Where can dogs be off leash in Eagle County?
What does it mean to have a pet under control?
- The pet will come when called
- The pet is not reactive when it sees other people, other pets and wildlife
- The pet must remain near its owner
- The owner can leash the pet need-be
- The pet must respond immediately to owner's commands
Local leash laws can be confusing. While managing agencies set these requirements to protect people, pets and wildlife in certain areas, sometimes pet owners want to let their furry friends run free. In order to do so responsibly, owners can look to areas throughout the county that allow pets to be unleashed.
Local municipalities refer situations such as complaints and leash requirement violations to Eagle County Animal Services. Nathan Lehnert, the animal services field services manager, said that even in areas where leashes are not required, pet owners can perform best practices to ensure that they’re recreating with an off-leash pet responsibly.
First, Lehnert said it is best for pet owners to be sure about where they are letting their animals roam free.
“If you’re not sure, we really appreciate people keeping their dogs on leash, because it’s not always signed or posted that dogs need to be on their leash where they do,” Lehnert said. “If you’re not sure, assume that there is a leash requirement and keep the dog on the leash.”
In areas where pets are permitted to be off-leash, owners are encouraged to remain attentive. Being alert to surroundings and acting accordingly by leashing pets in the presence of wildlife is crucial to preventing harmful run-ins, Lehnert said. Owners are also encouraged to remain attentive in cleaning up after their pets’ waste even in areas where they can run free. Some areas offer on-site bag dispensers and trash receptacles, but when otherwise not available, it is suggested that owners pack dog waste for their trip and carry the waste off-premises when leaving.
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In all local areas that permit pets to be off-leash, there is still a requirement for owners to have pets under control. Meaning, pets must adhere to an owner’s verbal commands — come when called, sit or stop when needed, and remain non-reactive to other people, pets and wildlife.
Lehnert said that people with questions regarding best practices and leash requirements can call Eagle County Animal Services for additional information.
Gypsum Animal Hospital
Town of Gypsum town parks do not allow dogs on or off leash on the premises. So, Gypsum pet owners are encouraged to take pets to the off-leash dog park at the Gypsum Animal Hospital. This park is entirely fenced and is equipped with a dog waste bag station.
Eagle Ranch Dog Park
From sunrise to sunset, pet owners can let their pets play off-leash at the town of Eagle off-leash dog park located in Eagle Ranch. This dog park is only partially fenced, and like in other off-leash dog areas, pet owners must demonstrate reasonable control over their animal.
Miller Ranch Open Space
In Edwards, Eagle County Open Space does not require owners to leash pets while recreating at Miller Ranch Open Space. However, like other areas where leashes are not required within the county, pet owners must have pets under control and are encouraged to leash pets if wildlife is spotted nearby. Additionally, Miller Ranch Open Space is a popular spot for recreators year-round, so reactive pets are encouraged to remain on-leash.
Freedom Park Off-Leash Dog Area
At Freedom Park in Edwards, a pond surrounded by grass marks an off-leash play area for pets. In warmer months, pets often enjoy swimming in the park’s pond. This popular off-leash area is not fenced and has a border on Miller Ranch Road. So, owners are encouraged to have pets under voice control while off-leash at this park. Freedom Park is home to several dog waste bag stations and trash receptacles.
Eagle River Preserve
The Eagle River Preserve in Edwards is managed by Eagle County Open Space. Eagle County Open Space Manager Peter Suneson explained that part of the property has space for pet owners to recreate with their animals on-leash. However, half of the Eagle River Preserve is an off-leash run area where pets can roam free so long as wildlife is not also present.
The town of Avon’s Nottingham Lake is a favorite spot for locals to recreate with and without their pets. Most of the time, pet owners are required to keep their pets leashed at Nottingham Lake Park. However, in a designated off-leash area of the park from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily, pets are permitted to be off-leash for playtime. Because of the park’s popularity and the lack of fencing around the off-leash zone, pet owners are encouraged to keep reactive or excitable dogs on a leash. Additionally, pet waste bags and trash cans are dotted throughout the park for owners to use.
In West Vail, Stephens Park has a section dedicated for off-leash pet play. This park is not fenced, so pets must remain under owner voice control. The off-leash area hugs Gore Creek, so in warmer months, pets can use the water to cool off.
In East Vail, Bighorn Park offers pet owners the opportunity to let animals off leashes and run around. Bighorn Park is a popular spot for community members to recreate and includes a children’s play area. This park is also not fenced in, so owners are encouraged to have reasonable control over pets that are unleashed. Additionally, Bighorn Park contains a pond where pets enjoy swimming and playing in warmer seasons.