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Have you ever planned a road trip with your fur baby, only to discover some places along your route aren’t dog friendly?
Traveling with dogs always has expected limitations.
Whenever we plan to travel with our good boy, Samson, I try to do my research. This often means checking a site like BringFido.com ahead of time.
However, sometimes we learn by trial and error and share our findings with the rest of the class later.
We spent the 4th of July weekend road-tripping the San Juan Skyway in southwest Colorado with our pupper. While we stayed in Durango, only 7 hours from Phoenix, we visited well-beloved towns like Ouray and Telluride.
The scenery here is just astounding!
If you’re looking for a quick summer getaway, or a shoulder season vacation to escape the crowds, southwest Colorado has a lot to offer.
Whether you travel solo or bring the whole family, you will find a gold mine of outdoor activities and historic landmarks.
Plus, there are plenty of dog friendly places near Durango, so you don’t have to pay a pet-sitter!
Road-Tripping with a Dog
We are pretty basic travelers and dog owners.
We tend to travel light wherever we go, often sharing one bag for a weekend and hauling our own healthy road trip snacks, as I wrote about previously.
But we definitely have some essentials for traveling with our Samson puppy.
Since we never know what the water conditions or availability will be in new places, we've found this portable water dispenser to be super handy. Pun absolutely intended.
It has a convenient wrist loop for hiking. A locking mechanism keeps water sealed, and it only releases water into the little bowl when you press the button.
Along the same lines, it's so nice to have functional, easy-to-clean dog dishes when you're on the road.
This two pack of collapsible, silicone dog bowls makes for simple meal time.
Unless your doggo finds the most convenient spot to do his business (like the time Samson skillfully poo'd directly onto a tree branch = proud dog mom moment), be a decent human and carry baggies to pick up after your pup.
To prevent water, food, and dog hair from taking over the backseat, we cover it with this waterproof hammock seat cover. I honestly don't know what I ever did without it.
Samson seems to find it comfortable, too.
Located an hour and a half northeast of the Four Corners Monument (currently closed due to COVID19), Durango is the southern gate to the San Juan Mountains.
The weather here is comparable to Flagstaff, AZ. Winter temperatures reach high 30s, on average, while summer months see mostly 80s with lows still in the 50s.
Visitors will love the charming old west vibe, historic buildings, and the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.
The latter, unfortunately, is not pet friendly unless you have a service animal. However, the public, and dogs on leashes, are welcome to view the train station and railyard.
Dog Friendly Accommodations in Durango
Since most places we wanted to explore could be reached within a couple hours, we used Durango as our home base for the weekend.
If you plan on staying in Durango sometime in the next few months, I’ve narrowed down some places below that are potentially available and allow pets.
I always prefer private stays over hotels. But I recommend comparing prices and options between AirBnB and Vrbo, too.
On a Budget:
Wabi Sabi Hermosa Room – Great for solo travelers or any two people on a tight budget, this pet friendly accommodation is $44 per night. Just note that this is someone’s personal home and their animals live at the location, as well.
Durango Basecamp Cabin Loft – Get this entire loft to yourself, 4 others, and your dog for $173 per night. Just keep pets off the furniture. If you can’t supervise them, you can utilize the dog run.
Mountain Apartment on 20-Acres – Let your dog stretch his legs and his nose on the open acreage. Starting at $96 per night, 2 guests and their fur baby will have the entire apartment to themselves.
O-Bar-O Cabins– Fully furnished cabins, starting at $190 per night for 2 people and a dog.
Durango Mineshaft AirBnB – Suitable for up to 10 people at $325 per night plus a $75 pet fee. There is a hot tub!
Boutique Hotel Room in Downtown Durango – For those who prefer hotels over privately owned homes, and like the idea of being right in the heart of town with their furry friend, this room is $273 per night.
Wild Horse Guesthouse AirBnB – At $197 a night, up to 6 guests and their pets can stay comfortably, with plenty of enclosed yard space for dogs and kids to run.
Durango's Dog Friendly Restaurants
Doggos are more than welcome to accompany their humans on the expansive patio at downtown Durango’s Grassburger. There is plenty of shade from an awning and picnic table umbrellas. The restaurant keeps water bowls filled for pups, too.
Boasting non-GMO, vegan, grass-fed, and gluten free menu options at a reasonable price, this local chain is a must stop for hungry budget travelers.
My food recommendations: the lettuce-wrapped Green Chile Jack Burger and sweet potato fries. Andrew raved about his double bacon cheeseburger, as well.
Decently priced and offering family portions, this restaurant is a fantastic local place to dine in Durango while avoiding downtown crowds. The Sampleris a great bang for your buck and comes with a variety of tangy sauces and condiments.
Also, if you don’t try it at Grassburger, try Zuberfizz soda here.
Listen, I don’t even like soda. At all. But Zuberfizz root beer is incredible – not super fizzy, no weird chemical flavors. Just really tasty.
Leashed dogs are welcome on the covered porch as long as they mind their manners and don’t bother other patrons.
For something just a tad more posh, Steamworks has a couple lovely outdoor seating areas where dogs can join their owners.
We happened not to bring Samson along with us when we dined because it was cool and dark enough for him to rest in the car, and because the wait time was already exponentially long. It was one of the few restaurants open past 8 PM so we didn’t have much choice.
But there were no regrets on our part! We loved the unique, unseparated Cajun buffalo wings and were happy we split the large BBQ chicken pizza. The rich Italian herbs infused in the crust takes this pizza from good to divine.
The customer service is also worth commending here, too. We had waited quite a bit of time not only to get seated but also to receive our main course.
Our waiter informed us that apparently our first pizza had been ruined somehow and they had to start a new one. We didn’t mind too much. We could tell they were busy, even at that hour.
However, once he brought out our pizza, he informed us that it was on the house due to the delay. You just don’t get customer service like that anymore.
Dog Friendly Things to Do Near Durango
Dogs and their owners are free to roam Durango's downtown streets. Visitors will enjoy the colorful murals, historic buildings, and eclectic shops.
However, unless you have a partner to wait outside with your dog, you won't be able to go inside many of those shops.
Alternatively, the Animas River runs right through Durango and recreational activities are aplenty. You can walk the trail that follows alongside it, ride a tube down it, or try some fishing.
Here are a few other dog friendly options just outside city limits.
While there isn’t a whole lot a dog can do at this literal roadside attraction, it’s at least worth mentioning that dogs are not prohibited.
Located on the east side of Highway 550 just north of Durango, this natural hot spring produces 100-degree waters which cool significantly as they tumble down the man-made red rock formation.
Pinkerton Hot Springs are completely free and safe. Just watch your step around the water as it could be slippery.
And, as always, if Fido has to go potty, make sure he does so in the tree line. Some people do try to dip in the deeper areas where the warm water flows; we wouldn’t want to spoil their soak 😉
Looking for a quick sunset hike to burn pre-dinner calories? Take the doggo up 500 “SkySteps” to the Fort Lewis College rim trail.
Public benches mark several spots with clear views of downtown Durango and the mountains its nestled into.
There is also a good chance you will encounter overly curious deer in this area. Be a smart cookie and don’t try to feed them or anything.
We were too busy driving to be able to accomplish much hiking during our weekend trip. But this trail system just outside Durango is highly rated.
The park hosts a range of trails from easy to advanced and all allow dogs on leashes.
Pronounced “you-ray” and dubbed the Switzerland of America, Ouray is an outdoor enthusiast’s haven.
It’s also only about two hours north of Durango; perfect for day trips.
From rock climbing, biking, off-roading, hiking, and swimming in the summer to ice climbing, skiing, and hot springs dipping in the winter, this little town of 7,800 feet elevation has something for everyone.
However, the dramatic drop-offs and cliffside views heading into Ouray on Hwy 550 are not for the faint of heart.
If heights make you break out in a cold sweat, you might consider letting someone else drive this stretch.
Either way, use caution, especially in stormy weather, and don’t try to show off.
Ouray's Dog Friendly Places to Stay
For the most part, Ouray is a pretty dog friendly town. Many shops keep water bowls filled outside and most nature areas welcome furry friends.
However, walking through crowded sidewalks downtown during the intense summer heat isn’t all that fun for you or your dog. If you don’t have someone to pass the leash to so you can run into a store that doesn’t allow pets, you may be limited to window shopping.
Consider your day plans in advance. Communicate with your hosts and ask if they allow dogs to remain unattended at any length of time.
Adobe Inn (Ridgeway) – Made from genuine adobe clay, this room starts at $118, is dog friendly, and suitable for couples or solo travelers who don’t require a ton of space.
Ridgeway Lodge – An early-bird discount gets you $185 for four people, plus $25 per night for each dog you bring along.
The Spotted Dog AirBnB – Pets won’t cost you extra here! Just $163 per night for up to four guests and lots of land to explore makes for a fairly reasonable stay.
Studio Deluxe Cabin (Ouray KOA Campground) – For $203/night, four people can share a comfortable rustic-feeling cabin with modern amenities. Dog owners must sign a pet release form and pay $25 per day for dogs to stay on-site.
Hot Springs Condos – While $350 per night sounds steep, when you consider it covers up to seven people and your dog, it isn’t so bad.
Pet Friendly Restaurants in Ouray
I cannot express how bummed I was when we came into Ouray and found Mojo’s closed, even though Google Maps said they were open. Just look at that menu! Ugh.
Anyway, while there is no official “we are dog friendly” sign posted on their site or front door, the Mojo’s establishment loves dogs and will happily treat yours to a pup cup upon request!
Great for a quick bite and prime people-watching along the main strip, Maggie’s menu offers simple American fare.
Most importantly, dogs are allowed on the covered patio to gawk along with you!
While a bit of a tongue twister, this restaurant is sure to satisfy your taste buds with its craft burgers, sandwiches, and salads.
But, as their site states, they are currently understaffed. The wait times are a little atrocious. I recommend making reservations or finding a good way to kill the time in town while you wait.
Dogs are allowed on the outdoor patio where they have strategically and thoughtfully placed water bowls.
Things to Do with Dogs in Ouray
Along the Red Mountain switchbacks heading into Ouray is a turnoff loop where travelers can park to overlook an old mine and some abandoned houses.
The latter can be cautiously examined outwardly for you to capture some cool pictures. There is enough of a grassy area for dogs to sniff around and explore as well.
Since the state is currently trying to restore the homes, please do not trespass or leave any trace in this area! Respect the history.
To be fair, all nature areas in Ouray are dog friendly except for Box Canyon Falls. This is mainly due to the crowds.
However, there are shady areas near the bathrooms if a spouse or friend can watch your dog while you explore Box Canyon. The entry fee is only $5 and it’s a short 500 feet to the viewing platforms. If you have someone to swap with, exploring Box Canyon is a must on a trip to Ouray!
But if you’re traveling solo through Ouray, stick to an easy dog friendly hike like Cascade Falls. Doggo can play in the stream while you sunbathe in the falls’ misty spray.
Known as the town Butch Cassidy pulled off his first bank robbery, Telluride sits above 9,000 feet and is surrounded by stunning San Juan peaks reaching 13 and 14 thousand feet high.
If you plan on hiking in Telluride, you may want to test your aptitude in high elevation first.
Generally, any elevation over 8,000 feet provokes higher risk of altitude sickness. Not only is the air thinner, but the sun’s rays are much more intense, even on a mild 70-degree day.
As is typical for Colorado, bring layers no matter what the forecast shows. Be prepared for intense sun, high winds, rain, and even snow.
Where to Stay in Telluride
Not going to lie, we didn’t stay in Telluride. Truth is, there isn’t much in the way of budget accommodations that are also pet friendly. Telluride is just swanky like that, and for good reason.
But, if you’re traveling with a group or just feel like splurging, here are some reasonable options to pick from this summer.
The Least Expensive:
Mountainside 401 – This privately-owned, ground level apartment at the Mountainside Inn can accommodate 3 people and a dog for $145 a night, plus a one time $50 pet fee.
Somewhere in the Middle:
AirBnB Superhost Susan’s Condo – Right now, this modern place in the heart of downtown Telluride is half off at $399 per night for up to 7 people and a dog. They only ask that you do not wear shoes in the house.
Box Canyon Boutique Condo – You can get this dog friendly AirBnB for about $285 a night at its lowest. Located at the southeast end of Telluride, here you will be rewarded with mountain and waterfall views.
Mountain Views Mansion – Offering free parking, a private hot tub, and beds for up to 11 people plus pets, this luxurious mountain home is a whopping $950 per night. But if you’re splitting the cost with a large group for a weekend of skiing…it could be reasonable. Maybe.
Where to Eat in Telluride
I’d like to think we visited Telluride on the busiest summer weekend possible, the 4th of July.
So, if we were able to find dog friendly dining without advanced reservations (albeit after waiting an hour), there is hope for you.
Note, this Telluride dining experience does not take reservations ahead of time. You can only put your name on a waitlist in person and be within proximity when they call your name for availability.
Due to their desire to keep ingredients fresh and in season, their menu is not available online. However, you can expect a wide range of American food and locally raised, hormone free meats, including elk.
Prices are as expected for a booming tourist town. I think my fish tacos were $15, and about the same for Andrew’s perfectly pink burger.
Dogs are invited to lounge by their owners on the patio, where water bowls are provided and kept fresh.
If you’re in the mood for something lighter Ghost Town offers smoothies, salads, light breakfast like avocado toast, and refreshing tea and coffee drinks as well.
Dogs are more than welcome on their colorful patio, facing Colorado Avenue, Telluride’s main downtown strip.
What to Do with Doggo in Telluride
The Telluride Station is located on W San Juan Ave on the south end of town. As BringFido mentions, dog friendly gondola cabins are marked by a window sticker.
These completely free gondola rides take you and your pup all the way up to Mountain Village and its gorgeous view, the San Sophia Overlook.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to participate in this activity. This was mostly our fault for visiting Telluride on a huge holiday like the 4th of July.
We just couldn’t fathom making Samson wait in line under the intense sun for an hour for a ride that may or may not give him anxiety.
Although, we had come prepared with Petals and Tails’ CBD Peanut Butter, just in case. Side note: if your pet needs a literal chill pill, too, I really recommend this brand. Use discount code MISSANISS15 for 15% off your first purchase.
If you have a truck or jeep and you aren’t afraid to drive it, you and the pup should take a 4-wheel trek up to Bridal Veil Falls, located at the east end of Telluride.
Alternatively, you can also hike one of the moderate 3 mile round-trip trails to the base of the 365 foot falls.
Just keep in mind, even experienced hikers may have difficulty in the high elevation. You will gain 1,650 feet on this short trip!
Either way, the lush landscape here is dramatic and awe-inspiring. Worth a visit whether you bring a dog or not.
For a hike that’s a little less intense, check out the San Miguel River Trail, accessible from a few points in Telluride. One end boasts easy views of Bridal Veil Falls without requiring the extra energy. The other side, headed west, takes you up a steep mile through San Juan forest.
Along either route, there are plenty of dog friendly watering holes for your good boy to splash in. Or, if your dog has good balance, try floating downriver with them on an inner tube!
For a year-round accessible hike, the moderate Jud Wiebe Trail is dog friendly and offers rewarding panoramic views of Telluride.
Along the Million Dollar Highway route, you will undoubtedly pass through other historic, mountain towns like Silverton.
This old mining town is definitely worth stopping for. Besides the local park, though, there isn’t a whole lot of dog friendly activities or restaurants available in Silverton.
Next time, we would like to take the One Hundred Gold Mine Tour.
If you want to camp, chances are you will want to make reservations to Molas Lake quite a bit in advance. But if there isn’t availability, you might score a free campsite a few miles down Highway 550 for Little Molas Lake.
Either way, both lakes and surrounding fields are perfect for a few hours of play. Plus, you really can’t beat the views of Molas Pass.
Just remember to clean up your doggo’s waste and keep him on a leash if there are others around.
Pro tip: douse yourself in bug spray! The summer mountain heat is a breeding ground for all sorts of creepy crawlies.
Here's a natural solution:
Note, not all hiking trails are open to dogs in this national park. Only the south and north rim lookout points within the park are dog friendly.
However, the Blue Mesa Trail outside of Cimarron and close to the park is a gorgeous hike that allows dogs.
Although we were happy with the couple days’ reprieve, we could have easily spent a full week delving deep into those mountains.
Overall, Colorado is a pretty dog friendly state. Don’t be afraid to explore!
With so many random trails and dirt roads leading into gorgeous scenery, you are likely to find a secluded spot for you and your dog to enjoy uninterrupted.
Simply and safely, pull off the highway at any public spot that intrigues you. Hint: there’s a lot of public land, so don’t bother setting on private property.
Remember to respect the land. Pack out what you pack in, keep a safe distance from wildlife, and adhere to local rules like fire bans and so forth.
In fact, the local fire ban that ended up cancelling Independence Day fireworks turned out to be a blessing for our Samson boy. As much as we love them, he'd rather hide in the bathtub.
I know you and your dog will find southwest Colorado’s San Juan Skyway just as remarkable as we did!