Dog-Friendly RV Camping

Gibraltar Resevoir Dam

Taking your dog (or dogs) on vacation with you can be a really great experience. You can be sure your experience is enjoyable is doing your homework in advance before deciding on an RV campground. Research all the information about the RV campground you are interested in. You need to find out if this RV park is really a dog-friendly RV camping resort.

You also need to find out if this RV Park has any dog breed exclusions. This way you can ensure your dogs will be welcome at this campground. Find out the park’s rules for dogs as these may vary depending upon the RV park. Being dog-friendly does not mean your dog can run free, bark all night and fight with other dogs. Your dog will need to be socialized and friendly and not bark at night.

Dog putting his head out the window of an RV - dog-friendly rv camping

You will also want to be certain that there are plenty of activities that you and your dogs enjoy. If you like hiking then determine if the park has trails. Most California State parks do not allow dogs on the trails. Here are the rules for California State parks regarding dogs.

However, National Forest trails are fine for dogs as long as they are leashed. If you plan ahead, you should be able to find a campground that has hiking trails nearby that are dog-friendly. If the trails are within a National Forest, then you can be certain about those.

Some parks also have pools, volleyball, tennis, pickleball, and other activities. When packing for your trip be sure you bring more than enough dog food for your dogs.

Also pack their dog bowls, leashes, collars, or harnesses. In addition, you should bring proof of rabies and other vaccinations. Pack your tennis rackets, volleyball, or pickleball paddles and balls, depending upon which you enjoy most.

Oakzanita Springs

This RV park is in Descanso, California, which is in San Diego County. This has always been one of my favorite campgrounds. They have very nice campsites with full hookups for your RV. We also enjoy pickleball so we usually play it every day after breakfast while at Oakzanita Springs. This campground also has nice hikes, not really long hikes but enjoyable with beautiful surroundings.

When we are at Oakzanita Springs, we usually eat breakfast while determining which hike to take in the afternoon. After breakfast, we play pickleball for an hour or so. The hikes we enjoyed the most were in the Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. This location has great hikes and is only about a half-hour drive from the campground.

These hikes were longer and really quite beautiful! One I especially enjoy is the Dessert View Trail. From parts of this trail, you can see the desert while hiking in the mountains at around 6,000 feet elevation. It’s particularly striking when there’s snow on the ground where you’re hiking and desert views off to the side.

Person with dog looking at beautiful view - dog-friendly rv camping

We usually go to this RV park over the Thanksgiving holiday and take 3 extra days off to make the trip longer. We choose this time of year because the weather is nice and cool, and sometimes cold. A few times when we went on this trip there would be snow on the ground or even snowing. Another reason we choose this time of year to go is that the trails and the campground are less crowded, which makes for a more enjoyable trip.

These hikes really tired out our dogs and us. But they are always enjoyable.

Rancho Oso RV Campground

Rancho Oso is another campground we also enjoy going to. This campground is north of Los Angeles in Santa Barbara County. This park is quite a bit larger than Oakzanita Springs. This park has pickleball, swimming, and plenty of great hikes nearby.

We have gone to this campground during different seasons, most of which are nice except for summer. Summer is too hot for hiking so that is not our favorite time to go.

However, the times we did go to Rancho Oso during the summer, we would also get on a couple of trips to the beach as it was not too far to drive and if the weather is hot, the beach is the best choice. It’s always much cooler by the ocean, so we still could get in our walking for the dogs. The beach was Goleta Beach, slightly north of Santa Barbara.

Another hike has been on was actually just outside Santa Barbara so not that far from the coast, which would make it cooler. It is also mostly in the shade and right next to a stream so the dogs could get wet in the stream to cool off if they got too hot.

One thing that is very important no matter where you hike, is to be sure that you have enough water for your dogs and something they can drink water from easily. When the weather is hot, dogs will need more water, and so will we but it’s most important for the dogs.

Our favorite hike while at Rancho Oso is the Gibraltar Dam hike. Much of this hike is in the sun so if it is a hot day it is not a good idea to do this hike, especially with a dog. Many years ago there was a lot of water around this hike, however, as there has been a drought in California for the past several years, there may not be as much water for dogs to cool off if it is very hot.

Gibraltar Resevoir loop train near Rancho Oso RV Park - dog-friendly rv camping

This is a loop trail so you can hike this trail in two different ways. It is definitely much better to start the trail where it is pretty level, with a gradual elevation increase. This is a much nicer way to go as it has more shade and if there has been enough rain, plenty of water.

However, if you start the trail and find yourself going up a very steep climb in the sun, I would recommend that you go back to the start and go the other way. If you go this way, you will be going downhill when you are finishing the hike and it won’t be as difficult or hot.

Final Thoughts

There are many other dog-friendly parks in California as well as in other states. RV camping is a great way to spend a vacation with your dogs. Here are some more RV parks to visit throughout the United States. Some of these parks even have agility obstacle courses, lure coursing, and dog parks within the RV park.

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