Welcome to an adults only dog friendly campground in North Carolina.
21 Plus Salute! This childfree retreat offers camping serenity, whether you prefer a tent, RV, yurt or cottage. And of course, bring your furry best friend.
By Sherri Telenko
Sitting on the deck of the tiny house, cradling a glass of wine, and marveling at the darkness, I’m surprised this campground is so quiet. Only the sounds of cicadas interrupt my thoughts.
No kids. This is a childfree, no-kids-allowed, adults-only campground. All guests must be legal adults age 18 years and over—in people years, anyway. Dog years there’s no restrictions, except you must keep your pooches on a leash until you get to any five of the fenced-in leash-free zones. Then it’s a pup’s paradise.
4 Paws Kingdom isn’t merely dog-friendly. It’s dog-centric.
Furry family members are welcome. Adults with any number of dogs can camp, RV or rent a cottage here. Most visitors (like me) are traveling with one dog but there’s an RV down the path sporting five, two recently rescued. That site gets a little yappy in the morning, but otherwise this is a serene vacation.
Owners Connie Kendrick and Sandy Abbey bought 4 Paws Kingdom three years ago and have been updating the facilities ever since. This is an early retirement venture for both women, who previously worked in offices, except for a stint renting cottages.
“We missed meeting the people,” Sandy says. “We’d give people keys [to their cottage] then never see them again until it was time to leave.” Here, there are events almost every weekend and Friday night dinners in the banquette area. “It’s totally optional to attend,” she emphasizes.
Also, the fence and gazebo in the pond leash-free site are new, as is the agility course and the Barley house—a tiny house moved from another location a year ago. “It’s really popular,” Connie says. “It paid for itself almost immediately.”
I can see why. When I tell friends that I spent five days at a campsite in North Carolina, their first question is a skeptical, “Really?”
Technically I ‘camped’ in the Barley House—a small cabin with a toilet, shower, full-sized fridge, kitchenette, cable TV, Wi-Fi and air conditioning. However, the deck had a charcoal barbecue (not gas), which I learned to use, so that’s something.
A small fenced dog enclosure runs off the Barley’s entirely gated deck, which means letting the dog out to pee each morning (noon and night) is easy.
Most of the RV and camper sites have fenced enclosures for the dogs. But the Barley is the only ‘tiny house’ on the property. There are a few other cabins, two yurts, and three RVs for rent; otherwise it’s a bring-your-own accommodations campground.
The biggest difference between this campground and others is the dog facilities:
- Five fenced in leash-free zones, including my dog’s favourite with a pond, and a private one for less personable pups, sites with fenced dog runs
- Poop bag stations every few feet and water bowls underneath hoses in every run
- A lure course (open when staffed)
- Dog baths in an air conditioned room make clean up much easier
- Short wooded hiking trail connects to play zone areas and adjacent wire fence keeps pups from running into wildlife.
- Fairly remote: 1.5 hours drive from Asheville, twenty minute drive from nearest grocery store and a thirty minute drive to Tryon International Equestrian Center, home to FEI World Equestrian Games 2018.
4 Paws Kingdom is Disneyland for dogs (minus any kids!). High energy pups will love it here, especially if they’re well socialized with others. Though there were few other dogs in the main leash-free park when we visited early in the morning, the private park allows you to turn a sign around and claim it as your own.
Traffic through the park is slow moving or golf carts shuttling staff around. There’s a calm here midweek and, except for planning your own meals, demands are minimal. Best of all, no pool or screaming kids. Just the occasional dog barking, and who doesn’t love that?
4 Paws Kingdom Campground & Dog Retreat
335 Lazy Creek Drive
Rutherfordton, NC 28139
– Photos by Sherri Telenko
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