Fido in the Forest: 5 Dog-Friendly Campsites in Minnesota

By Sidewalk Dog

Dog in a hammock by Instagram user endeavorsofego
Photo by Instagram user, endeavorsofego

Minnesota-bound travelers are in for pup-loads of fun when you head into nature, so why limit your outdoorsy adventure to just one day? The North Star state is jam-packed with campgrounds, dozens of which are dog-friendly. This paves the way for you and your furry companion to enjoy a tented night or two amidst Minnesota’s abundant parks, trails and 10,000 lakes.

But before you and Mittens start exploring these dog-friendly Minnesota campsites, a few woofs to the wise:

  • Keep your pup on a leash at all times.
  • Make sure your campsite and surroundings are left cleaner than when you arrived (no pile left behind), and don’t let your pooch disturb other campers.
  • When hiking around the grounds and nearby parks, obey the signs and stay on dog-friendly trails.
  • Pack plenty of fresh water for you AND your four-legged BFF—when you’re thirsty, your dog probably is, too.
  • And while sharing your weenie roast with Fido is part of the fun of camping, keep him out of the s’mores stash.

Without further a-doo, here are some of the pup-lovingest camping spots in Minnesota.

Fergus Falls

Dog sitting in front of a tent
Reggie the dog, by Bridgette Jaquith

With easy access to the Central Lakes Trail for walking and biking with your pup, Swan Lake Resort and Campground is your dog-friendly hub for outdoor recreation. This spot is located on the spring-fed Swan Lake, where you and your pup can bask in the sun and work on your tan lines together (don’t forget your doggy sunscreen to protect your pal’s nose). There’s also an on-site game room, plus all manner of things to do in nearby downtown Fergus Falls, so you won’t have to go far for kibble or a break from the great outdoors.

Stay in one of their amenity-loaded cabins (three of the five cabins are dog friendly!) or ruff it in a tent in one of their 15 large campsites. Either way, you and your furry companion’s vacay will be well-spent in this lovely northwest Minnesota locale.

Duluth

Fond du Lac Campground is a cozy Duluth gem where you and your floppy-eared friend can immerse yourselves in Minnesota’s natural beauty. Located along the majestic St. Louis River (the largest tributary to Lake Superior in the U.S.), Fond du Lac is home to more than 40 species of freshwater fish and over 200 bird species. That’s a lot of creatures for your canine to sniff out and befriend.

Cast your reel from the campground’s fishing pier, or BYOB (boat) and take advantage of the site’s fantastic water access. If fishing doesn’t wag your tail, consider a bike ride with your pup into town on the nearby Willard Munger State Trail. For a picture-perfect end to your ride, enjoy a patio-pint with your pooch at one of Duluth’s many dog-friendly dining options.

Brainerd

Mickey the dog, by Tarrae Weatherman
Mickey relaxes at the campsite, by Terrae Weatherman

Gull Lake Recreation Area sits at the outlet of a gorgeous chain of lakes, so naturally this campground is the top dog when it comes to water-related recreation. The lake’s crystal-clear water is abundant with walleye, bass and more, making this an excellent spot to kick back and catch a few fish with your favorite furry angler. The clarity of the water also makes for excellent, worry-free swimming.

Gull Lake is also home to several Native American burial mounds which have been estimated to be almost 3,000 years old! The mounds are believed to have originated from the Woodland American Indians and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Pick up a brochure from the park office for information about the burial mounds, and view them from a distance while exploring Gull Lake’s dog-friendly hiking trail with Rover.

As you trek, you might also catch a glimpse of the local wildlife, including deer and bald eagles.

Apple Valley

Bella the camping beagle, by Amelia Blise
Bella the beagle, by Amelia Blise

Looking for places to pitch your pup-tent in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area? Well, you’re in luck, because Lebanon Hills Campground is just minutes away from both downtowns. For city slickers vacationing with your pooch, Leb is the best of both worlds: rustic campgrounds, world-class outdoor recreation, and easy access to all of the Twin Cities' more urbane charms. Get you a campsite that can do both.

This campground features extensive hiking trails through lakes, woods and prairie, and as an added bonus, the neighboring Lebanon Hills Regional Park has some of the metro’s best mountain bike trails. The close proximity to all that the Twin Cities has to offer—did someone say dog-friendly patios?—makes this spot a bark-worthy bookend to an action-packed day in the city, or simply a pup-tastic day spent lounging with Patches in the hammock.

Zumbrota

Shades of Sherwood Campground and Waterpark (yes, you read that right) puts the bark in barkreation (unfortunately, you read that right too). Located along the Zumbro River, this destination has amenities for days. Plan ahead and bring a human friend to dog-sit at your campsite while you check out the water park. Afterwards, there’s plenty there for your pup to enjoy, too.

You might find yourself hanging around the campground’s picnic tables and building yourself a fire in one of the provided rings, or you could explore the nearby hiking and bike trails. This campground also offers tons of special events from spring to fall, so be sure to check their website for up-to-date info.

Sniffing out the perfect Minnesota campground for you and your pup has never been easier! Use our interactive directory to find more dog-friendly campgrounds in Minnesota and start planning your vacation today.


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Sidewalk Dog is the #1 resource for Minnesota dog owners, bringing you everything you need to enjoy life with your pup: dog-friendly patios, off-leash parks, events and so much more. Learn more at SidewalkDog.com.