Top 10 dog friendly ski resorts
PLAY IN THE POWDER WITH YOUR POOCH AT THESE TOP SKI RESORTS IN THE WEST.
Written by Craig Romano; photography by Keoki Flagg
1. Whistler Blackcomb BRITISH COLUMBIA
With its diverse terrain, multitude of trails, immense area, mile-high vertical drop, and wide array of après ski amenities, you’ll be hard-pressed finding a ski resort grander than Canada’s Whistler Blackcomb. No surprise either that this top notch winter sports destination has been chosen to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Ski venues. What may surprise you however is that Whistler is perhaps the dog friendliest resort in the West as well! In fact, it’s the top dog when it comes to doggie catering ski resorts.
According to Tourism Whistler, "Nearly 10,000 people live in Whistler and almost all of them have dogs. Whistler is not only pet friendly, it's dog crazy!" And more than a handful of village accommodations (thewagway.com) are more than happy to host you and your hound. Even the posh Fairmont (fairmont.com/whistler) welcomes dogs.
And some lodges really welcome them. When your pup checks in at the Crystal Lodge (crystal-lodge.com), she’ll be treated to her own bed, blanket, towel and welcome biscuit.
No need to worry about your whippet while you head off to the slopes, for Whistler is teeming with doggie day cares. The new Dog’s Paw and Mountain Hound Lounge (mtnhoundlounge.com) is located in the Telus Conference Center right at the foot of the ski slopes. Aside from sitting, Dog’s Paw also offers grooming to pamper your pooch while you mash the moguls. whistlerblackcomb.com
2. Sun Peaks Resort BRITISH COLUMBIA
Just north of Kamloops in British Columbia’s interior, plenty of powder snow and ample sunshine await you at the Sun Peaks Resort. With over 120 trails on three mountains, Sun Peaks boasts having the third largest skiable terrain in all of Canada. And you can bring ole Yeller out cross-country skiing with you here. The Nordic Center’s long and scenic McGillivray Lake Trail is open to dogs.
According to Ashley Tait, director of communications at the resort, Sun Peaks has a wide selection of pet-friendly accommodations including the stylish Delta Sun Peaks Resort (deltahotels.com) in the main village center.
At the Delta, visiting dogs are given special treatment -- from a friendly welcome to a package of gourmet dog treats, to specially designed pet-friendly rooms. "As someone who has stayed at the Delta with my own two large dogs," states Ashley, "I can honestly say the rooms are especially provided for guests traveling with their furry companions -- and the rooms are gorgeous." sunpeaksresort.com
3. Fernie Alpine Resort BRITISH COLUMBIA
Out in the Canadian Rockies, your snowbound hound will feel welcomed as well, especially at the Fernie Alpine Resort. Of course you’ll enjoy Fernie too; being that this former-mining-town-turned-outdoor-recreation-haven was recently named number five in Skiing Magazine’s listing of the Top 25 Resorts in North America.
The Fernie Lodging Company offers dog-friendly suites in both its slopeside lodges; Snow Creek and Timberline (fernielodgingco.com). Now while your snow munching German shepherd will have to sit out while you take to the slopes he may be comforted to know that some of his four-legged brethren are busy working on the mountain. Fernie is the home to a number of CARDA (Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association, carda.bc.ca) training dogs. skifernie.com
4. Crystal Mountain WASHINGTON
Washington’s largest downhill ski resort, Crystal offers good cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as well. Every Saturday the resort offers guided snowshoe tours into Silver Basin, a beautiful backcountry area. A tasty fondue dinner is served in the base area lodge after the tour. Your intrepid pup is invited to accompany you whether he fancies to fondue or not. Call (360) 663-3040 to reserve your spot. For cozy accommodations for you and your cuddly Chesapeake Bay retriever consider one of Mount Rainier Vacation Rental’s cozy cabins (mtrainiervacationrentals.com). skicrystal.com
5. Mount Baker Ski Area WASHINGTON
The Northwest’s snowiest ski area, Mount Baker offers some of the best terrain around. But what about your husky; will he find Baker to his liking? According to marketing director Amy Trowbridge who owns a schnauzer, he should. Amy’s dad, ski area manager, Duncan Howat had his trusty border collie, Jojo by his side for many years while on the job. "Jojo was legendary," she says. "He practically ran the ski area!" Amy adds, "People love bringing their dogs here and we love seeing them out playing around. They’re allowed in the backcountry ski and snowshoeing area and they’re welcome around the main base area if well-behaved."
The little burg of Glacier at the base of Mount Baker is a huge dog town according to Trowbridge. Dog-friendly accommodations there include the pleasant Glacier Creek Lodge (glaciercreeklodge.com) and cozy Mount Baker View Guest House (mtbakerviewguesthouse.com). mountbakerskiarea.com
6. Methow Valley WASHINGTON
With over 200 kilometers of groomed and interconnected trails, the Methow Valley in Washington’s Okanogan County boasts the second largest Nordic ski trail network in America. A myriad of trails tie the communities of Winthrop, Twisp and Mazama with adjacent preserves, ranches and national forest lands offering skiers varied terrain amidst outstanding scenery. Maintaining these trails is the Methow Valley Trails Association; and like a growing number of other Nordic ski associations, they’ve opened a handful of trails to dog accompanying skiers.
Currently three trails (Lunachick, Big Valley, and you gotta love this one, Cougar Bait) totaling 13.5 kilometers are dog-friendly. And there’s no shortage of dog-friendly lodging in the valley ranging from economical in Twisp; The Blue Spruce (bluespruceintwisp.com) and Idle-A-While (idle-a-while-motel.com), to fancier in Winthrop; the Virginian (virginian-resort.com) and Cascade Inn (winthropwa.com). mvsta.com
7. Mount Bachelor OREGON
Blessed with ample sunshine and snowfall, Oregon’s Mount Bachelor offers some of the best skiing in the Northwest. In the shadow of the volcano’s excellent downhill runs are some mighty fine Nordic ski trails as well. The Mount Bachelor Ski Resort (mtbachelor.com) maintains over 50 kilometers of groomed trails where you can find some open to your winter wonderland weimaraner.
There is no shortage of dog-friendly lodging in nearby Bend. But one of your better options is to stay at Sunriver (sunrayinc.com) just south of Bachelor. Here you can choose from a multitude of cabins and condos in this pet-friendly resort which has its own veterinary and grooming clinics.
Want to meet some hardworking dogs while your buddy stays cozy back at the cabin? Consider taking a dog sled ride at Bachelor’s Trail of Dreams (800-829-2442). Owned by Jerry Scdoris and his Iditarod mushing daughter, Rachael, you can arrange for a dog sled ride with the option of helping to care and feed the sled dog team. Your little buddy might be jealous of the ordeal so best not to go barking about the experience! mtbachelor.com
8. Diamond Lake OREGON
Dogs may not be allowed on Crater Lake National Park’s ski trails, but at nearby Diamond Lake they’re warmly welcomed. The rustic resort high in the Central Cascades has over 10 kilometers of groomed and 75 kilometers of ungroomed cross-country and snow shoeing trails. And your intrepid setter is allowed on nearly all of them. She’s welcome to spend the night with you too, in the resort’s main lodge or cabins. diamondlake.net
9. Squaw Valley USA CALIFORNIA
Like Whistler, the village at Squaw Valley at Lake Tahoe is a bone-a-fide dog town! A wide array of lodges at Squaw welcomes your pooch and they’re even allowed to ride the gondola during the summer months. An absolute must stop for coddled canines is the Tails by the Lake (tailsbythelake.com), a specialty shop for cats and dogs. Located right in the village, this unique store is the main sponsor of the annual Art Bark Fest, an arts and wine festival for pets. Held in mid-September activities include live music, animal themed art, pet contests, fashion shows and more.
In South Lake Tahoe you can take your buddy on a sleigh ride (sleighride.com) with you. At the Hope Valley Cross Country Ski Center (hopevalleyoutdoors.com) south of Tahoe, you and your pooch can go schussing together. And on the north shore, Tahoe City’s Tahoe XC (tahoexc.org) has 8 kilometers of dog-friendly trails.
A number of dog-friendly lodges can be found in the Lake Tahoe area; Fireside Lodge (tahoefiresidelodge.com) and the Inn at Heavenly (innatheavenly.com) among them. Four-legged guests are often provided with their own bed, water bowl, feed bowls, treats and toys at these accommodations. squaw.com
10. Sun Valley IDAHO
One of the oldest and swankiest ski resorts in the West, Sun Valley is quite popular with the fur wearing sect; and not just the two-legged ones. Over a decade ago the North Valley Trail System (bcrd.org) began allowing dogs on their groomed ski trails, becoming one of the first Nordic Ski Centers in the country to do so. And they didn’t just designate a trail or two; they devoted an entire 30 kilometers worth over to the dogs. A wise decision indeed for today, over 50% of North Valley’s skiers take their dogs along with them. Sun Valley continues to expand its dog-friendly terrain with over 70 kilometers of the North Valley-Woods River-Galena Lodge trail network currently open to them. sunvalley.com
About the Photographer: Over the past 15 years Keoki Flagg has developed his unique photographic perspective while shooting national editorial photography for Ski and Skiing Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal, Vogue, Powder, Audubon, Outside, Sports Illustrated for Women, Warren Miller and VISA USA. In November of 2003, Flagg and international art dealer, Mark Steingard, opened Gallery Keoki, located in the Village at Squaw Valley.
About the Author: Craig Romano is an outdoor writer and author of several guidebooks including Best Hikes with Dogs: Inland Northwest.