The 8 Best U.S. Road Trips to Take With Your Dog
These are the perfect car rides for you and your canine companion.
No matter what time of year it is, jumping in the car for a road trip can make for some of the most memorable travel moments. But if you've got a canine companion, choosing to take a long drive can be one of the best ways to get on a vacation with your furry friend. After all, the ease of jumping into your own vehicle is a leg up—or four—on taking any other kind of getaway with your pup that involves boarding a train or plane. Having the freedom to chart your own course, make your own schedule, and pull over for a game of catch whenever you want arguably makes it the easiest way to travel together. Read on to see which road trips in the U.S. experts say are the best to take with your dog.
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Oregon Coast Highway 101 (Oregon)
Whether it's built by habit or happens by luck, humans tend to have a lot in common with their pets. Fortunately, this can be a huge help when selecting travel destinations.
"There are few things in this world that bring such mutual, primal joy to humans and canines alike as the ocean," Adam Marland, travel writer and photographer for We Dream of Travel, tells Best Life. "There is something about having your feet (or paws!) in the sand and tasting that salty air that just makes you feel alive."
"Highway 101 traces the Oregon coast from border to border, providing jaw-dropping scenery adorned with monolithic sea stacks, tide pools, unspoiled wilderness, and plenty of assorted natural wonders," he says. "What's more, nearly the entire coastline offers state or local parks with camping and facilities, making it the perfect place to road trip without an itinerary."
And there's no reason your pet can't enjoy themselves, too. "Dogs are allowed anywhere on the beach, so you never have to worry about bringing your faithful companion along for a walk," Marland adds.
The Beartooth Highway (Montana)
Stunning mountain vistas and wide open spaces can work wonders on the human psyche. But according to experts, it can be just as enlightening for your dog to enjoy the same settings along with you during a road trip. That's where a drive through Montana can come in handy.
"The Beartooth Highway, which runs 68 miles between Cooke City and Red Lodge in Montana, travels through some of the country's most breathtaking scenery," Erin Mastopietro, owner and founder of Dope Dog, tells Best Life. "Twenty peaks that reach above 12,000 feet are passed along this road, one of the highest in the lower 48 states."
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Lake Tahoe (California)
Sometimes, taking a trip with your pet is as much about getting them into nature as it is about finding a place that welcomes them into top-notch human establishments, as well. Lake Tahoe provides the perfect blend of an outdoor getaway with plenty of town-based activities that both of you can enjoy.
"Just a 90-minute drive from Sacramento and a 3.5-hour drive from San Francisco, Lake Tahoe is located in the Sierra Nevada and makes the perfect Northern California road trip to take with your dog," Gigi Chow, co-owner and operator of dog travel website Wet Nose Escapades, tells Best Life. "With an abundance of outdoor adventures and gorgeous scenery, it's also a fantastic dog-friendly destination."
"From dog parks to dog-friendly shopping areas (like The Shops at Heavenly Village) to dog-friendly live music venues, you'll never fall short of fun activities to do with your pet. Although you can't bring your dog inside the casinos here, there are plenty of eateries and breweries with dog-friendly seating," she says. "There are also perfect scenic hikes for you and your dog—including Lake of the Sky Trail, Mt. Tallac, Tahoe Rim Trail—and beaches where canines are allowed, like Kiva Beach, Thomas F. Regan Memorial City Beach, North Zephyr Cove Beach, Fallen Leaf Lake. You can even kayak with your dog around the beautiful blue water."
Seattle and the San Juan Islands (Washington)
The Pacific Northwest is a paradise for outdoor lovers, no matter what species they happen to be. And in Washington State, one day trip popular with humans is sure to be a hit for any canine copilots.
"A road trip that combines Seattle and the San Juan Islands is a great choice to take with your four-legged friend," Larry Snider, vice president of operations of Casago Vacation Rentals, tells Best Life. "From Seattle, you'll drive about 80 miles to Anacortes, Washington, where ferries depart for the San Juan islands. There are lovely parks to explore here before you even board the ferry. Then, hop on the ferry (with your car!) and head to Orcas Island. Dogs ride free on the ferry and will have a blast with this new experience. Once there, you can hike, swim, and adventure around."
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Lake Coeur d'Alene (Idaho)
Idaho offers plenty of wide-open spaces that make for epic drives. But if you're looking to break up the landscape, one natural landmark makes for a beautiful dog-friendly destination.
"One of the best road trips to take with your furry friend is through Idaho's Lake Coeur d'Alene," Nick Mueller, travel expert and director of operations of HawaiianIslands.com, tells Best Life. "The beautiful body of water unfolds over 26 miles with more than 135 miles of shoreline. You can take scenic boat tours and hike on pet-friendly trails during your time here. It's a gorgeous way to spend time with your pup!"
Denver to Grand Canyon National Park (Colorado and Arizona)
Seeing the Grand Canyon tops many peoples' bucket lists for a reason: The epic views and sprawling grandeur are breathtaking. But if dogs could make bucket lists of their own, experts say they'd probably put it on theirs, too.
"Which outdoorsy dog wouldn't want to accompany you to the Grand Canyon?" says Jenny Ly, travel blogger and founder of Go Wanderly. "You'll see several national forests along the steep road. Go to Colorado's White River National Forest to explore the Flat Tops Wilderness, where your dog is free to roam. Alternately, travel south through the Rio Grande and San Juan National Forests, stopping for a stroll. Keep your dog on a leash and stay on the South and North rim pet-friendly trails when visiting the Grand Canyon to ensure you follow all park regulations."
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Niagara Falls (New York)
There are plenty of perks for people who want to visit Niagara Falls. Besides the genuinely breathtaking natural wonder, there's also plenty to see and do in the surrounding area on both the Canadian and American sides of the border. And if you happen to bring your dog along as you finally check seeing the Falls off your to-do list, there's a good chance they'll enjoy themselves as well.
"A road trip to Niagara Falls should be on every dog owner's list," Sherry Arkfeld, author of Digital Nomad and a Dog, tells Best Life. "The state park is very dog friendly and a great place for dogs to explore. There are many restaurants nearby that allow dogs on the patios. My dog didn't appreciate the waterfalls too much, but she sure did enjoy the park. You can also walk over to Goat Island and Three Sisters Island for more views for you and more things for your dog to sniff."
St. George and Moab (Utah)
If you want to get the most out of enjoying the outdoors with your pet, it's best to consider the places where they'll be welcome. Fortunately, Utah's vast wilderness provides plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the sights with your dog.
"I highly recommend a road trip with your dog to/from St. George and Moab, Utah," Whitney Woolstenhulme, founder of dog grooming website DoodleDoods, tells Best Life. "Nearly the whole geographical area between these two locations is comprised of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, which is public space that can be used for all kinds of dog-friendly recreational activities. For example, you can dry camp in a tent or RV for free, explore a variety of beautiful terrain, including slot canyons, you can use your ATVs or mountain bikes, and go rock climbing. And of course, you can legally let the dogs run wild and free to their heart's content."
Just make sure you pick the right season for your drive. "The best time to embark on such a road trip is in spring or fall when daytime temperatures are bearable, and it's not terribly cold at night," she suggests.