13 Best Dog-Friendly Lakes to Splash Around in With Your Pup
Any day at the lake is a day well-spent, but as pet owners know, everything is more fun when your dog can tag along, too. As soon as they spot (and, more likely, smell) the water, many pups love to gleefully zoom around on the sand, splash their paws in the water, and snooze in the sun afterward. They just might meet a playmate to romp around with, too.
As you start planning your next big adventure with your pooch, add a few of these dog-friendly lakes to your itinerary.
Safety Tips for Taking Your Dog to the Lake
Before you—and your dog—jump into the water, it's important to keep his wellbeing in mind. Here are some tips for a fun (and safe!) day at the lake.
- Remember that dogs can get sunburned, too. Pack along some specially formulated dog sunscreen to prevent roasting.
- Even the best doggy paddler can get tired while swimming at the lake—and you may not be close enough or quick enough to give him a breather when he needs one. A properly fitting life jacket is a must for a swimming dog, and be sure to encourage your dog to take regular breaks to rest and drink some (fresh) water.
- If the lake is near a campground, remember that previous campers may have left behind food scraps, including some that are not safe for dogs (like onions from last night's burgers!). Do a quick perimeter check to look for any random snacks your dog may be tempted by, and throw away anything you find. Other pup parents will thank you, too!
- While you're scoping out any lingering food scraps, also keep your eyes peeled for hazards like broken glass or sharp metal edges.
- If you're boating with your dog, make safety your top priority. Make him wear a life jacket and a floating leash in case he ends up in the water, and bring a non-slip mat for him to stand on. Also keep in mind that some dogs get motion sickness or just simply don't enjoy the loud noise, so consider staying on shore if that's the case.
What to Bring to the Lake For Your Dog
If there's one thing all pup parents know, it's that you've got to be prepared for anything and everything when out and about with your dog. Some must-bring gear for the lake include:
- A fully stocked doggy first aid kit, complete with tweezers and antiseptic wipes, just in case.
- A dog tent or portable awning to give him some shade when he needs to take a break.
- Training tools, including a clicker and treats, to reinforce good behaviors at the lake.
- Plenty of clean drinking water in a dog water bottle.
- Poop bags (for when he inevitably does his business on the beach).
- A bandana for looking dapper and impressing all his newfound lake friends.
- If it's an overnight or multi-day lake vacation, enough food to last the duration of your trip.
13 Dog-Friendly Lakes
Once you're prepped and packed, you're ready for a day in the sun—and in the water.
1. Union Reservoir
Your pup is guaranteed to make friends during a trip to Union Reservoir in Longmont, Colo. This large body of water—which offers views of the Rockies—has a special off-leash area where your pup can run and swim to his heart's content.
2. Lake Mead
Head east from Las Vegas and you'll bump into Lake Mead (which, despite what the name suggests, is actually a reservoir created by the Hoover Dam). Pets can hike, swim, romp around on the beach, and go pretty much everywhere else within the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.
3. Lake Tahoe
You'll find a handful of dog-friendly beaches at Lake Tahoe, the massive freshwater lake that spans the border between California and Nevada. Pups love frolicking around on Kiva Beach, located on the lake's southern shore, as well as at Regan Beach, which even has a dedicated dog water park area.
4. Jackson Lake
Dazzle your friends and family with postcard-worthy photos of you and your dog in front of Wyoming's majestic Tetons while exploring Jackson Lake. It's located inside Grand Teton National Park, where pups can ride on boats and, within the national park more broadly, hang out at campsites and picnic areas.
5. Lake Michigan
Thanks to its proximity to major cities like Chicago and Milwaukee, Lake Michigan is one of the most easily accessible of the five Great Lakes. As such, it's a popular vacation destination for travelers and their four-legged friends—especially during the warm, breezy summer months. Dog-friendly beaches at Lake Michigan range from Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore on the lake's eastern shore to Chicago's Montrose Beach on the west side.
6. Lake George
Nestled among New York's Adirondack Mountains, Lake George offers a relaxing respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life, particularly for people living in New York City, who can reach the lake—with their dogs in tow—in about three hours. Dog-friendly Lake George options include the unofficial Lake George Dog Beach, an area between Million Dollar Beach and Lake George Steamboat Company along Beach Road. Or, your pup can get out his zoomies at the Lake George Dog Park.
7. Lake Metigoshe
Head up north—way up north—to spend a week splashing around in the refreshing waters of Lake Metigoshe in North Dakota. Located inside Lake Metigoshe State Park, the lake is incredibly dog-friendly and there's even a designated off-leash doggy play area right on the water.
8. Great Salt Lake
Utah's majestic Great Salt Lake is an idyllic place to camp, hike, take a boat ride, and ride horses. As you plan your doggy-and-me trip, know that there are myriad dog-friendly Great Salt Lake places to explore—pups can go anywhere within Great Salt Lake State Park as long as they're on a 6-foot leash.
9. Boyd Lake
Show your pooch how much you love him by visiting Colorado's Sweetheart City, aka Loveland, together. Right on the edge of town is Boyd Lake State Park, where your pup can accompany you on hikes, boating and fishing excursions, overnight camping trips, and more. Again, just make sure he's on a 6-foot leash.
10. Washoe Lake
Situated just 35 miles northeast of Lake Tahoe in Nevada, Washoe Lake is perfect for long weekends and day trips with your dog. Pets are welcome throughout Washoe Lake State Park, as long as they're on a leash whenever they're near picnic areas or campsites.
11. Sawmill Reservoir
Tucked high in the Rocky Mountains of Breckenridge, Colo., Sawmill Reservoir gives your dog a place to cool off—and gives you a gorgeous view. Get a little exercise in, too, by making the 1.5-mile hike to the water and back on the Snowflake Trail from downtown Breck.
12. Deep Creek Lake
Plan a trip to far western Maryland for a dog-friendly outing at Deep Creek Lake State Park. Pups are welcome to swim in most spots along the lake, plus they can burn off some steam on all of the park's hiking trails.
13. Lake Erie
Lake Erie is massive, so there are lots of different ways for you and your pup to explore. Catch the sunset at Edgewater Beach in Cleveland, where dogs are allowed on a portion of the beach, or explore Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania, where pups are welcome on the sand and in the water in designated areas.