Deposit photos

The big plans ahead to park yourself in the parks, and in the dog parks might be bumpy. Here's why, and how to smooth them out as much as possible.

I don't own a doggo, but I used to. Mine was an  ACD, or Australian Cattle Dog. Lots of those around here in Eugene. People love puppers who can keep up on the trails, and ACDs are among the very best hiker buddies. They track behind, alongside and ahead, alert, focused, and having WAY more fun than you do at the toughest parts of your adventure.  However, lots of doggos make great companions; having owned two ACDs I am, natch, very prejudiced about the breed.

Folks who are itching (not from fleas, thanks) but from the desire to hit the roads and the trails this late spring and summer might be in for a challenge. CNN reports that- and this is before the pipeline hack- there was a serious tanker driver shortage. Driver shortages aren't limited to tankers; it's affecting all areas of the supply chain. However, as it affects our recreational dreams, this could be a dream buster, not a dream catcher.

Gas prices inevitably hit higher during the summer in part because of seasonal regulations which require a more specialized gas that reduces smog. Add to that the driver shortages, and on top of that, the recent hacks. So, hikes in gas prices are part of the challenge, then gas availability is another. That may well fuel, if you'll forgive the pun, a run on stations for RV and camping-ground folks to top off. I wouldn't be at all surprised if some campers are installing additional tanks to haul fuel in order to avoid ending up stranded.  The idea of being stuck in a long gas station line to fuel up is nobody's idea of a fun way to vacay.

This article provides some guidelines for RVers. Let's also talk about the trails.

This Oregon site addresses reservations for my state, but I would emphasize that procrastination in this case is not a good idea, nor is hoping that there will be room when you arrive. A post-pandemic wave of fresh-air seekers could mean for a lot of discomfort right when you most need a rest. More on that in a moment.

For those of us who are periodic campers, and who pine to dine in the pines of the Pacific Northwest, this means some challenges. Many folks can bike camp to some spots, but unless you're going to haul Buster the bulldog that whole way in your backpack, he may have to stay at home. Opting to bike also means that the long-haul trip is out of the question, and those close-in camps may well be overwhelmed by the time you arrive, hot, sweaty and exhausted, only to find no room even for your tiny tent.

Last year, as the pandemic just began to take hold, I had originally planned to car camp close in to Eugene. I was shocked to discover that of those parks which were open, they were chock-full of folks. I ended up in the Whitaker Youth Hostel, which is fine, but not what I'd planned. That's why it's essential to consider the circumstances or risk disappointment.

But wait, there's more.

As people have been dreaming of returning to the wilds this sun season, they began to make reservations some months ago. Reservation rates have been skyrocketing. If you plan to head out to the National Parks, you'd be well advised to download and use the app from the National Park Service (this is a preview). Getting on top of your plans right now is key, for those with dogs are going to have limited choices (especially for the much-desired off-leash options).

PHoto by Chewy on Unsplash

This Outside Online article addresses the most dog-friendly National parks in the US (and a few of the worst) and what to expect. Here's what the Outside article said about Oregon's offering:

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Leashed pets can walk several stunning trails within this national park  (though none of them overlook the lake itself). Currently, you can take  your pup along on Grayback Drive and on the Godfrey Glen, Lady of the  Woods, and Pacific Crest Trails (just not the alternate PCT section,  which has a lake view but is not pet friendly). Thirty-three miles of  the PCT traverses the park, giving you and your pup ample options for  overnight backpacking. If you’re looking for those sapphire-hued lake  vistas, you’ll want to leash up your pooch and take them for a stroll  along the park’s quarter-mile paved promenade at Rim Village. Leashed  pets are allowed in the campground at Mazama Village and within 50 feet  of any paved area, so feel free to circumnavigate the lake and enjoy  those magical pullouts with your pet.

Up north of me in Washington there are two great options, although some have restrictions. Those parks are North Cascades and Olympic, also outlined in the article. Again, please read, understand and plan for the restrictions on what you can do. This Oregon website goes into much more detailed listings of Oregonian parks that are dog-friendly, as well as instructions on what you're responsible for (YES you have to pack out your full doggie bags):

I love that site because of the map.

I am sorry this has to be said, but the sight of a pile of someone else's full pupper poop bags for "the other guy" to pick up is just rude. Your dog, your job, your responsibility. Please do not dump your dogshit next to the bench, which I have seen numerous times on Mt. Pisgah. Your dog, our park, our state. Just, please.

Eric Muir for Unsplash

While this might seem obvious, there are a great many folks like you and me who are researching this topic. That means that every one of them is now aware that time is of the essence, dog-friendly spots are going to be popular, and that reservations are limited. And that doesn't begin to take into account anyone coming in from out of state, just as eager to see Oregon's beauty as the rest of us are.

Suffice it to say that if your summertime hopes include hikes with your critters, don't wait another moment. Even if you're a long-term resident, that doesn't mean that the places you've camped for years are going to have your favorite spots available, especially with more competition. Unless you've got a tight relationship with the place and money already down on your spot, that spot may well be taken.

Which sometimes isn't such a bad thing, if it invites us to explore new spots in such a lovely state. So, reserve now, pack up, leash up, fuel up, head out and enjoy the summer.

Majestic looking dog on a lake
Photo by Harry Gillen / Unsplash