15 Best Dog-Friendly Vacation Destinations in Montana

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dogs are posing at the glacier national park in west glacier in a dog friendly vacation in montana

Located in the northwestern section of the United States, Montana is known for its mountains, wildlife, and vast space. It is surrounded by Canada, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Idaho. It is one of the only states in the country that does not have an official nickname. However, many locals just call it Big Sky Country. The first thing you will notice about Montana is the mountains. After all, the name Montana means mountainous in Spanish and it has 300+ peaks over 9,500 feet tall. 

However, the state is divided into two terrains. The Rocky Mountain region makes up the western section, while the Great Plains is spread across the eastern area. It is known for its abundant wildlife and has the most grizzly bears in any of the 50 states. You may also see bison, wolves, bighorn sheep, pronghorns, black bears, and coyotes. This is one of the reasons why it is important to keep your fur baby on a leash in unfenced areas.

The climate varies in the state, with the southern cities ranging from 32 in the winter and 90 in the summer to 25 in the winter and 85 in the summer in the north. Needless to say, bundle up if you are visiting in January. Montana is also a dog-friendly state with 1.2 million humans and about 180,000 fur babies. Here are our top 15 vacation spot picks in Montana for pup parents. 


Home to the most pup popular dog park in the state, Bozeman is full of fur babies. In fact, there are an estimated 9,000 pups in the city living with approximately 53,000 people. It is located in southwestern Montana and is one of the most populated. There are over 100 dog-friendly vacation rentals in Bozeman so you will not have any trouble finding the perfect one on your getaway. There is a lot to do, but make a point to stop at the famous dog park while you are there. 

Snowfill Recreation Area has 23 acres of fenced acres for off-leash running, hiking, and playing with two miles of trails, a water pump for pups, and some stunning hills and valleys. There are also waste stations with baggies but it is best to bring your own. 

After visiting the park, you and your fur baby can stop by one of the dog-friendly breweries in the city. The Last Best Place Brewing Company has 14 different beers on tap and several food trucks to fill your bellies.  


The largest city in the state also has the largest indoor water park so it is the perfect family trip no matter what time of year you visit. The population is about 118,000 with almost 20,000 pooches so you will probably see some of those pups at the dog parks when you go. High Sierra Dog Park has 7.5 acres of fenced off-leash space for pups to play. There is even a small dog section for little pooches. 

But the biggest attraction is the water park. Drop off your cuddly buddy at Big Sky Animal Nanny and head to The Reef Indoor Water Park. Even in the winter, you can dive in here but summer is the most popular season of course. There are six giant waterslides as well as four for the smaller swimmers, an interactive playhouse, a wave pool, a hot tub, and even a game room. 

Afterward, pick up your pup and take everyone for ice cream at Big Dipper Ice Cream. They have 18 different flavors and 13 different toppings. 

Yellowstone National Park 

Although most of it is in Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park has some incredible spaces in Montana too. And as long as your pup is on a leash, he is welcome in most areas. Yellowstone was the first national park, opened in 1872, and has 2.2 million acres of mountains, geysers, rivers, lakes, hills, and valleys. You may also see some antelope, elk, bison, wolves, and bears so keep your pup close.

There are lots of campsites in the park but most of them are in Wyoming. However, there are quite a few in Montana too. The largest is the Yellowstone KOA with 600 sites. It also has a pool, beer, playgrounds, a gaga pit, and a dog park called Camp K9. Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park also has a lot of sites to pick from as well as Madison Arm Resort, Wagon Wheel, and Under Canvas.  

Remember to bring plenty of doggie bags to pick up after your pup and lots of water for both of you. 


Winter in any park of Montana is incredible but in Whitefish, there are two different ski areas to enjoy, as well as a lake with lots of trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. It has 3,000 acres of space with over 110 trails, four parks, and a dozen lifts. Whitefish Mountain Resort welcomes dogs but they are not allowed on chairlifts or gondolas. Hidden Moose Lodge, Grouse Lodge, and the Firebrand Hotel are other pet-friendly places to stay on the mountain. 

Whether you are going skiing or snowboarding, you can rent whatever you do not have right on the mountain. Just remember, dogs are not allowed on slopes. For more dog-friendly activities, take him on the cross-country ski trails. You can also try snowshoeing, skijoring, and dog sledding.

When you are ready to let Fido off the leash, take him to Whitefish Dog Park where there are five acres of running, chasing, and fetching space. There is a small dog area, agility equipment, a pond, and a dog beach for summer. 


Found in the northwestern section of the state, Missoula is one of the most populated cities with close to 74,000 people and 12,000 dogs. It is also one of the most romantic cities in Montana with gorgeous mountainous backgrounds, parks along the Clark Fork River, and quaint wineries and vineyards. First, pick a special pup-friendly room at the Blue Mountain Bed and Breakfast, where dogs are just $10 per night. 

Then, leave Fido with a sitter and take your sweetheart to the Memorial Rose Garden and the Missoula Art Museum before going to sip wine at Alberton Orchards or Ten Spoon Vineyards. Then, pick up your pup, and you can all go to Sgt. Bozo Dog Park to let him play leashless. There is a small dog area for pups under 30 pounds, benches, water fountains, and bags. 

Don’t miss Garnet Ghost Town. Your cuddly canine companion will have to stay on his leash but he is welcome to join you in exploring the old mining town. 

Glacier National Park 

Way up in the northwestern corner of Montana, hikers come from all over to enjoy the 700+ miles of trails in this 1.1-million-acre park. Located across the border from Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada, the Montana section of the park is incredible, with waterfalls, glacial lakes, and some of the most amazing scenery in the world. What’s more, Glacier National Park is pet-friendly for those who want to camp. 

In fact, the park has 13 campgrounds with more than 1,000 sites. The best ones are those that you can reserve because you will know exactly where to go and will be sure to have a spot. Apgar Campground is the largest, with 194 reservable sites. Fish Creek has 178 reservable campsites, and St. Mary has 148. All sites have picnic tables, fire rings, and food storage lockers. 

Always be sure to pack lots of baggies to pick up whatever your dog drops, and make sure you use them.

Great Falls 

Nobody wants to spend extra money if they do not have to, and in Great Falls, you don’t have to! First, eight hotels welcome pets with rooms starting at under $100. And several of them have pools including Holiday Inn, Wingate by Wyndham, and Heritage Inn. After checking in, take Fido to the Pacific Steel & Recycling Trailside Dog Park at River’s Edge Trail. It is completely free and has a separate small dog area, benches for pup parents, and some really cool tunnels, A-frames, and climbing obstacles. 

If you can get your pooch to leave the dog park, take him to Giant Springs State Park next. This historic park has some incredible areas along the Roe River, which is the shortest river in the country. 

The park also has 14 miles of Missouri River shoreline for fishing, boating, floating, and swimming. Also, the spring is one of the largest freshwater springs in the US making 156 million gallons of water a day. 


In southwestern Montana, you will find Butte, with 35,000 people, making it one of the top five most populated cities in the state. There are also about 3,500 dogs so you will probably see some of them during your visit, especially at the dog park. Speaking of the dog park, the one in Butte just happens to be at the local fishing pond, making it even more popular, especially during the summer. The off-leash section has lots of open space for fetching and romping around as well as benches, water, and baggie dispensers. 

Afterward, take your fur buddy and stop at Headframe Spirits for a drink. Dogs are welcome inside and out as long as they are on a leash. The 100-year-old bar is a historic icon and a local hangout. 

Finally, when it starts getting dark, pack up some munchies and doggie bags and head to Silver Bow Drive-In. You and your fuzzy buddy can watch movies under the stars while relaxing in your car.

Custer/Gallatin National Forest

With 3.4 million acres in southern Montana by Billings and Bozeman, the Custer/Gallatin National Forest has a lot of hiking grounds to explore. There are six mountain ranges, including Beartooth, Absaroka, Crazy, Bridger, Madison, and Gallatin. You will find 2,290 miles of hiking trails from easy and short walks to rugged backwoods hiking that can take days. Some of them are in the Yellowstone National Park. It starts in West Yellowstone and stretches 500 miles to South Dakota. 

If you and your pup want something easy and short, the Ousel Falls Park Trail is only 1.7 miles and has a variety of terrains, and the Grotto Falls Trail is about 2.4 miles of forest with sensational views of the mountains and cliffs. For something a little more difficult, take your pup on the 2.2-mile Drinking Horse Mountain Trail to see Gallatin Valley and Bridger Canyon.

Whichever trails you trek, be sure to always let someone know your itinerary, bring lots of water, and always have doggie bags for easy cleanup. 

Columbia Falls 

Pack up the family and your cuddle buddy and take everyone to Columbia Falls, the home of Big Sky Waterpark. It is located in the northwestern corner of the state in the heart of the Rockies and features a variety of water fun for all. Except fuzzy. He will have to stay at a doggie daycare. There are eight waterslides, pools, a lazy river, water wars, water balloon battles, Krazy Kars bumper cars, and mini-golf. 

There are also lots of food, snacks, and drinks like burgers, fries, hot dogs, nachos, and ice cream. They also have shops where you can get souvenirs. Also, try some of the games to win a prize. 

Afterward, pick up your dog and go to the River’s Edge Park. Along the banks of the Flathead River, there are 27 acres of fishing where you can all try to catch something big. Just be sure to get fishing licenses for everyone over 16 years old. Keep your pup on a leash, and you can hang out all day.  


Helena is the capital of Montana, settled in 1864 during the gold rush. In fact, there were 50 millionaires living there in 1888. Today, the population is over 83,000, but not everyone is a millionaire. But there are more than 14,000 fur babies, too. Who needs money when you have a cuddle buddy? One thing the town is known for now is Lake Helena. It is a popular fishing lake with the locals, and you can get in there and join them for just a $10 fishing license. Be sure to keep Fido on a leash, though. 

The lake is fed by the Missouri River, which is also in Helena. In fact, you and your pup can go to Black Sandy State Park and swim, hike, camp, and fish. If you come in the winter, you are welcome to try ice fishing, skating, and wildlife viewing. But make sure you bundle up your Fido and you because it gets incredibly cold there. 

Suppose you want to let your pup off the leash for a while, take him to Paw Park on Last Chance Gulch. There is a separate small dog area, water, waste stations with bags, and benches. 


Further into northwestern Montana, Kalispell is a city of 24,000 located in and around the Flathead National Forest and the 67-acre Flathead Lake State Park. This is the perfect place to spend a summer day along the water with stunning views of rocky cliffs and mountains. If you want to stay longer, there are 40 campsites to choose from but make sure to reserve it in advance. The forest has 2.4 million acres of trees, valleys, mountains, lakes, rivers, and streams to enjoy.

Don’t forget to take your little buddy to play off the leash with the other local fur babies. It is located in Begg Park and has lots of space for playing fetch, tossing around a doggie disc, or just letting him romp around. The rest of the park welcomes leashed dogs and has a playground, picnic tables, and more. 

After working up an appetite, go to Desoto Grill for some awesome burgers, fries, and fun. They have smoked beef, pulled pork, BBQ ribs, and lots more. 

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest 

As the biggest national forest in the state, Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest has some big shoes to fill and has 3.3 million acres to do it with. It is broken down into nine sections over eight counties in southwestern Montana packed with stunning mountains, valleys full of wildflowers, as well as hundreds of lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams. You will find lots to do, including hiking, fishing, boating, and swimming, as long as your dog is on a leash the whole time.

There are more than 50 campgrounds in the forest with anywhere from one to 48 sites. Piney Campground on Georgetown Lake has 48 spots to fill and is perfect for trout fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking. While you are in the forest, stop by Bannack State Park to see the site of the first gold discovery. Clark’s Lookout State Park is also nice, with great views of the Beaverhead River.

Getting hungry? Take your pooch to Pita Pit for a delicious wrap or gyro. Alternatively, Sweetwater Coffee has caffeine boosts with sandwiches and other items.  

Big Sky 

There are not many pet-friendly ski resorts in Montana, but Big Sky welcomes your pup with open arms (paws). Whitewater Inn, Residence Inn, and Huntley Lodge allow dogs of all sizes and they are right on the mountain. If you have kids, Whitewater Inn has a huge indoor waterslide open all year! The Lodge at Big Sky is also pup popular, and it has three pools, a bar, and a fitness center.

The resort has nearly 6,000 acres of terrain with a vertical drop of 4,350 feet for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. There are five terrain parks with trails for everyone, from beginners to experts. One of the most popular trails for pup parents is the South Fork Loop Trail. It is only one mile long and is open all year long, so you can enjoy the trail even if there is no snow. 

Hyalite Canyon is also a wonderful place for cross-country skiing with your cuddle buddy. Just keep him on a leash and he can pull you around when you get tired. 


For those who are on a tight budget, Libby is a nice vacation spot to enjoy with your pooch. Located in the northwestern corner of the state inside the Kootenai National Forest, Libby has eight hotels with rooms under $100. The Sandman Motel is just $75 and has a free breakfast, barbecues to use, and incredible mountain views. For an even cheaper stay, the forest has 36 campgrounds with more than 100 sites for under $20 a night!

While you are in the area, take your fur baby to run around leashless at Libby Dog Park in Neils Memorial Park. There are tunnels, jumps, A-frames, and other agility equipment to play on, as well as drinking fountains, seating for pet parents, and plenty of doggie bags. It even has a small dog area for small and timid dogs. 

Afterward, stop at Cabinet Mountain Brewing, also known as Libby’s Living Room, for a cold brew and sandwiches. You can even get a guided tour.

The Final Woof

Montana is a gorgeous state with majestic snow-capped mountains, clear blue alpine lakes, and incredible thick forests with rugged and natural trails and camping. No matter what you are into, you can find it here. If you want to take the family for some fun, Billings boasts the largest indoor water park, and Columbia Falls has an impressive outdoor water park of its own. For a winter vacation, Whitefish and Big Sky both have impressive skiing opportunities. Summertime is fun just about anywhere in the state with camping and hiking in the national forests, swimming, boating, and fishing in Helena Lake, and even a drive-in theater where you can take Fido to see a movie. 

Photo of author
Patty Oelze is a freelance writer who is also in the process of getting her PhD in Psychology. She has been writing about dogs and other critters for about 10 years and has a plethora of animals at her home including several cats, some chipmunks, a dozen raccoons, two foxes, one coyote, and herds of deer. She and her husband have been living in the Missouri Ozarks for years where she enjoys taking care of wildlife, fishing, photography, boating, and of course, writing.

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