Planning a ski trip is an exciting process. Where will you go? How long can you stay? How many vertical feet will you rack up? Where will you stay? But... What about Fido?
He's currently making the "sad puppy-dog face" at you because he thinks you're leaving him at home...
It can be disheartening, looking at your best four-legged friend and realizing that it's probably best if he stays home because, let's face it -- there are many places where Rover can't follow.
However, take heart, my canine-loving friend. There's no reason that you can't bring Spot with you on your next ski vacation. The outdoor fun calls to our dogs as much as it does us in these dog-friendly ski towns. So while Lassie might not be making turns with you, there's no reason that your co-pilot can't enjoy a bit of pampering and play in these dog-friendly ski towns.
Durango, Colorado is a quintessential dog-loving town. According to the Durango Humane Society, more than 1,000 dogs are registered in the City of Durango--with a population of about 17,500, that's about 1 dog for every 17.5 people. The town has done plenty for its four-legged residents, from opening the 24-acre Durango Dog Park to featuring four-legged friends in bronze sculptures scattered around town.
Well-behaved dogs (and their owners) can visit a number of Durango businesses for a treat including Jitters' Java, Maria's Bookshop and Southwest Sound. Durango Bagel will even treat your pup to a slice of Canadian bacon. When strolling downtown, there are plenty of water bowls outside of retail shops to quench his thirst.
2. Catskill Park
At Emerson Resort & Spa, located near Belleayre Mountain, in New York, not only will you and your dog be able to explore the Catskills, but you can also pamper your pooch with the PupGrade Package. For a flat rate of $50, in addition to the $35 a night standard pet room fee, your dog will enjoy a basket filled with bottled water and gourmet dog treats; water and food bowls on a placemat; a doggie bed for use during your stay and a $10 donation to the Ulster County SPCA will be made in the name of your pet as a special little karmic gift. A complimentary dog walking service is available upon request, but you'll probably be too busy roaming the area to take advantage of that particular service. Also nearby is Catamount Dog Park, which your dog can enjoy when he's tired to hanging out with you.
For canine-loving Canadians, Whistler is the place for you and your pup. With plenty of dog-friendly amenities, this town features an outdoor lifestyle that is perfect for four-legged friends. In the winter, explore the Valley Trail from Meadow Park to Rainbow Park on cross country skis or snowshoes. There are also dog-friendly ski and snowshoe trails in Whistler Olympic Park. When you end your day, check out the high-end digs like the Fairmont Chateau (the Furrmont Club provides special perks for pooches), but there are plenty of budget-friendly places that also welcome dogs.
The folks in Whitefish, Montana love their dogs almost as much as they love the Big Mountain. On the Whitefish Trail, dogs can be off-leash to explore the more than 30 miles of single track as long as they're under voice command. At Stillwater Nordic Ski Center, there's 12k of dog-friendly terrain where pups can run and owners can skate ski. If more mellow fun is in order, check out Hugh Rogers Wag Park, named in honor the beloved Whitefish veterinarian.
Aspen might be one of the most dog-friendly ski towns in the United States. With miles of dog-friendly trails including the Smuggler/Hunter Creek Trail, Ute Trail and others, Aspen is the Promised Land for pooches. From stores that sell gifts like homemade dog cookies to restaurants and local banks that have amenities specific to dogs traveling with their owners, Aspen is so dog-friendly that if you didn't bring yours, they'll loan you one.
True story: Those traveling without a dog have the opportunity to "borrow a dog for a day" from the Aspen Animal Shelter, when available. A portion of proceeds goes towards the operating costs of the shelter.
Several hotels go above and beyond in Aspen to cater to your Catahoula. At the Limelight Hotel, dogs are offered complimentary pet amenities such as doggie bowls and placemats. There are also logo'd amenities for purchase so that the guys at the dog park at home know where you've been. The Viceroy Snowmass resort welcomes pets with a gift bag containing a Viceroy leash, waste bags, Viceroy bandana, cookie treat and a K-9 menu.
If that's not enough, how about learning a new skill on vacation? The pet-friendly St. Regis Aspen, has partnered with a certified professional dog trainer to assist in training guests, and their dogs, in the art of skijoring. Skijoring, which originated as a Scandinavian winter sport, is where athletes (or you) are pulled on skis by a horse, dog or motorized vehicle. You'll do a lot of the work, cross-country skiing through the snow, but you'll be attached to your dog with a harness and tow-line.
It brings a new meaning to "earn your turns" for both you and Spot.
Dog-friendly in the summer...
This is just a run-down of dog-friendly ski towns in the winter. In the summer, many resorts extend an open paw to puppies--places like Mammoth, Stowe, and the Sea To Sky Gondola in Squamish, British Columbia allow dogs to enjoy the sweet views from the gondola during the summer months. So feel free to soak up the sun in the summer and be sure to take Fido along for the ride.