $49 for the season. If you’d rather skip the trail pass, check out the Wood River Trail, a 20-mile paved path that connects Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley. Runners, bikers, equestrians, dog walkers, and Nordic skiers share this multi-use gem.

Bend, Oregon

The slopes at Mount Bachelor near Bend, Oregon, are off-limits to pups, but the ski mountain team created a dog park with a play area. Downtown Bend also features many dog-friendly places to walk, such as the Deschutes River Trail, complete with poop-bag stations. Volunteers with DogPAC, the local off-leash advocacy group, also groom and maintain the dog-friendly cross-country ski and snowshoe trails at Wanoga Sno-Park in nearby Sunriver.

If you get tired of the snow, head 16 miles east of Bend to the Oregon Badlands Wilderness area, where 50 miles of trails wind through prickly juniper plants and dry volcanic ridges. Then warm up with a hot meal; many restaurants in Bend are dog-friendly. As a bonus, Bend is known as both Dog Town USA and Beer Town USA, and seven local breweries allow dogs to hang out.

Northern Vermont

In northern Vermont, many hotels will arrange pet-sitting while you’re on the slopes, but the Phineas Swann Bed and Breakfast Inn at the base of Jay Peak Resort makes it easy with its “Pet Perfect Ski Package,” which includes lodging, breakfast (complete with a doggy bag, of course), lift tickets, and dog-walking services.

Down the road from Stowe Mountain, Topnotch Resort not only has dog-friendly cross-country ski trails but is also right across the road from the 5.5-mile Stowe Recreation Path, which is groomed in the winter for walking, jogging, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing — with on-leash dogs welcome. For off-leash fun, look for the Quiet Path, a low-impact extension on which dogs can run free as long as they’re under voice control. If your pup is feeling particularly athletic, visit Eden Mountain Lodge in Eden Mills. The lodge’s rental cabins sit on 140 acres, and skijor lessons are available for you and your dog.

Whistler, British Columbia

In Whistler, British Columbia, Whistler Olympic Park is the largest designated off-leash dog area in the Sea to Sky Corridor for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. There are seven dog-friendly snowshoe trails and 11 dog-friendly cross-country skiing trails, including several of which are wilderness, ungroomed trail options. Stay at a dog-friendly hotel such as the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and Summit Lodge.

JoAnna Lou

JoAnna Lou

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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