Dog Friendly Activities in Colorado
by Emily Kremphotlz
There’s no shortage of activities and attractions in Colorado, but it’s always a bummer when you’re forced to leave your four-legged family members at home. Luckily, Colorado is one of the most dog friendly destinations around, with more and more canine companions in cities, suburbs, and rural areas throughout the state. Colorado has been named the #1 most dog-loving state in the country by Rover and Match.com, and it’s in part due to the massive number of activities, events, and businesses that allow and even encourage furry guests, as well as some gorgeous and amazing scenery to keep both dogs and their friends active, healthy, and inspired.
In Colorado, there are plenty of breweries and even restaurants with gorgeous outdoor patios that welcome dogs, and even some breweries that don’t serve food where dogs are allowed indoors. Enjoying a pint with your pup is a fun way to spend a meal or an afternoon with your human friends, and your dog will not only love the Colorado sunshine, but most likely also enjoy some attention and collect lots of belly rubs from staff and other patrons. A list of dog-friendly breweries can be found here, with specifications on whether dogs are welcome inside the brewery or just on the patio.
The Rocky Mountains provide a stunning backdrop to any vacation, weekend trip, or daily commute through most of Colorado, and exploring these mountains is a massive draw for locals and visitors alike. If you and your dog are looking for a new setting for your daily walk, or you want to get out and discover some of the beauty of the Rockies, you’re in luck, because lots of Colorado’s many, many trails are dog friendly. (Note that National Parks in Colorado do not allow dogs in the backcountry or on any of the trails) But the beauty of these mountains is something we all must take responsibility for, so dog owners should keep in mind that leash laws are in effect on most trails. These laws are for the safety of other people and dogs as well as to protect the natural flora and fauna of the area, which is often delicate and easily destroyed by dogs and owners going off-trail. Also, it’s important to clean up after your dog, which means bringing poop bags and packing it out with you. As tempting as it may be to leave the smelly bags on the side of the trail so you can “come back for it later,” it’s important to take it with you so you don’t forget. There are plenty of adorable doggy backpacks on the market, so you can even make your dog carry his own waste--and snacks and water--if you don’t want to!
After an exhilarating day spent hiking, many dog owners like to pitch a tent or relax under the stars with their furry friends. Dogs are great camping companions that can help owners feel safe and keep them company on solo camping trips, or serve as a warm cuddle buddy on chilly mountain nights. Check regulations before you leave for a camping trip to see if you need to register your dog in any way at the campsite, and bring supplies like blankets, food, water, and poop bags to care for your dog while you’re out in the wild. Keep in mind that your dog should stay on leash to limit interactions with wildlife (which could be dangerous for your dog as well as for wild animals), and to be respectful of other campers who may be nearby. If your dog is new to camping, be sure to monitor their temperament, because not all dogs are well-suited for the rugged life, and a camping trip might turn out to be very stressful for them.
Maybe you’re not an outdoorsman or camping enthusiast, but you’d still like to get outside and spend some time with your dog. The state is full of gorgeous town and city parks with paths for walking dogs, and Colorado’s collection of dog parks varies from small, urban off-leash enclosures to some massive areas full of hills, rocky terrain, and even rivers, lakes, and other water features. One notable example is Cherry Creek State Park’s Off-Leash Dog Area, which has over one hundred acres of flat fields and a fun, shady creek for splashing, jumping, and paddling. Another very popular dog park is in Durango, with over six square miles of enclosed off-leash terrain that includes a creek, the slope of Smelter Mountain, and trails for both humans and dogs.
Throughout the year, towns, businesses, and other organizations host a plethora of events all around the Centennial State, and many of them welcome canine companions as well as their human counterparts. Some events are even pet-centric, and visitors are encouraged to bring their pets to participate. There are many 5Ks, races, and other running events in Colorado that include or benefit dogs, like the Lucky Mutt Strut (sponsored by MaxFund, a local shelter), the 2-mile Doggie Dash which is sponsored by Boulder’s Humane Society, and the Dumb Friends League’s annual Furry Scurry. Other canine-themed events include the annual Rocky Mountain Dog Expo, the Colorado Rockies’ summer Bark in the Park event, and the Doggie Plunge, where dogs can go for a swim and enjoy a variety of water toys while humans indulge in some of the offerings from delicious local food trucks, all to benefit Freedom Service Dogs of America.
No matter what you decide to do, Colorado will keep you busy, and you’ll have fun knowing that it’s time well spent with your best friend.