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3 dog-friendly locations near Leavenworth for incredible portraits

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    I prayed for snow.

    OK, OK. I am not a religious person. I barely class as “spiritual.” So praying might be a stretch.

    Let’s say that I sang “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow” all the way to Leavenworth, Washington, one weekend last month.

    And given that my talents are limited to photography and writing, I’d say “singing” is a stretch, too.

    Maybe I was caterwauling. Only small dogs could hear some of the notes I was hitting.

    Personal projects and hanging out in dog-friendly Leavenworth

    I’d only been to Leavenworth once before: around the same time last year. It rained then too but not as much as it did for this trip.

    Leavenworth is enchanting. And very importantly, dog-friendly.

    Bella walking in dog-friendly Leavenworth downtown

    Its Bavarian-inspired architecture attracts visitors from all over the Pacific Northwest and beyond. The charming atmosphere of the town nestled in the Cascade Mountains was actually a strategic initiative to revitalize the local economy.

    The pedestrian-only streets are typically packed with people and, if you can get there in the right season – i.e., the not-rainy season – you can feast on great food and locally brewed beer on dog-friendly patios.

    It’s a glorious destination for outdoor adventures. Epic hiking is right at your doorstep and if you’re a real daring soul, you can stand in line and get incredible views of the town from the Alpine Coaster at the Leavenworth Adventure Park.

    Not for me, thanks. I’m the kind of gal who likes to keep her feet on the ground.

    And a beer in her hands. The beer would spill on a roller coaster, I think.

    Besides, there was more afoot than hiking and roller coasters this year.

    Three amazing dog-friendly locations near Leavenworth

    When I returned home from Shutterhound, an educational conference dedicated to dog photography and only dog photography, I set my mind to dedicate myself to two personal projects:

    1. A top secret adventure that is going to make your heart swell, I promise.
    2. Help the dogs and cats at Companions Animal Center in Hayden, Idaho, find homes.

    Our local shelters are full. No, they’re bursting at the seams, because people are surrendering their pets at an unprecedented rate. If the shelter says “we can’t take your dog, we’re full,” people leave the dog behind in the parking lot anyway. Or take it to one of the several popular dumping spots in the area.

    It’s heart-breaking. To help, I’ve been trying to get all the shelter dogs and cats great images so people will see on the facility’s website and social media feeds happy, smiling dogs out for a walk, rather than sad, stressed-out fearful dogs trapped in a kennel.

    That is their reality for hours and hours every day, though.

    It’s what I feel I can do to give back to the community that has helped me build my business as a dog photographer.

    The other personal project has similar goals: to give back to the community. This one has a stronger message, though, that connects women to their dogs in a way that gives thanks to our canine companions for showing us who we are.

    After my trip to Leavenworth last year, I had two locations planned for special project shoots and picked a third out of thin air.

    I scheduled my model sets — one woman and her dog — and headed west with my friend/assistant Cat for a November weekend around Leavenworth.

    It rained the whole friggin’ time. Like, not just sun showers and moody clouds. I’m talking rain, grey skies, more rain and friggin’ downpours. We got soaked three times and dried out three times before the day was over.

    Aside from my personal project shots, I made sure to get images of just the dogs (and Bella at each location because she was there, too … duh!)

    1. Peshastin Pinnacles State Park

    You know I love a good shot of a dog on a rock. Peshastin Pinnacles, a 34-acre day-use park, has the most unique rock formations of sandstone and conglomerate rising out of the earth. Hiking trails wind their way around the base and up the sturdier ones, treating visitors to views of the entire world below them.

    My friend Cat and I got there ahead of our models and went for a pre-hike hike. We found an incredible space to set up shop for an epic shot. I had Cat take a prep shot with her phone of how I wanted the space to look.

    woman and her dog sit on a rock at Peshastin Pinnacles State Park near Leavenworth
    Practice shot

    The sun was breaking through clouds on the horizon and the light was just … well … amazing.

    We went back down the hill, slipping and sliding through the sand in the rain. We checked our trail maps for an alternate route and once our models arrive started to ascend the hill again.

    The alternate route took us straight up to the Trigger Finger. As I was checking my trail map, Cat yelled out, “Ang, turn around.” I did and I knew we were right where we needed to be.

    This is Ares, a white husky who fills his mama’s heart with joy and confidence and love. When you see them together … oh my.

    white husky at the Trigger Finger rock at Peshastin Pinnacles State Park near Leavenworth
    Ares at the Trigger Finger

    I waited until I knew I had the image I wanted – plus some – and then I put Bella in the right position to get my one shot of her.

    Maremma sheepdog at a dog-friendly state park near Leavenworth
    Bella’s turn

    NOTE: Having Bella on these personal-project sessions is so helpful. Because we trust and understand each other, because we are so connected and because she knows precisely what I need from her, I can use her to demonstrate the exact poses I want from my models.

    2. Waterfront Park

    By the time we arrived, the dirt parking lot looked like beef soup. Minus the beef.

    While we had small breaks in the rain at Peshastin Pinnacles, the skies broke open en route to Leavenworth’s downtown.

    Which was already a madhouse.

    When we visited last year, it was midweek. I was largely unprepared for the number of people squeezed into the sidewalks and parking lots. For just a random Saturday too.

    We found a parking puddle and headed straight for the spot I knew I wanted to perch. Waterfront Park and the trail system along the Wenatchee River are a part of the strategy the city council set forth to bring tourists to Leavenworth.

    Our spot was backdropped by an exquisite snow-capped peak and we were surrounded by trees still laden with their autumn-ready, gold-hued leaves.

    Our models arrived and Delta played the part very well.

    shiloh shepherd at Waterfront Park near downtown Leavenworth

    She was on her way home to Seattle from a shilo shepherd show in Colorado. This road-weary girl is an absolute beauty.

    And of course .. Bella …

    Maremma sheepdog laying on the rocky beach at Waterfront Park near dog-friendly Leavenworth
    Just chillin’

    3. Lake Wenatchee State Park

    Y’all. If I didn’t have to write words to describe this place, I would just say, “no words.”

    This is one of the most beautiful places upon which I have cast my lens. I’m even going to put it up there next to Lake Louise at Banff National Park in Alberta, my most favorite place in the world.

    I was a virgin to this location but I didn’t want to go in blind. I researched the spot on Google, looking at images on Maps and other internet photo spots.

    I can tell you that images don’t do it justice. Not even the ones you are about to see. I promise. It is so much better in person with your actual eyes.

    big white dog photography at Lake Wenatchee State Park in the Cascades of Washington

    The park covers 489 acres and it has hiking trails I need to go back and tackle. Need.

    We jumped out of the car (aka Eddie the Edge) and I ran toward the view.

    My heart sank. The beach was covered in people. OMG, what am I going to do? There are people everywhere. Don’t they know it’s a cold and rainy November day?

    Wait … what? It’s Veterans Day, which is also a free day at state parks across Washington state. No need for a Discover parking pass. Fuck. How did I miss that? Oh, like when you didn’t realize you scheduled a private client session at another popular state park on Memorial Day weekend. Dumbass.

    Never mind. This place is stunning. And there are more places to set up an incredible photo shoot than the beach.

    Mama Model brought her golden doodles, Piper and Roo. They are the epitome of dorky loveable.

    two goldendoodles pose on a rock in front of Emerald Island at Lake Wenatchee State Park
    Roo and Piper

    We weren’t finished yet … bonus location!

    We were exhausted.

    It had been a long day, although three photo sessions in one day is nowhere near as tiring as three hockey games in one day when you’re cycling five defensemen. (Ahem … I was one of those defensemen for the tournament I’m thinking of.)

    The three of us – me, Cat and Bella – headed back to the Airbnb in Peshastin. We thought to stop in Leavenworth for dinner but the sheer amount of people was freaking Bella out.

    We rolled through McDonald’s drive-thru for Big Macs and then rested with a great movie. (Have you seen Strays? Hilarious cartoon dog movie starring the voices of Will Farrell and Jamie Foxx.)

    Bright and early the next morning, we fueled up on lattes and breakfast sandwiches at The Rock in Peshastin and headed for home.

    Screeeeeeeeeeeeech … wait. Wanna stop at Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park? The location where I got my top 100 image in the International Pet Photography Awards this past September?

    Well … Cat is my “fuck yeah” friend. I barely have “wanna” out of my lips and she’s saying “fuck yeah.” It’s my favorite thing about her.

    Sun Lakes/Dry Falls, just 15 minutes south of Coulee City in Grant County, boasts the most incredible landscape. While the Sun Lakes are a great recreation spot for summer beachin’ and off-season hiking, the Dry Falls part is a sight to behold.

    Created by the Missoula Floods during the last ice age, this massive cliff was once the largest waterfall in the world.

    No water flows over the rock walls today and once we had our fill of looking at this giant ditch, we hopped back in the car and went down the hill toward the hiking trails.

    Bella was our only option for today but that’s OK. After all, she’s the best model a dog photographer can have.

    Bella the Maremma sheepdog at Sun Lakes Dry Falls State Park near Coulee City in Washington state
    At one of the lakes at Sun Lakes/Dry Falls State Park

    Hey, Wenatchee and Leavenworth

    You’re only three hours away. If that. As long as my husband isn’t driving, that is.

    Adventure Day sessions have no additional travel fees for locations around your area. I mean, honestly, it’s only a tank of gas, right?

    Hit me up with your favorite exploring spot and get on my calendar for 2024 – rain, snow or sunshine.


    Dogs. Adventure. Outdoors. These words set Angela's heart afire. Angela Schneider, an award-winning writer and dog photographer, documents the story of you and your dog and the adventures you take together. Your portraits will be a statement piece in your home, art that will make your friends and family beg to hear its story.

    15 thoughts on “3 dog-friendly locations near Leavenworth for incredible portraits”

    1. Ohhhh I miss me a good Leavenworth weekend. I went before my photography days but would love to go back, and borrow Bella! It’s nice that you have such a dog-friendly location so close to you to take such incredible portraits! And it comes with beer to boot!

    2. Wow! Leavenworth is a beautiful place! Looks like an amazing adventure and that’s awesome that it is so dog-friendly. The images are stunning! And that white husky -yup, you know I’m in love 🙂 Thanks for sharing this with us!

    3. The natural beauty around Leavenworth is astounding, definitely a spot to add to the bucket list. It’s great to know Leavenworth has so many dog-friendly locations, so when Lili and I take an epic road trip to the PNW, we will be set to go.

      1. Funny. I just read a book about a gal who took a road trip across America, visiting all the national parks. She said there wasn’t much to see in the Spokane area and she skipped all the way past Leavenworth to get to national parks. For me, the journey is so much about the in-betweens rather than the destinations. She missed out!

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