Camping with the dog – seems like a logical fit. Who else in the family minds less sleeping on the ground, wandering stinky forest trails and peeing outside than your pup?
My dog Victor and I are giving it try in a few weeks – stay tuned for the results. That’s right, after years of travelling together we’ve never been tent camping. (Well, he has but with someone else).
Why are we tent camping? Because at Ontario Provincial Parks, dogs can’t stay in roofed accommodations like cottages and yurts (check out our adventures at Arrowhead Provincial Park).
However … that’s not true at many Canadian National Parks.
Parks Canada recently adjusted some regulations concerning dogs stays in oTENTiks, no doubt in response to demand. What’s an oTENTiks? Picture the love child of a tent and an A-framed cabin. Leave the gear at home – oTENTiks are complete with furniture, beds, dishes, cleaning stuff a and raised floor. Bring your own bedding.
Yes, you can stay at a National Park with your dog! To celebrate, we’re offering a contest.
First, here’s where you and your pup can experience some Great White North outdoor adventure:
1. Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan
If you dream of exploring prairie grasslands where bison once roamed in droves and don’t want to pitch a tent, you’re in luck. Located near the Montana border, Grasslands National Park is one of the largest protected prairie regions along the 49th parallel. It’s divided into two blocks – West Frenchman Valley Campground and East Rock Creek Campground – and there’s now one pet-friendly unit in each.
2. Thousand Islands National Park, Ontario
Finally, two of the five oTENTiks at the mainland Mallorytown Landing (units 3B and 3E) at Thousand Islands National Park are pet-friendly. That’s new since I toured the islands with my pup and stayed on houseboat – one of my favourite dog-friendly trips yet. Victor loved the islands. However, you’ll need a boat to get to any of the 24 islands designated as national parks, and there’s still no dog-friendly oTENTiks on any of them.
3. Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia
Arguably, the most pet-friendly on the list, Kejimkujik National Park – or Keji to locals – has many accommodations for you and your pup. Three oTENTiks are designated ‘pet friendly,’ plus dogs are welcome in any of four rustic cabins and one specific yurt. Many accommodations have wood stoves. This park also has the greatest diversity of reptiles and amphibians in Atlantic Canada and is home to ancient petroglyphs and Mi’kmaq culture. Trails in the back country are open to dogs too.
4. Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick
Love bogs, lagoons, salt marshes and 25 km of white sand dunes? Then Kouchibourguac National Park might be the experience for you – and your dog. Two oTENTiks are dog-friendly (ask for #75 or #82) and located at the South Kouchibouguac Campground close to the beaches and 60 km of the park trails.
5. Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland
Good news. There are five oTENTiks at Terra Nova National Park available for dogs, four in Newman Sound and one at Malady Head. But your visit will be impacted by the fact Fido isn’t allowed on either the beach or boardwalk at Sandy Pond, near the visitor’s centre.
6. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
If I ever get to Newfoundland and Labrador with my crazy terrier, I’m staying here. And not only because Gros Morne National Park is an UNESCO World Heritage site with one of the world’s best examples of continental drift creating the province’s second tallest mountain and freshwater fjord. But because there’s a new dog park as part of the upgrades to the Berry Hill Campground.
The park might be necessary, however, because dogs are not permitted on Gros Morne Mountain (even on a leash). Apparently, they stress wildlife. On the flip side, the new Berry Hill rustic cabins (no running water) with furniture and wooden covered porches all allow pets.
7. Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site, Alberta
Brace for something different: you and your pup can camp like a trapper – without the trapping, of course – at the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Site (rather than National Park). According to Parks Canada, you can immerse yourself in the trapper lifestyle. Camping fee includes a Fur Trade Camp Kit: bison hide, period cooking kit and utensils, blow tube and flint/steel fire-starting kit, bannock mix, trapper’s tea, spices, oil and soap. The tipis, trappers’ tents and even the trap-line cabins are all pet friendly.
As promised, here’s the CONTEST. Have you ever camped with your dog? Where? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. One reader will be randomly drawn to win the Canadian National Parks Prize Pack ($80 value):
- one copy of National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of Canada (affiliate link)
- one copy of National Geographic Guide to the National Historic Sites of Canada (affiliate link)
- one camo ‘toque’ for you and a travel water bowl for your dog
- one $25 (Canadian) PetSmart gift card to buy some stuff you need
Deadline: July 15, 2019. Open to U.S. and Canadian entries.