Skip to main content

Dog-Friendly Winter Vacations

When the snow flies, it’s time to dust off your skis or snowshoes, pack your dog’s cold-weather gear and make tracks for wintertime fun.

by JoAnna Lou
January 8, 2014
dog and woman running in the snow
Photo: Arina Dmitrieva / Pexels

Your pet wants you to read our newsletter. (Then give them a treat.)

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 appropriate protective gear, both of you can enjoy the pleasures of the season at some very hot cool spots. 

Telluride, Colo.

It’s hard to beat the dog-friendliness of Telluride, Colo., 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 access 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. In addition, three pet-friendly trails — River, Jud Wiebe and Bear Creek— start right from town. The latter is an easy hike that rewards those who make it with a view of a fantastic waterfall.

Lake Tahoe, Calif.

While you can’t take dogs on the official ski slopes, at Lake Tahoe, Calif., 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. 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, Ore.

The slopes at Mount Bachelor near Bend, Ore., are off-limits to canines, but the ski mountain teamed 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. Winter is a good time to visit — during the summer months, the sand is too hot for paws.

Northern Ver.

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, and on-leash dogs are 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.

Related articles

JoAnna Lou

JoAnna Lou

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