Imagine sending five days dog-friendly camping in a tiny house surrounded by forest in North Carolina with little more than a stack of books, full fridge, wine and your dog. Plus, there’s leash-free dog zones outside your door. Sound good? Read on.
Yes, I could have spent a week home with my dog and two cats ‘vacationing’ with reading material, a tv, and my laptop, but it’s not that easy. Cheaper, but not easy.
Inside a home, even a small home, so much of the day can be spent puttering. There’s always something to clean, fix, update … towel racks to secure, paint to update, new window sills installed but never actually painted. Your life is in your face daily.
My solution is simple: leave for ten days and spend five of them in an even smaller house, on a dog-friendly campsite, in the rural forest of Rutherfordton, North Carolina.
4 Paws Kingdom is a campground for dogs who like to travel with their people (somebody’s got to drive the car … or RV). You can rent a site, a trailer, cabin or the piece de resistance: Barley, the ‘tiny house’ otherwise known as camping for snowflakes. There’s a shower, toilet, satellite TV, WiFi and air conditioning. That last one proved important in July.
Sure, there’s still puttering to do in a rented cabin – dishes, cooking and sweeping (so much sweeping) – but nothing major. Days in the woods of reading, writing and dog walking. Yes, dog walking, and leash-free running and pond diving and agility course racing … which Victor didn’t do.
Where can you camp with your dog in North Carolina?
You got the idea; this vacation is about the dog. Specifically, my cocker-cross Victor checking out the canine-centric campgrounds of 4 Paws Kingdom in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Four Paws Kingdom is like Disneyland for dogs; and every well-loved high-energy mutt needs to get there at least once in their lives. Or become regulars, as some RV-lifestyle loving people are. Some living nearby even park their rigs all season and make this a weekend escape. Why?
Well, I finally understand the appeal of family theme-parks catering to every need of the toddler: it’s easy for little people parents. Similarly, 4 Paws Kingdom makes everything easier for pet parents:
- Five fenced in leash-free zones, including Victor’s favourite with a pond, and a private one for less personable pups, sites with fenced dog runs
- Poop stations every few feet and water bowls underneath hoses in every run
- Dog baths at two heights in an air-conditioned room make clean up much easier
- An under-utilized short wooded hiking trail connects to play zone areas and adjacent wire fence keeps pups from running into wildlife. Maybe it’s the dog scent, but surprisingly few squirrels or rabbits venture into view keeping the distractions low.
Traffic is only slow-moving trucks pulling into sites or golf carts shuttling staff around. There’s a calm here midweek that’s unexpected. My previous, albeit limited, experience with campgrounds in my youth was more ruckus, which honestly turned me off campsites for years.
4 Paws Kingdom is ‘adults only.’ No pool or screaming kids. And no one who doesn’t love dogs. If you don’t love dogs, don’t bother showing up. Here or anywhere. (Kidding … not really).
Admittedly, the one damper of the week is the heat. It’s slightly unseasonable hot even for North Carolina in July and my 12-year-old black cocker-cross is feeling it. I’ve mentioned his unbridled energy level before, but it seems thanks to noticeable aging the past few months, it’s waning.
Victor does run like mad in the main leash-free dog park the first day we arrive (after spending days in the car and a day leash walking through Asheville). But he’s significantly less energetic in the days to come, and spends noon to 4 pm sleeping in the comfort of our air-conditioned cabin.
Also, getting him to drink enough water is a challenge, thought there are water-bowls and hoses scattered throughout the property (again, another dog-centric convenience).
Watching precious pets age is difficult and we’ve skirted several health scares this year. While many shorter local road trips are still in our near future (stay tuned!), this is likely our last major journey lasting more than week.
I’m happy to cross 4 Paws Kingdom off our bucket list but a little bitter-sweet at the thought.
Don’t worry, we’re not done yet. There’s still more on the list to conquer (and a few we’ve already completed to write about), even if Victor’s turbo is slightly gearing down.
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[…] Although, the next time I take Victor to Woodhaven Country Lodge in Ontario cottage country or 4 Paws Campground in North Carolina, it’s coming with […]
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4 Paws Kingdom sounds awesome. I had no idea there was such a thing for only dogs. I think it’s great. A great place to put on a bucket list. Yes, definitely take it easy this time of year in the heat. It’s no joke. It’s nice to see a place just for the pups.
It’s an easy place to decompress. Being able to open the front door and let the dog run out (because there’s a fence around the cabin) was ideal. Beats a hotel room on the 16th floor first thing in the am….
Sounds like a wonderful place for dogs! Not really a fan of camping, I could, however, totally camp like this – I’d be the “snowflake” in the little house with the amenities, and know my pups would not be bored!
Exactly, it wasn’t really camping when you can go inside, close the door, and watch TV. I cheated a little….
I’ve never heard of a dog-centric campground. What a great idea! I’ve done a lot of camping with dogs in regular campgrounds, usually in the spring and fall when the bugs aren’t bad and it’s a lot less crowded. I wonder what our dogs did before we had air conditioning and fans to keep them cool?
Like me, my dog would have hated no air conditioning. Less crowded is good for sure.
This seems like such a fun place for dogs! I especially like the idea of having leash free zone for dogs to roam and explore, which they love.
There were four leash free spots – one ‘private’ one. If you got there first, you flipped the sign which meant it was your turn to have it all to yourself. I was good for dogs who might have issues with other dogs.
That part was essential to making this work….
This looks like so much fun! I love your pictures too- adorable doggie!
It sounds like a lovely way to spend some time away from home! We usually go tent camping once a year and have to hike or canoe in. Frankly, I prefer a cabin to a tent, so we try to rent a house or cabin every other year too.
Tent camping is ambitious … good for you.
How cool! I wanna go camping with my dogs now!!
I recommend it especially if you need some down time.
The campground where we used to go didn’t any special facilities for dogs but was friendly and had lots of walking trails. A nearby national park actually has a “Pet exercise area,” with a lot of places to walk and a couple of beaches. Still wondering why “PET” exercise area. Never saw anybody walking their Bearded Dragon or anything like that. LOL
Good point about ‘pet’ – what else would you walk? I wouldn’t take the cat if there’s dogs there. Where was the campground you stayed at? Always looking for more travel places…
Oh My Dog, this is a fabulous place!! It really is like Disneyland for Pet Parents. I was never a fan of camping because I just can’t sleep outside on the ground and not have a place to bathe LOL!! A cabin in this beautiful place would be heaven for us and our dogs, it’s going on MY bucket list now, thanks so much for sharing. I shared on my social channels!
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
The cabins and ‘tiny house’ I stayed at have showers in them. Also, the bathroom facilities for the camp sites are individual bathrooms with showers you get to yourself so … it’s much better than some ‘communal’ bathrooms I’ve seen at campgrounds. Very easy to slow down here and no complaints about the dog was heavenly….
Oh I’ve heard of this place before! Super dog friendly. Looks like a canine paradise. I’d love to stay here sometime with Mr. N.
I only found out about it this year on FB. Headed down before my dog got too old to make the trip.
sounds like so much fun for you and your dog! I love the idea of hanging out in a tiny house. (I’m absolutely a snowflake camper lol.)
I’ve got to have a bathroom
What a fab holiday location, I love that they have fenced in areas. We often take our dogs away with us, but I do worry about one of them as she will charge off into the woods at the sight of a squirrel, she has always come back to us, but I must admit my heart pounds until she returns! I’d definitely opt for the house, I am a camping snowflake ;o)
The house was the best. Off leash runs are a must for my dog otherwise it’s not a vacation (or fun) for him or me.
My wife and I have gone camping with our dogs several times, and each time all of us had a blast! We’ll have to check this place out!
I recommend (especially midweek) it because it was so much easier being around dog people.
I totally understand what you mean. When I’m at home on my days off, there’s always something to do around the house. So I prefer going somewhere and unwind for a few days, not think about all the things that should be cleaned and done around the house. This place looks like a heaven for doggies!
I simply can’t ‘vacation’ at home.
We have stayed in a similar cabin with our dog a couple of times. She’s definitely enjoyed it as did we. This sounds like a fun place though we also have a human daughter so will have to skip it until she’s older.
The no kid thing surprised me… it’s quite the niche: adults with dogs only.
That is a lovely place to visit. I loved seeing the pictures and wish I was closer.
Love the ‘dog house’ picture especially. Imagine being there as night falls, a glass of wine……..
Glass of wine? I went through two bottles….
This place sounds like heaven, wow would I love to disappear there for a week or two and just relax. You are right, we putter in the house when we do stacations whereas this is different in so many ways. Great article and going to keep it in mind
That’s what I did – just hung out for five days. First time I’ve ever done that (oh, I wrote a few blog posts too)
Sounds like a lovely place to vacation! We’re taking our boys camping this fall, once the weather cools down. I just don’t do heat, and neither does my Alaskan Klee Kai. We stay home in the ac for the summer than get all our camping, hiking, etc in when it’s nice and cool! I wish this place was closer to us, I’d check it out.
I’m beginning to think camping is best done in the fall too. Might steer clear of the heat next time.
I would love to go someplace like this!! I can’t believe Oregon doesn’t have these, as we are such a dog-state! It looks like you had so much fun, and making it all about the dogs is so awesome. I love camping with my pups, but having a bath tub and other amenities would make life so much easier. Thank you for sharing this!
The bath was a life saver – especially when I had to wash the algae from the pond off my dog.
Disneyland for Dogs….BOL! That says it all. The pictures are delightful, and I love that it’s adult only and gone completely to the dogs.
It’s all about the dogs – one couple had five