Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Dog parks in RV parks: Good idea or no?

By Terri Nighswonger
I recently asked a question on our RVing with Dogs Facebook group about RV parks with fenced pet areas and received several interesting responses. I haven’t stayed at any parks with a fenced area for dogs, but many others have. My dog does very well off-leash, so I’m happy with some green space, poop bags provided for pickup and a trash can. But our Facebook friends had some different ideas…

Ed Mays said he doesn’t stay at an RV park unless it has a dog park.

Others are like Debbie Peterson Jenson, who said her vet recommends not going to dog parks so she and her dog walk a lot.

Dawn Ellen Miller agreed. “We don’t let our dogs play with random dogs in parks (my dogs play rough and there’s too much chance of injury). If the park is empty, though, we might indulge in some off-leash play.”

Others weighed in on how many dogs parks were available during their travels.

“I would say at least half do [have a dog park],” said Bill Henry. “We very rarely use them because they are either off in one corner or are just a fence around a patch of dirt or weeds. Most seem like an afterthought just so they can advertise they have a dog park, even if it isn’t usable.”

Deborah Mason said she thought maybe 25–50 percent of parks they stayed at had them, not including state and national parks. “The biggest one was actually at LaPine State Park in Oregon. It had a huge fenced field, a couple of benches and a poop station. Many times we’ve seen the folks with the little dogs abandon their trip to the dog area because we were headed in that direction with our dog(s) who are both in the 55-75 pound range. They get along with most dogs but the ones with the little ones don’t want to risk meeting us. Oh, well.”

Christine Kramer thought around 25 percent had a fenced dog park based on their experience RVing between Ontario and British Columbia. “KOAs are usually good for fenced dog areas. Others sometimes advertise them but, in fact, do not have such an area. We are fanatic about picking up after our beagle and find most people at dog-friendly parks are the same. However, there seems to always be someone who doesn’t bother.”

Others agreed that KOAs were good places to find a dog park area.

“We stayed at the KOA in Grand Island, Nebraska, yesterday on our way to Wyoming. Their dog park was great! Clean and grassy! Our dogs had it all to themselves!” posted Janet Baker.

Tina Lipscomb also likes KOAs, “Not to play but because off-leash ‘business’ is so much faster.”

Here is a list of the top dog parks from tripsavvy.com if you happen to be in these areas.

  • Garden of the Gods RV Resort: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Evergreen Park RV Resort: Dundee, Ohio
  • Riverside Campground & Cabins: Big Sur, California
  • Lake Whippoorwill KOA: Orlando, Florida
  • Escondido RV Resort: Escondido, California
  • Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort: Foxborough, Massachusetts

From large dog parks to boarding, dog-friendly trails, dog pampering and more, these top RV parks are the cream of the crop but if you are headed to a destination and don’t know what is available, be sure to call ahead, find out the rules and see if there are any breed restrictions.

Right now, my dog could use a good space to chase a ball, but we will have to wait for some time at the beach.


  1. Cherry Hill Rv Park near DC has 2 dog parks. One has an agility course in it. That is fun to train an old dog some new exercise. The campground also has a dog friendly nature trail that circles the park. Finally, they have a reliable and responsible pet walker. We have used her services several times. She will walk and feed our dogs if asked to do so. She always leaves a note about their walks and how the dogs did.

  2. We have rescue dogs who do not do well with other dogs. One is terrified of large dogs (ours are all small), one becomes VERY aggressive (he’s a whole 10 lbs. of fury), and the third one thinks she is queen and boss of all dogs. Not exactly a warm welcome for any playmates. We use campground dog parks, but only when we are the only ones in it. If those big dogs mentioned in an earlier post head for the park, we turn back. There’s a good reason and it has nothing to do with the friendliness of their dogs. If nothing else, the screams from our terrified little one will draw the attention of every person in the entire development. She makes a siren sound quiet!

  3. Nothing wrong with dogs in a park. What is wrong are the irresponsible owners who allow dogs to bark constantly, make their messes on other people’s lots and don’t clean up after them. THAT is the problem!

  4. We are fortunate to have a seasonal site at a campgrounds that just built a very good size dog park.It is actually divided into three sections,one for entrance and then split into large and small dog areas, with everything a dog owner might need. We are lucky enough to be able to see the park from our site on top of a small hill. So we only use it when no other dog owners are using it.And yes there is a disadvantage of hearing the noise and barking when some unhappy dogs are using the area. We try to use it as much as we can and will not if some else is there, to try to keep the noise to a minimum and to avoid any disruption and confrontation and to try to keep peace and quiet in the campgrounds. Unfortunately there are some dog owners that don’t understand it and think that all dogs get along with each other. Even after you tell them that your dog was abused before we gave them their new forever home and that they don’t feel the same way about that all the time.

  5. Most RV parks have gravel areas that are pee and poop stations not parks. I use them if I don’t want to walk around the park. But if I am in an area for more than a night or two I find the local dog park and take them there to run. At one park the “residents” don’t like to have any other dogs in the poop stations with their dogs, some not even don’t want you standing outside the fence. Not worth the hassle, just take a walk.

  6. My vet recommends that I NOT use dog parks. There are too many owners out there that don’t vaccinate their pets properly and the dogs are carrying communicable diseases that my dog could contract. I tend to be overly cautious in getting my purebred Sheltie properly protected with shots for parvo, distemper, etc. And I definitely don’t want to have to deal with those diseases since I travel a lot and go all over the country on my traveling adventures.

  7. This is a great topic! We are building an RV Campground right now and a dog park WAS in our original Business plan. HOWEVER, after speaking with many other Campground owners AND our insurance agent, we decided to pass on it. The breed of dogs, the liability, the dog fights, the dog owners fighting, getting the Vet involved, the Sheriff involved, AND needing to be ADA Compliant, had us decide not to build one.
    We will have plenty of walking trails and doggie bags and trash receptacles for our guests instead.

    • One of the campgrounds I stay at frequently is building their dog park this year. They are making it a rule that only one family can be in the park at a time. That way, the only dogs interacting are ones that already live together. It is a critical need as their current “off leash” area is immediately adjacent to a state highway! They know there will be disputes as they have been in the business for a very long time and are prepared. They are also using my suggestion of one way in/out so that there is only one access point for someone to keep an eye on when using the park.

      • What is the use of a dog park when dogs can’t socialize? I have been taking my dogs to dog parks since I hit the road and that is the fun of it. Seeing the dogs interact. Only a few times have I ever seen issues and those were pit mixes and undisciplined dogs. Those dogs don’t usually come back or if they do everyone else leaves.

  8. “Four Paws Kingdom” in Rutherfordton, N.C. is the best for dogs! Not only do they have a large fenced in running area for Dogs, they also have an entire Doggie “Obstacle Course” and a pond for Dogs to swim in! They used to give obedience training, for a fee. The owners have changed and I am not sure if they still do that. But it was the best Dog oriented park we have ever been to.

  9. My dog is twenty pounds and old, he doesn’t play with other dogs but will run with them. If there is no area to walk him and the park is empty I will let him loose in it. It gives us both more exercise if I walk him and he seems to enjoy that more.

  10. We travel with 4 medium sized dogs. They tend to play rough, so we only use dog parks when they are empty. We never just set them free. We walk the park looking for anything dangerous, like chicken or pork bones (we often find them). We look for piles of poo that have been left behind (one of ours will want to eat it). And holes they can trip in when they run. Only when we are sure it is safe do we let them off leash to do zoomies around the place. Then we pick up what they put out and try to leave the place as clean or cleaner then when we got there.


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