Dog-friendly Camping at Willow Springs

A photo of 2 large dogs sitting on a bench along the Yuba River

Dog-Friendly Camping is offered through Hipcamp host

A photo of a dog pen for smaller dogs in the dog-friendly camping area
The “casa not so grande” for smaller dogs

It’s ironic that our 1 acre fenced-in camping area was originally fenced to contain our two Belgian Malinois nearly three years ago.  At that time, we had no idea that this area would turn into a Hipcamp Dog-Friendly Camping site for groups that allows dogs. We love our furry companions, but they make it very difficult to travel!   Hipcamp offers a solution.  We are happy to provide to our camping guests the luxury of bringing their well-behaved dogs when they camp at Willow Springs.  When you camp with us, your dogs are free to roam within the fenced area.  For convenience, we also provide two fenced dog areas with houses. One for small dogs and one for the larger breeds with a 400 square foot dog run. However, please realize that this is a natural area with predators, so guests need to protect their smaller pets during the night by keeping them close as a fence cannot guarantee their safety.

Managing Dogs while camping at Willow Springs

To allow dogs or not to allow dogs, that is the question.  But it really isn’t about the dog, it is about the dog owner. I have often said, “one person’s well-behaved dog is another dog owner’s worst nightmare.” For example, is it okay for a dog to jump up onto you?  Is it appropriate for a dog returning from the river, wet and dirty, to jump onto the furniture or go excitedly into another camper’s camping area?  Is it okay for dogs to growl, bark and intimidate other dogs without being reprimanded or removed from the situation?  As hosts, we don’t like being put into a position to manage other people’s dogs because they think these often-offensive behaviors are okay. That is why we only rent to groups, AND is up to the group to manage their dogs.  To date, we have had very well-behaved dog owners and very responsive dogs. We want to keep it that way so we can continue to offer camping with dogs. We do not want to restrict dogs at our campsite because a dog OWNER is not maintaining standards we have established at Willow Springs. It’s important that our guests with dogs fully understand the ground rules BEFORE coming.  In short, dogs in the fenced campground area can be off leash. Dogs outside the fenced campground must remain on a leash.

Greater Freedom for Well Behaved Dogs

I attended a conference over thirty years ago and the keynote speaker said, “Freedom is Greatest when the Boundaries are Drawn”.  That has stayed with me my entire life and has served me quite well. These rules for dogs are established to “avoid” possible problems, including our dogs that understand this property to be within their boundaries.  I don’t know how many times I have said to landlords or AirBnB hosts, “I wouldn’t rent to me either. I have two 80 pound Belgian Malinois.” But what they don’t know is that they are better behaved then our 11 pound Chihuahua.” Better than my teenage kids.  It is all about the temperament, large or small.  It is far easier to set rules and be lenient than not having rules and now need to enforce what’s acceptable behavior. For example, no one likes stepping into dog poop. We ask that you pick up after your dog.  Why?  Because no one likes stepping into dog poop.

Dog-Friendly Camping with Dogs that Love the Water.

A photo of Mark with his 2 Belgian Malinois pups at the Yuba River
Mark with his pups Sasha and Kayla

My Malinois loves the 7-minute ride down to Oregon Creek where I throw her stick out into the large pool of water for her to retrieve. If your dog is a water dog or a wanna be, Willow Springs is 7-20 minutes away from many places that dogs love.  Many of them have nice hiking trails with amazing views above the Yuba River. Others have immediate access if your timing is right. Oregon Creek is my favorite because of its proximity and ease of entry, but Dark Day at New Bullards Bar Reservoir is worth the trip.  The water is warmer than our nearby rivers but the banks are steep so entry for dogs can be challenging. Two steps and you are up to your neck.  Take inner tubes and float while your experienced swimmer paddles along in the clear calm waters. South Yuba State Park, Purdon’s Crossing or Edward’s Crossing all have amazing trails paralleling the river with breathtaking views. Keep your dogs on leashes until you get to the river’s edge. Well behaved dogs are loved at the Yuba River. The shorelines have beach areas but my dogs love to explore amongst the boulders lining the river. If you want to drive out Pleasant Valley road south of us to the Bridgeport Covered Bridge, take your adventurous canines out Point Defiant Loop Trail about a mile where the Yuba River meets Lake Englebright. Here the dogs can run in 2-4 feet of water in every direction for miles (although this can change with the season).

Appreciate the Opportunity to take your dog.

When I lived in Oregon, I took my dog for one and half hour drive to a State Park.  We found a parking space and we unloaded, excitedly. As we entered the path into the state park, a sign read, “No Dogs Permitted”.  I was shocked.  I expected a leash requirement but not to be banned altogether.  Irritated after our long drive, I cornered a Park Ranger and asked why.  His reply was immediate, “We have had too many problems with dogs off leash so we decided to restrict them entirely.”  I understood immediately.  Like the saying goes, “One bad apple ruins the barrel.”  As you enjoy Willow Springs as a dog-friendly camping option and the surrounding sights of Nevada County, please be mindful of your dog.  All dog owners want to continue to take their dogs camping, on hikes, and swimming.  Don’t ruin it for the rest of us.  Be responsible with your dog while camping in Nevada County.  We all appreciate your cooperation.

A photo of a dog swimming in the Yuba River
Sasha loves swimming in the Yuba River!