National parks are known for being places of great beauty with abundant wildlife. Because of this, there are strict laws regarding bringing pets into a national park.
Are dogs allowed in any national parks?
Yes, dogs are allowed in many national parks.
I decided to write this helpful blog post to help you know which national parks allow dogs.
While most of the 58 national parks around the country don’t permit dogs, there are a select few that do allow dogs on a leash in designated areas. Next time you’re heading for the outdoors, why not take your pooch to one of the following parks! Just remember to bring your dog leash, snacks, water and a bag to clean up any mess your dog makes.
Here’s a handful of national parks around the U.S.A. that let you bring your pets- make sure you find out and follow the strict rules!
Yosemite National Park (California)
Looking for dog friendly national parks in California?
Are dogs allowed at Yosemite National Park?
Yes, dogs are allowed at Yosemite National Park in California.
California’s Yosemite National Park is a place of beautiful deep valleys, breath-taking waterfalls and fascinating rock formations. If you’re a nature-lover, you’ll love exploring Yosemite with your dog. Pets are permitted on fully paved roads, sidewalks, bike paths and in campgrounds (excluding walk-in campgrounds). There are exclusions- pets aren’t allowed on trails, in wilderness areas, in public buildings and anywhere else as signed.
From late June until Labor Day weekend, Yosemite Hospitality operates a kennel. You must bring written proof of immunizations and your dog must be at least 20 pounds.
Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
You don’t have to enjoy the amazing views of the Grand Canyon alone- you can bring your dog along with you!
There are restrictions that apply. Pets must be on a leash up to 6 feet long at all times. On the South Rim, your dog is permitted on trails above the rim and throughout developed areas. Pets are not permitted on the inner canyon trails below the rim. South Rim Kennel provides boarding for pets that have written proof of immunization.
On the North Rim, there aren’t any boarding kennels and pets are only allowed on the bridle trail and the section of the Arizona Trail that’s north of the park entrance station.
Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
The spectacular Rocky Mountain National Park has 60 mountain peaks as well as evergreen forests and mountain lakes, large meadow valleys and glaciers. The scenery is breath-taking and varied!
However, pets are only allowed in certain areas of the park. Pets are prohibited in the backcountry and on all trails.
Your dog must be on a leash less than 6 foot long at all times and is only allowed out of your car in parking lots around the park, in picnic areas, campgrounds and in roadside areas. The best place to take your dog for a walk is on scenic Endovalley Road.
Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Did you know that Yellowstone was the world’s first national park?
There is so much to see and do in Yellowstone, you could spend days here!
It’s a huge park and very popular and busy in the summer months. If you and your dog aren’t a fan of crowds, trying exploring the park either before 9am or after 3pm when it’s less busy.
There are many activities to choose from! You can go fishing, wildlife watching, boating and camping. There are lots of kids activities too!
Are pets allowed in Yellowstone National Park? Yes, pets are allowed in Yellowstone National Park.
Dogs must be on a leash or in a carrier at all times and the leash can’t be longer than six feet. Pets must be within 100 feet of a road, campground or parking area.
If you need to leave your dog in care while you’re visiting Yellowstone and the surrounding area, there are pet day care and kennel options in Wyoming and Montana.
Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)
The Great Sand Dunes National Park is an amazing park with the tallest sand dunes in the U.S.! The landscape in this national park is diverse- not only sand dunes but wetlands, conifer forests, alpine lakes and grasslands.
Pets are permitted in the Preserve and main use areas of the park. This includes Dunes Overlook Trail and along the Medano Pass Primitive Road. Pets aren’t permitted in the backcountry, off of the Dunes Overlook Trail, north of Castle Creek Picnic Area, north of Point Of No Return, and in the visitor centre. Dogs must be on a leash less than 6 foot long and owners must clean all mess that the dog makes.
One thing to beware of in the summer months is the hot sand, which is dangerous for pets. It’s best to hike during the mornings or evenings, and protect your dog’s feet with pet socks. If you’re near Medano Creek, it’s a good idea to walk your pet along the wet sand for relief from the heat.
Joshua Tree National Park (California)
The Joshua Tree National Park consists of the Colorado and Mojave desert ecosystems. The park is a great place to go for a leisurely drive, a casual walk, a hike or camping.
In 2017, the park became known as an “International Dark Sky Park” because of its amazing starry nights and nocturnal environment.
Dogs are allowed in the park however must be on a leash at all times and can’t be unattended. They can’t be more than 100 feet from a campground, road or picnic area. Unfortunately, dogs can’t use the walking trails.
Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)
If you love exploring caves, then you’ll love a visit to Mammoth Cave National Park. Did you know that Mammoth Cave has the longest known cave system in the world?
Unfortunately, you can’t take your pets inside the cave however there are over 70 miles of dog-friendly trails around the park, which is why we’ve included Mammoth Cave National Park as one of the best dog-friendly parks in the U.S.
There are some shorter trails near the visitor center, such as the Green River Bluffs Trail, but if you’re looking for a longer hike then head to the North Side Trails where you’ll pass waterfalls and old growth forest. Make sure your dog is on a leash at all times.
If you’re staying overnight at the park, pets are only allowed in the Woodland Cottages however the Mammoth Cave Hotel maintains a kennel. Call ahead to check for availability.
Acadia National Park (Maine)
Acadia National Park on Maine’s Mount Desert Island features a woodland landscape with rocky beaches and is home to Cadillac Mountain which is the highest point on the east coast. The bayside town of Bar Harbor is a popular tourist spot.
The great thing about Acadia is that dogs are allowed on most of the 120 miles of hiking trails within the park. Dogs are also allowed in all public areas except for Wild Gardens of Acadia, Duck Harbor Campground and aren’t allowed on Echo Lake Beach or Sand Beach between May and September. There are some trails where dogs aren’t permitted and some where they are permitted but it’s not recommended you take them.
On Isle au Haut, you can bring your pet on day hikes only.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)
One of the smallest national parks in the U.S., Ohio’s only national park, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, is close to Cleveland and Akron and provides a variety of trails through wetlands, woodlands and fields. Some of the trails are for experienced hikers while others are easily accessible to all park visitors.
The great news for dog owners is that your dog is welcome on all of the 125 miles of trails! We recommend visiting the Bradford Reservation for the best scenery. To get there, follow the five-mile trail that crosses the Tinkers Creek Gorge area, Ohio’s most spectacular canyon.
Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)
While Arkansas might not be on the list of places to visit for many tourists, the Hot Springs National Park is impressive enough for a visit and should be on the list of must-see natural places in the U.S. People visit Hot Springs (nicknamed ‘The American Spa’) for the thermal water’s healing properties, but the national park is offers fantastic hiking and camping opportunities.
Hot Springs National Park is one of the most dog-friendly national parks in the U.S. Your dog isn’t allowed inside the visitor center or any other public buildings, but is allowed on all trails and areas around the park. Owners are required to clean up after their dogs, and there are two Pet Waste Stations located in the campground and at both ends of Bathhouse Row.
Natchez Trace National Parkway (Alabama & Mississippi)
Heading out for a weekend drive with your dog? The dog friendly Natchez Trace National Parkway is a 444-mile roadway that commemorates the historical Natchez Trace which was a forest trail used by American Indians, settlers, slave traders and soldiers.
Commonly known as “The Trace”, this stretch of road makes a great pet-friendly road trip because you’re able to stop along the way at the more than 100 exhibits. Your pet isn’t allowed inside the buildings however if you’re looking to explore the area on foot, there are 28 different hiking trails that you can take your dog on.
Padre Island National Seashore (Texas)
Are there dog friendly national parks in Texas?
Yes, there are dog-friendly national parks in Texas.
Along the Gulf of Mexico in southern Texas is the dog-friendly Padre Island National Seashore. It has 70 miles of coastline and features dunes, prairies and tidal pools.
You can bring your dog as long as it’s on a leash, and your dog is welcome almost throughout the entire park, including the beaches.
Padre features diverse wildlife such as sea turtles, brown Pelicans, Peregrine Falcons, and other rare, threatened or endangered species. It’s surprising that dogs are allowed here, but they are- but remember to keep them on a leash at all times to protect other wildlife!
Padre Island is great for camping and four wheel driving, so make sure you pack your camping gear and set aside a few days to explore the place.
Petrified Forest National Park (Arizona)
Dogs on a leash are welcome on all the park trails at the Petrified Forest National Park, located in the eastern part of Arizona.
The famous Route 66 runs through the park.
People visit the park for hiking, photography, backpacking and general sightseeing of the fossils found in the petrified forest. The park has been excavated over the past century, and more than 600 artifact sites have been found in the park. Make sure your dog doesn’t do any digging of its own!
Shenandoah National Park (Virigina)
Did you know there are over 500 miles of walking trails in Virginia’s dog friendly Shenandoah National Park? Of the 500, only 20 miles are off limits to dogs due to dangerous terrain and difficult climbing conditions.
Most people head straight for Skyline Drive for the beautiful views of the park, however it’s worth stopping and hiking in the peaceful park. There are waterfalls and great views throughout the park.
There are many other national parks that are pet-friendly, however we can’t fit them all in this blog post!
The main things to remember are that even though pets are allowed in these national parks, there are strict rules about where your pets can go and how much of the park they can access. Most parks state that dogs must be on a leash at all times and the least can’t be too long.
If you’re not sure about whether your dog will cope while at a national park, research options for leaving your dog at a pet daycare centre or at a kennel.
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