Living in the Sacramento area, we are so blessed with an abundance of gorgeous outdoor locations - parks, rivers, lakes, trails. But when you're looking for a beautiful dog-friendly spot to photograph your pup, how do you decide? I've put together this handy list of some of my favorite amazing locations to photograph your dog in and around Sacramento.

1. Folsom Lake

With this year's super bloom, sadly caused by the drought California is currently experiencing, Folsom Lake had to be number one on my list. Just note that the lupine typically only bloom in April and May, and the areas where they are currently most abundant are underwater most years.

With almost 20,000 acres to explore, Folsom Lake State Regional Area is an incredible place even when the lupine aren't in bloom. There are plenty of different entrances to choose from - my favorite is the Granite Bay entrance off Douglas. From here, you can access a number of different areas, including beaches, trails, and open fields. If you follow the road all the way down to Beeks Bight, you'll find my absolute favorite spot (when it's not under water). There are lots of unique rock outcroppings, trails that are great for exploring, and it's only a short walk down to the water.

Things to note: There are often lots of bikers, hikers, and horseback riders out on the trails, especially on the weekends. If your dog is reactive, I would recommend visiting during the week. Additionally, there is a $12 entrance fee or you can enter with an annual state park pass.

Brindled dutch shepherd standing in the middle of a field of purple lupine

Omega during the lupine super bloom.

silhouette of cattle dog against setting sun background

Ashe at sunset at Folsom Lake.

2. Gibson Ranch

Popular with photographers, Gibson Ranch is a 355-acre regional park in Elverta. In addition to the wooded trails, Gibson Ranch also boasts a dog park, an equestrian facility with boarding and horse rentals, and a pond. One of the reasons this spot is so great is because of the wide variety of backgrounds it offers. You can photograph your dog walking down the trails, in front of different fences, or out on the pier overlooking the pond.

Things to note: Gibson Ranch hosts a number of events throughout the year so make sure you check their calendar to ensure your visit isn't conflicting with one of those. Additionally, there is a $5 entrance fee or you can enter with an annual regional park pass.

cattle dog puppy walking down a wooded trail

Barkus on one of many trails at Gibson Ranch.

Alaskan malamute dog lying on pier in front of a lake

Caddi relaxing on the pier.

3. State Capitol

The State Capitol Park is my number one favorite place to photograph within Sacramento city limits. The grounds really have it all - city architecture, large lawns, and a variety of plants and flowers (including the World Peace Rose Garden and the cactus garden). The capitol grounds are most loved by photographers for the service road lined with Italian cypress trees that runs directly behind the capitol building. If you time it just right, you can capture your dog walking down the road in some gorgeous golden light.

Things to note: The capitol is in the heart of Sacramento so the park grounds can be busy when the weather is nice. You can still visit if you have a reactive dog as there is plenty of space, just be aware that there may be other dogs in some of the more popular areas such as the rose garden and service road. There is metered street parking on all sides of the capitol park.

Small pomeranian dog standing in the middle of blooming yellow lantana flowers

Pipsqueak among some blooming lantana on the capitol grounds.

French bulldog standing in front of the state capitol building in Sacramento, California

Charlie behind the state capitol building.

4. UC Davis Arboretum

Another great place for variety is the UC Davis Arboretum. The 100-acre arboretum on the UC Davis campus runs along Putah creek, and is home to multitude of different garden areas featuring plants from around the world. Despite the number of times I've been here, I still haven't explored it all. Some of the featured gardens include the redwood grove, the Australian/New Zealand collection, the garden of California native plants, and the Mediterranean collection. You could photograph your dog here over and over and end up with completely different images each time!

Things to note: My favorite lot to park in to access the Arboretum is Visitor Lot 5. Parking on campus is $10 for a day pass. When you enter the Arboretum, go left to access the redwood grove or go right to access the Australian plants. (Hint: the photos featured here were taken in both areas)

Cattle dog in front of bush with blooming yellow flowers

Luna in front of a blooming Senna plant.

White shepherd lying in a path in a redwood grove

Yael in the redwood grove.

5. Elk Grove Park

If you live in South Sacramento, Elk Grove, or anywhere in between, Elk Grove Park is a wonderful location to photograph your pup just enjoying themselves. There are wide open grassy areas surrounding the pond. The pond is home to a large number of ducks and geese, and you can see lots of babies during the spring. The walkway around the pond has a couple of false bridges that make for nice backdrops.

Things to note: Just be aware that this is a popular park so there may be other dogs out and about, especially when the weather is nice. Parking is free in any of the lots around the park.

Cane corso dog standing in a park

Karma watching the geese at Elk Grove Park.

Three small dogs standing in front of a large weeping willow tree in a park

Pookie, Mollie, and Mocha posing in front of a weeping willow tree.

Ready to have beautiful portraits of your pup created at one of these incredible locations? Book your session now.


Don't forget to continue following the blog circle to read what everyone else chose for their "photographer's choice" this week. Up next Marika Moffitt of Dirtie Dog Photography captures the stories of dogs and the women who love them in the Greater Seattle Area and beyond.

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