Camping with Dogs in the San Juan Islands

by | Jul 16, 2021 | Blog, Explore San Juan Island | 0 comments

A dog’s life is full of riches: humans who love me, birds and tennis balls to chase, bones to munch, and lots of soft places to take a midday snooze. But, I am not just a house dog—I am also a travel dog. 

I LOVE to ride in the car, especially with the windows down. I can’t get enough of the wind whipping past and flinging my ears back. You should see the smile on my face! Nothing is more thrilling than seeing the trees go by from an open window, and thinking about all those sticks for me to fetch. I really have it great!

But, for as many car rides as I’ve taken, I hadn’t ridden in a car on a ferry boat until my humans took me with them on a summer camping trip to Lakedale on San Juan Island. Talk about double cool! 

Not only does the island love dogs like me (there are a few dog parks and some shops in Friday Harbor have water bowls on their sidewalks. A handful of the restaurants even permit pets in their outdoor seating areas), but also Lakedale has places to stay for guys like me! A $35 pet fee applies, and camping is the best option in the summer because there are endless acres for me to sniff, romp, and explore. For humans who prefer indoor accommodations, they can bring their dogs to stay with them in the Log Cabins or Lake House, but you’ll find me in the campground guarding the whole grounds. Bonus: There’s a small selection of dog items at Lakedale’s General Store!  

Dogs rule (and dog rules!):

  • Keep me close and on a leash (unless you’re staying during “Leash-Free Lakedale” October through May)
  • Pick up after me
  • Before you leave on our camping trip, make a laminated card with my photo on it, vaccination record, health history, and contact info. Make sure my microchip and tags are up to date

I really like to go camping because there are so many smells to go after. My humans seem less distracted when we’re camping and are more focused on me, which is THE best. I love the extra belly rubs. The whole family seems happier, too, which makes my tail wag even harder. 

If you’re thinking about bringing your dog with you to Lakedale, don’t forget the essentials: leash, poop bags, and treats (emphasis on treats, of course). It’s also helpful to have portable food and water bowls, a safety light collar, a first aid kit (for all of us—just in case), and a doggy bed or doggy sleeping bag. Yes, doggy sleeping bags are a thing! I’m just the messenger. 

After all that sniffing and chasing and exploring, I’m going to be wiped come nightfall. The wildlife alone—owls, birds, fish, foxes, deer—will be so exciting, I won’t even have to leave the property to stay busy!     

I’ve heard rumors that some humans like to surprise their dogs with a new toy to make the vacation extra exciting, and I happen to think that’s a great idea, so if my humans are reading this: I promise I will act like it was all your idea and be super surprised! 

At Lakedale, there are 30 campsites and a variety of camping options—from RV to classic campsite and family campsite. The campground is usually open April (weather-permitting) through the end of September when the team is excited to welcome both four and two-legged guests alike. 

From open, grassy fields to the three lakes, I know I will be in heaven soaking up the sunshine while I laze around on the dock, have fun leading the way along tree-laden pathways, and cooling off in the refreshing water after a long day of fetch or exploring San Juan Island with my humans.

I’m so excited that Lakedale invites dogs along because missing out on the fun is a big bummer. There are several advantages to bringing me with you: 

  • No one loves me as much as my humans do
  • It’s not my favorite when strangers come to my house and feed me or take me on walks. It is just not the same without my people at home
  • I will enjoy the extra attention from both my family (and other dog enthusiasts) since no one is consumed with work or busy schedules like when we are home
  • I get cabin fever, too! Just like humans, pets benefit from new experiences, sights, and smells.

Not all dogs are handsome, charming, and well-behaved, so a note of caution for people considering bringing dogs to Lakedale who aren’t me: Consider your dog’s personality and plan your trip accordingly. Some dogs like lots of excitement and noise, but some of my friends prefer a low-key adventure. If you are uncertain how your dog might adapt to new surroundings, take them on a few day trips or picnics before you head out on a campout. Enjoy your time at the lakes! If you see me, I’ll be the guy happily sniffing pretty much everything while in a full-body wag.

Aussie photos courtesy of @laducb on Instagram 


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