Dog-Friendly Ski Towns to Check Out This Winter
If you love to hit the slopes every winter, don’t think you have to leave your dog at home. From a dog-friendly ski lift in Colorado to snowy pet-friendly trails in Vermont, these eight pet-friendly ski towns cater to skiers and dogs alike.
High-end and snowy Aspen is a haven for winter-loving pet owners and their dogs. Uphill skiers and their leashed dogs are permitted at Snowmass mountain, while pet parents can hike Smuggler Mountain with their pups. The Aspen Snowmass Nordic Trail System also features dog-friendly trails like Labrador Lane, where you can ski or walk with your dog in tow.
After a day of playing in powder, dogs and their owners can stay at one of the city’s pet-friendly hotels. The Little Nell—perhaps the most famous hotel in Aspen—provides pet guests with personalized brass ID tags, pet menu selections, plush pet beds, a dog walking and sitting service, recommendations for groomers and pet-friendly hiking trails, and even a puppy jet lag kit for to help dogs adjust to the altitude. Pet parents and their dogs can also eat together at the hotel’s Living Room and Terrace Bar. If you’re searching for a bite to eat outside of your hotel, the Aspen Brewing Company is a local favorite for enjoying craft brews with your pooch beside you.
“Aspen is known as a pup’s paradise due to the plentiful parks, pet-friendly hotels, restaurants, and even local banks that have amenities specific to dogs traveling with their owners,” says Melissa Wisenbaker, PR representative for Aspen Chamber Resort Association.
Park City, Utah
Roughly 30 minutes from Salt Lake City, Park City offers pets and their owners a quaint main street, stunning mountains and dog parks aplenty.
“Park City is so passionate about its local canine residents that the unofficial name of the town is ‘Bark City,’” says Dan Howard, director of communications for the Park City Chamber of Commerce/Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Most Park City resorts are entirely pet-friendly hotels with special amenities for four-legged guests.”
One of those resorts is The St. Regis Deer Valley. The post hotel offers furry guests a St. Regis pet bed, ceramic pet bowls and a daily turndown amenity. Another option is the Waldorf Astoria Park City that gives dogs bowls and beds in addition to house-made dog treats engraved with your pet’s name. The Waldorf Astoria even offers 25-minute in-room canine massages.
Once you’ve left your hotel, consider heading to one of Park City’s dog parks. To get a true taste of winter go to Willow Creek Dog Park. There, you can spot ice skaters gliding across a frozen pond as your dog enjoys nearly two and a half acres of land to roam free or test his skills on an agility course. For a bite to eat, head to Deer Valley Resort’s The Grocery Café—one of the few freestanding restaurants on a ski resort where pets are welcome. Another notable place? The Dog Dive. At this spot, your pet can warm up with aquatic therapy or just take a dip in a heated, chlorine-free pool post-skiing.
About 40 minutes from the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is home to numerous mountains. Pet owners can stay in one of the pet-friendly cabins at the Ski Lift Lodge and Cabins, the closet lodging option to one of Flagstaff’s mountains, Snowbowl. Besides its proximity to the mountain, guests can enjoy wood cabins complete with patios where they can admire their surroundings with their dog beside them. Numerous trails near the lodge provides places where dogs and their owners can enjoy the snow, as well. Mother Road Craft Brewery features a pet-friendly patio, brews and complimentary pretzels.
“Flagstaff recognizes devoted pet owners traveling with mannered cats and dogs and eagerly welcomes them,” says Trace Ward, director of the City of Flagstaff Convention and Visitors Bureau. “A day of snow play in many parks, jogs on multiple scenic trails are options while knowing a dog sweater may be necessary. An après’-ski stroll through downtown will pleasantly surprise the pet traveler as fresh bowls of water and biscuits are affectionately offered.”
Sun Valley, Idaho
Visit Sun Valley declares this resort town a “canine’s Shangri-La” and the sheer number of activities available for pet owners and their dogs proves it. Pet owners can exercise in the snow with Nordic skiing or snowshoeing on trails throughout both North and South Valleys with their dogs. Each dog will need a pass that you can buy at most ski shops before you’re on the trails, however.
“Sun Valley opens its arms to dogs of all shapes and sizes,” says Ray Gadd, content marketing manager of Visit Sun Valley.com. “Countless residents bring their canine friends to work, shops often times have treats for pets, two hotels open their doors to dogs and there’s 400-plus miles of trails along with a specially designated dog park to keep them entertained.”
Modern and luxurious, the Knob Hill Inn gives guests sweeping views of Sun Valley’s mountains and offers a Wagging Tail Escape package that includes a bowl, canine first aid kit, waste bags and snacks. The hotel will also match a donation in your dog’s name of up to $25 to the local Animal Shelter of Wood River Valley. If you tag a photo of your dog using @KnobHillInn, you might even see your pet’s face pop up on one of the hotel’s social media accounts.
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Canada’s Whistler is home to Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski resorts in North America, and you can enjoy the ski town’s extensive trails with your dog. Cross country ski or snowshoe with your dog at Whistler Olympic Park, which provides dog-friendly access to more than 18 miles of cross-country trails and to more than 10 miles of snowshoe trails. Dogs and their owners also can wander the quaint streets of downtown Whistler Village—which is filled with shops and lit up around the holidays. Many of the shops will allow your dog inside; just be sure to ask before you head in. When it’s time to rest, consider staying at the luxurious Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler.
“Nestled at the foot of the Blackcomb side of Whistler’s twin giants, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler is just steps away from alpine meadows and pristine lakes where pets can play and enjoy the outdoors. At check-in, our furry guests receive dog bowls with bottled water, a treat and cozy pet bed,” says Christine Kim, public relations and communications manager for the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler.
Home to just over 4,000 people, Stowe is a tiny mountain town with two very pet-friendly resorts and an undeniable connection to skiing (Stowe is the birthplace for Nordic skiing—where the heel of the boot isn’t fixed to the ski—in the United States). The Stoweflake Mountain Resort & Spa is mere steps away from the 5.3-mile long Rec Path that winds its way through the woods, across meadows and even offers views of Stowe’s main mountain, Mount Mansfield. A select number of the resort’s casual and modestly-furnished guestrooms and townhomes are pet friendly. Most of the guest rooms are nearby walking paths, making it easy for pet parents to take their dogs out.
Visitors also can book a pet-friendly room at the luxurious Stowe Mountain Lodge, which sits at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort. There, you can take your dogs on the numerous ski trails surrounding the property (just not on the lifts) and although dogs are not allowed to be left in rooms unattended, guests can book in-room dog sitting services at the hotel.
“Dogs here can run off leash, go for hikes, swim in the rivers and lakes and get pampered at the Lodge. They are even allowed in our Upper Lobby, where guests eat, drink and relax by the two oversized fireplaces,” says Leslie Kilgore, director of public relations and social media for the Lodge. Kilgore suggests heading to nearby Smugglers Notch Road to hike with your dog in the snow. The road “is closed in the winter and becomes a doggie paradise,” she says.
About three hours south of Portland, Oregon, Bend’s Mount Bachelor attracts skiers from California and the Pacific Northwest. And pet parents should consider flocking to Central Oregon’s largest city, too.
Pet parents can stay at the Tetherow Lodges. This upscale hotel features sweeping views of trees and mountains and has a few pet-friendly rooms. Pet parents can book dog packages that include a dog bed, a dog bowl, locally brewed dog beer (yes, this is a thing) called Dawg Grog, and a chew toy. Furry guests and their parents searching for a more cosmopolitan experience can find it at downtown Bend’s The Oxford Hotel. This boutique hotel offers personal dog beds, two travel bowls—one is yours to keep—a map of dog-friendly trails and parks and samples of goodies like pet salve and dog treats.
When it’s time to hit the slopes, head to Wanoga Edison and Kapka Sno-Parks for dog-friendly cross country ski and snowshoe trails. Wanoga is often groomed for skate skiing and the 2.5-mile stretch of dirt road up to Tumalo Falls after the bridge (on Skyliners Road) is also left unplowed during winter months and dogs are welcome to join their owners on the trails.
Besides the extensive pet-friendly trails, Bend is also home to more than 40 dog-friendly restaurants. The Crux Fermentation Project brewery features a dog-friendly patio and is located near an off-leash dog park, so your dog can frolic after you’ve enjoyed brew pub fare ranging from bahn mi to a pretzel served with spicy beer cheese.
“It’s not uncommon to stroll past the city’s nicest dining spots and see dogs seated on the patio next to their owners,” says Tawna Fenske, communications and PR manager for Visit Bend. “The Bend Ale Trail has made Bend’s beer scene pretty famous, and dogs are welcome to join their owners on the patios of nearly all the city’s breweries.”
Surrounded by peaks that can tower as high as 14,000-feet, Telluride is a small mountain town with a historic feel, complete with Victorian-era homes and brick shops. And dogs are allegedly as plentiful as people here.
“The joke is: There’s a dog for every resident in Telluride. If you don’t have one, someone else has two,” says Tom Watkinson, director of communications for Telluride Tourism Board. “And I would say at least half, if not more, of the hotels are pet friendly.”
Hotel Telluride is a stone lodge that’s teeming with dog-friendly amenities. When pups and their parents arrive, they receive a flashlight dog clip, bandanna and homemade dog cookies, and have a bed, bowl, and a dog toy version of the hotel’s mascot, Wilson, waiting in their rooms. The hotel also donates ten percent of its pet fees to furry friends through Second Chance Humane Society. Guests also will get a coupon for the local pet store, Mountain Tails, and the option to receive a discounted one-hour photo shoot (extra fee) to be taken at some of the area’s favorite doggy/pal areas. Dogs can also ride the Telluride Mountain Village gondola with their pet parents as every third car is designated for pups. Best of all? This gondola is free. Take it up the mountain and enjoy time at the top with your furry friend.
Once guests venture out of the hotel, downtown Telluride is filled with pet-friendly shops. Those that don’t allow pets outside have “Puppy Parking” signs outsides for spots for pets to sit and relax while owners shop.
Teresa K. Traverse is a Phoenix-based writer, editor, traveler and dog mom to Chihuahuas Autumn and Rocket.