A dog-friendly vacation


Luna wasn't quite
ready to come in.
Can't say I blame her.
Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails. ~Max Eastman, Enjoyment of Laughter

When traveling, there are many things to take into consideration. If you happen to be a dog owner, things become more complicated. When there are four dogs in your combined family of six, things are a lot more complicated.

For my family, this is a reality. My parents have an older, smaller dog (we believe she's a Rat Feist, but aren't certain), named Jenny. We joke that she's more of a cat or a person than a dog, as she takes up no space and causes little-to-no trouble.

I have Luna, a medium-sized dog. She's a mutt, but we believe that she's a Lab mixed with a Blue Heeler. Luna's a people-dog, loves them almost more than other dogs, and is a bit of a chicken. Despite the fears, she seems to be a fairly happy dog.

Jaxby! He poses well.
Finally, my brother and sister-in-law have two dogs. Jaxby, the oldest, is the only boy-dog in the group, and looks like a teddy bear. They were told he was a yorkie mix. My brother believes Jax has some Wheaton Terrier in him. It's really a mystery.

Their younger dog is Zoey. She's also the biggest one of the bunch. Unfortunately for Zo, she doesn't always realize her size, and is somewhat a klutz. Despite that, she's a sweetheart. While her breeds are also unknown, they think she is a Boykin Spaniel mixed with a Lab.

When searching for a vacation place in which your whole family can stay together (even one as small as ours), there's often a limit on the dogs. If dogs are allowed at all, they usually cap it at two dogs or only small dogs. This has been a problem for us. We all live in different states and wanted to be able to meet up somewhere.
Welcome to Barkwells.

That's when my mom found Barkwells. And we love it.

Barkwells is located in Mills River, NC, just south of Asheville. The owners had realized that dog-friendly travel was a problem and decided to become part of the solution. They bought some land and opened the "dog-lover's retreat", which includes eight cabins.

One of the major features of Barkwells is the fence surrounding the entire property. Due to that, all dogs are allowed off-leash, which is a welcome relief for dog owners. Each house has its own fenced-in area, as well, so even if your dog doesn't necessarily get along with other dogs they can get a leash break.
Zoey loves the water.

In the middle of the more than eight acres, there's a pond, which many dogs enjoy. We had a hard time keeping Zoey out of the water, and we were there in February. (Dog-specific towels and linens are provided to clean the furry ones off and to cover the couches.) When the weather is warmer, they have paddle boats so the human guests can enjoy the pond.

There is plenty of room to space out.
Along with recent "green" awareness and personal responsibility, Barkwells is making strides in that direction. They ask that you recycle, use natural cleaners, offer organic coffee, and are changing the new cabins to be more energy efficient. One cabin, Baxter, even uses a solar-powered water heater. They also raise their own chickens, making the eggs available to guests.

Barkwells is within an easy drive of Biltmore, the famed Vanderbilt family house. While dogs are not allowed in the historic home, they can go on the property. It's a beautiful home (mansion-like!) and was rather surprising in some of the early advancements.

The first time we visited, we learned about Brevard, a small town nearby. It's home to Brevard College and white squirrels. At first, we thought they were albino squirrels, but these squirrels don't have red eyes. There were apparently a few stories of how these squirrels came to be, including a story involving a circus. The Brevard squirrels look much like your average squirrel, except they are almost completely white with a few grey spots. As silly as it sounds, it was an interesting discovery.

We also visited Jump Off Rock, in Hendersonville, NC, and drove through part of the Pisgah National Forest, including Sliding Rock Falls (outside of Brevard, NC). At Sliding Rock, visitors are actually allowed to slide off the rock during warmer weather.

Brother made a friend! She was a
King Cocker Spaniel.
Barkwells is close enough to Asheville that you can easily go there to explore and the downtown area (that we stumbled upon) had a fun, eclectic atmosphere. Two of the places that mom and I always visit (shopping!) before we leave are Mast General Store and Three Dog Bakery, both in the same area of Asheville. Dogs are allowed in both places.

When it comes to finding a truly dog-friendly place to visit, it can sometimes be tricky. Often, they claim to be dog-friendly, but there are almost always limits. Barkwells doesn't have such limits. They love dogs and welcome them with open arms. As my grandma said, "this is a vacation all about the dogs!" For us, that's the way we want it.

Even Jenny got in on the fun.Met new friends, Gabe and Abby.

This is what's it all about :)This one sits pretty. :)

Entrance.Abby. She was a sweetie, too.
She and Gabe were siblings.

Libby, the biggest cabin
and one of our favorite spots.

The office/chicken house.

The private fenced-in yard in the
front, office in the background.

The back of "Libby", our cabin for
the weekend. Loved the view
from the porch.

Seriously. Beautiful.Zoey loved the water,
Luna wasn't so sure.

Jaxby running. I love watching
him run.
Luna was spying on the others
across the pond.

Beautiful sunset.They took turns chasing each other.

Jax was fascinated by the chickens.Tired after a morning full of

Luna watches for visitors.Gabe, the sweetie. :)


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