As summer approaches, it’s time to get outside and be active with your furry best friend. So check out this list of the 15 most dog-friendly national parks.
Can You Take Your Dog into National Parks?
Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, Americans have traveled less and less by plane, and have switched over to the traditional road trips and RV travels to explore the great outdoors of the US. We’re lucky to have so many amazing National Parks with such grand beauty. But if you’re traveling with your furbaby, you’ll definitely want to know which National Parks are the most dog-friendly.
Believe it or not, you cannot take your dog into all National Parks. Because of the wildlife activity, some parks don’t allow dogs at all. Others will allow them in the developed campgrounds and picnic areas, but no further. Fear not—there are still plenty of gorgeous dog-friendly National Parks to visit this summer. And if you’re nervous about losing your dog in the parks, check out the Fi GPS Smart Collar. But before we jump into the list, let’s talk about important things to know when visiting National Parks with your dog.
Tips for Visiting a National Park with Your Dog
Although many National Parks will allow your pet to accompany you, they do have a few rules about pet etiquette to keep the experience enjoyable for everyone. This is their B.A.R.K. Policy for dogs.
1. Bag Your Pet’s Waste
Not only does this help keep the trails clean, your dog’s waste is a “non-native element” in the park’s ecosystem.
2. Always Leash Your Pet
Sorry, pets must be on-leash at all times, with a maximum leash length of 6 feet. This is to protect everyone and everything, including your pet.
3. Respect Wildlife
Do not let your dog approach any wildlife—this could be extremely dangerous. Make sure your dog is well-behaved and listens to you. Depending on the park, you could encounter things like grizzly bears, mountain lions, or rattlesnakes.
4. Know Where You Can Go
Before you start, stop by the visitor center to ask the rangers where dogs are allowed and not allowed. And make sure to grab a map of the trails.
Which National Parks are Pet-Friendly?
We have a list of the 15 most dog-friendly National Parks for you to visit this summer. Check out what they offer, where they’re located, and get ready to start your adventure.
1. Acadia National Park, ME
Acadia has over 100 miles worth of dog-friendly trails, and most campgrounds are dog-friendly. Plus Bar Harbor is a neat little town right next door with plenty of pet-friendly places.
2. Congaree National Park, SC
Congaree allows dogs in all campgrounds, and any trail in the park. You can enjoy the wetlands and floodplains in the largest old-growth hardwood forest in the Southeast.
Cuyahoga Valley was added to the National Parks in 2000. Dogs are allowed in any part of the park, and can enjoy splashing in the Cuyahoga River.
4. Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
This famous park welcomes canines to all 13 miles of the South Rim Trail, the campgrounds, all developed areas, and even in the Yavapai Lodge.
Dogs are welcome on the trails, sand dunes, campgrounds, and the Medano Creek. You can even enjoy the Sangre de Cristo Mountain view right next to the sand dunes.
6. Hot Springs National Park, AR
Hot Springs is one of the few urban National Parks. Dogs are welcomed in the forested trails, campgrounds, and to walk downtown along the historic Bathhouse Row.
7. Indiana Dunes National Park, IN
Dogs are welcomed here on the beaches, trails, and campgrounds off of Lake Michigan. You’ll even enjoy ponds, marshes, creeks, and forests.
8. Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
Mammoth Cave offers over 70 miles of dog-friendly trails through the hardwood forest, and some overlook the Green River. But pets are not allowed below ground in the caves.
9. Natchez Trace Parkway, AL, MS, TN
Although pets are not allowed inside the buildings, they are allowed on the 28 hiking trails at this historical national park.
10. North Cascades National Park, WA
North Cascades contains 18 miles of the pet-friendly Pacific Crest Trail. The entire PCT travels from Mexico to Canada. And you can both enjoy the open nature of the Cascade Mountain Range at this park.
11. Padre Island National Seashore, TX
Padre Island has 60 miles of pet-friendly beaches for your pup to splash, play, and explore.
12. Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
You and your canine can both enjoy the many fossils found at the Petrified Forest—named from the petrified wood found here. This whole park is pet-friendly.
13. Shenandoah National Park, VA
Only 20 miles of the Shenandoah National Park are not dog-friendly because of the difficulty and rock climbing. But your dog can enjoy the rest of the beautiful views with you.
Enjoy the beach, lakes, and forests off of lake Michigan. Dogs are allowed everywhere in this park, except for a small area inhabited by endangered birds.
15. White Sands National Park, NM
You and your dog are welcome to explore all the trails at this park. You could even try sledding down the dunes!
Parks like Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Zion and the Badlands are not really dog-friendly. They do have certain developed sections where dogs are allowed—like campgrounds and picnic areas. But it’s definitely not worth making a special trip with your pup to these parks.
Olympic National Park in Washington is limited on it’s dog-friendliness, but it does offer several dog-friendly trails you and your pooch can explore.
Into the Woods
Now that you know which parks to visit, it’s time to plan your road trip, grab your pup, and go explore the great outdoors together! For other dog-friendly parks and trails near your city, check out the Off Leash Blogs on TryFi.com.