The most dog-friendly national parks in America

The most dog-friendly national parks in America


For Americans and their young ones, a visit to dog-friendly national parks is a great vacation. Unfortunately, finding a national park where your furry travel companion will enjoy can be fun too !

Many national parks have strict pet policies, limiting pets to only the most developed areas. But there are a few things that make Fido easy to bring. Let’s take a look at the most dog-friendly national parks in America!

But first, keep these guidelines in mind: In national parks, pets are not allowed on the premises and must always be on a six-foot (or shorter) leash, your pet’s droppings must be properly packaged and disposed of, and pets should not be left inside unauthorized vehicles. observer.

America’s most dog-friendly national parks

Acadia National Park – Min

Ty and Buster on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park – Maine

Located on the coast of Maine, Acadia is one of the dog’s favorite national parks! Pets are welcome on all of the approximately 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of transit routes within the park. The only exceptions are a few trails that require climbing using iron steps or stairs.

Dogs are also allowed in most public areas in Acadia. The only places your pup can’t go are Duck Harbor Campground, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Echo Lake Beach, and Sand Beach during high season (mid-May to mid-September). Everywhere else we welcome your dog to join you – even on the free shuttles that run around the park!

Find out how your dog can be a parker guard in Acadia.

Buster, Tee, and Rod on a wagon track at Acadia National Park Dog Friendly – Maine

Congaree National Park – South Carolina

Dog friendly walkway in Congaree National Park, South Carolina

In order to protect the largest intact area of ​​the ancient bottom hardwood forests that grow in the southeastern United States, Congaree National Park in South Carolina welcomes all visitors and their pets! Leashed pets can join you on all trails, including the boardwalk, as well as at campgrounds.

This floodplain where the Congaree and Wateree Rivers meet supports an astonishing number of plants and animals, including national and state trees. Renting a kayak or canoe allows you to immerse yourself in the ecosystem and observe wildlife from the water.

In the spring most trails are flooded, so plan accordingly. Once the water recedes, the mosquitoes arrive in full force. If you want to enjoy your trip, be sure to pack plenty of insect repellent!

Cuyahoga Valley National Park – Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley National Park Dog Friendly – Ohio

A newer addition to the national park collection, the pet-friendly Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Cleveland, Ohio, was designated in 2000. Beyond the Cuyahoga River, pets are welcome to join you on all of the park’s 125-mile trails.

Passing through woodlands, wetlands, and old fields, some trails require stream junctions with stepping stones or wooden bridges. Others, including the Ohio Trail and Erie Canal Topath, are nearly flat and easily accessible to all visitors. Check with Rangers to determine which trails suit your hiking style.

For the best view, head to Bradford Reservation. This five-mile trail offers views of Tinkers Creek Gorge, Ohio’s coolest valley. Short ledges from the main trail will also take you to Bridal Vale Falls and the Hemlock Creek Loop Trail.

 Visitors with pets should steer clear of the East Rim mountain bike area and scenic railways.

Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona

Buster and Ty – Pet Friendly Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona

The Grand Canyon is our favorite dog friendly national park! Located in northern Arizona, you and your pup are welcome to enjoy all 13 miles of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim Trail.

It’s easy to navigate the trail on the edge of the valley, but remember that the high elevation and dry climate can lead to drought. Even if you’re only planning a short walk, bring plenty of water and a collapsible bowl.

Pets are not allowed on the shuttle buses and can’t come down the ledge, but they are welcome at Mather, Desert View, and Trailer Village Campgrounds, which are pet-friendly rooms at Yavapai Lodge.

If you’re hiking under the rim, take your pup out to the South Rim Kennel.

On the northern edge, pets can walk the bridle path (green road) and part of the Arizona Trail that runs to the entrance station. There is no kennel in this aspect.

Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado

Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado

If we were offering prizes for pet-friendly national parks, the Great Sand Dunes in Southern Colorado would definitely be in the running! These are the tallest sand dunes in North America, located in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, coniferous forests, aspen, alpine lakes and tundra.

Pets are welcome up to the top of the first long ridge of sand dunes, between the High Dune and Castle Creek Picnic Area, and throughout the neighboring Great Sand Dunes National Preserve.

Remember that the sand here can be hot, so pack an old towel to dry and enjoy a splash at Medano Creek with your friend!

Buster at Great Sand Dunes National Park – Colorado

Hot Springs National Park – Arkansas

Rose and Tea Buster – Pet Friendly Hot Springs Park – Arkansas

Pet-friendly Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas may not be on your radar. But if you are looking for a great place with plenty of places to enjoy with your dog, this should be it! Famous for the steamy waters that seep from the lower western slope of Hot Springs Mountain, people have visited this site for centuries.

Bath houses sprang up to allow visitors to take advantage of “curative waters,” and this unique national park protects geothermal spring waters and the historic structures of this ancient resort town.

We welcome your pet to join you on a half-mile hike down Bathhouse Row and along the Grand Promenade . Once you feel warm, hit the 26 miles of interconnected trails that surround the city. Many of the trails were originally created for spa guests, who were encouraged to exercise daily to maximize the spa’s health benefits.

Indiana Dunes National Park – Indiana

Thai and Buster – Pet Friendly Indiana Dunes National Park – Indiana

Cool breezes off Lake Michigan. The blue Caribbean waters roll on the beach. And the beach stretches for miles. These are the things you’ll find at the pet-friendly Indiana Dunes National Park!

It may look like a tropical island, but the 15-mile stretch of sand in Indiana Dunes is just the start. This dynamic landscape has been shaped by receding glaciers, along with the lake and shore, you’ll find sand dunes, ponds, swamps, streams, meadows, and forests. A variety of habitats makes it one of the most botanically diverse national parks.

Leashed pets are welcome on the beaches east of Indiana Dunes State Park, at picnic and campground areas. They can also explore all trails except Glenwood Dune, Great Marsh, and Pinhook Bog.

At nearby Indiana Dunes State Park, leash pets are welcome on all trails, in picnic areas, campground, and on the beach east of the life guard area. Pets cannot go to the swimming beach in the state park.

Dog friendly beach in Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana

Mammoth Cave National Park – Kentucky

Buster and Ty – Mammoth Cave Pet Friendly Park – Kentucky

Of course, the main attraction of pet-friendly Mammoth Cave National Park is the 336 miles of underground trails. But with over 70 miles of pet-friendly trails, this is a great choice for dogs who love the outdoors!

You’ll find many short trails around the visitor center, or check out the Green River Bluffs Trail, which winds through a hardwood forest and ends with a beautiful view of the Green River. If you’re looking for a longer hike, North Side Trails offers some good options that meander past and cut through one of Kentucky’s remaining ancient forests.

When your pup is tired, Mammoth Cave Lodge runs a kennel where your dog can rest while you tour the cave. Or, book a stay at Woodland Cottages or a pet-friendly campground in the park. 

National Mall and Memorial Gardens – Washington DC

Buster & Ty at Pet Friendly National Mall and Memorial Gardens – Washington, DC

Few places in the United States are more inspiring than the pet-friendly National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, DC, where America’s history and future are intertwined, memorials celebrate famous visionaries, and memorials stand in silent memory of the many who gave their lives to preserve our freedom.

The National Mall and Memorial Parks stretch from the US Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, and while pets are not allowed inside most monuments, they’ll enjoy admiring some of the world’s most famous buildings with you!

Natchez Trace National Parkway – Alabama and Mississippi

Natchez Trace National Parkway – Pet Friendly – Alabama & Mississippi

Before highways were built, lanes marked the passage between places, and few traveled as well as the Natchez Trail. Now the pet-friendly Natchez Trace National Parkway preserves sites of archaeological, cultural, historical, natural, recreational, and scenic interest along its 444-mile route.

The Trace is the perfect pet-friendly road trip, because there’s something to smell around every turn! Pets are welcome in over 100 exhibits, but not indoors. And when it’s time to really stretch your legs, the 28 self-guided hiking trails are just steps away.

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve – West Virginia

A new, rugged, white-water river flowing north through deep canyons, it is one of the oldest on the continent. Located in southwest Virginia, New River Gorge National Park and Preserve preserves more than 70,000 acres of land along the river path between the cities of Hinton and Fayetteville.

The park and its surrounding area are rich in cultural and natural history, with an abundance of scenic views and recreational opportunities. Pets are welcome on all trails, including the 2.4-mile Endless Wall Trail with gorgeous vistas into the gorge and the 3.2-mile Grandview Rim Trail. Waterfall lovers won’t want to miss Sandstone and Brooks Falls.

Padre Island National Seashore

Pets are allowed at Padre Island National Beach – Texas

Protecting 70 miles of shoreline, meadows, dunes, and tidal pools along the Gulf of Mexico in southern Texas, Padre Island National Beach is also extremely pet-friendly. Leashed pets are welcome almost everywhere in the park – including 60 miles of beaches!

Padre is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, and the diversity of wildlife found here is astounding. A number of rare, threatened, and endangered species make their homes in this environment, so it is extremely important that pets remain on a leash at all times.

Padre Island offers two well-established campgrounds and over 64 miles of beaches open for primitive camping, so pack your bags and plan to spend a few days exploring this amazing place!

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest Dog Friendly Park – Arizona

From the petrified wood deposits that give this park its name, to the colorful badlands, Petrified Forest National Park is truly a wonder to see. Route 66 is located in eastern Arizona, runs through the park, and the northern boundary extends into the gorgeous Painted Desert.

Leashed dogs are welcome on all park trails, trails, and in official wilderness areas. But be aware that the Petrified Forest is well known for its fossil deposits. So don’t let your dog nibble on any bones it finds!

Miles Roses Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Skyline Drive may be the most popular attraction in Virginia’s pet-friendly Shenandoah National Park. But you definitely want to stop the car and go out for a walk!

Of the park’s more than 500 miles of trails (including the pet-friendly Appalachian Trail), only 20 are off-limits to dogs due to difficult rock climbing or trails. Not only that, dogs are allowed in all campgrounds, retreats and picnic areas. You can access stunning views, peaceful wilderness, and cascading waterfalls for you and your pup. It’s a picture of serenity, only 75 miles from Washington, DC!

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Michigan

Overlooking Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Michigan

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan welcomes you and your pets to enjoy the park together. Hugging the shore of Lake Michigan, the park offers miles of sandy beaches, lush forests, inland lakes, and towering bluffs that provide great views.

A small percentage of the park is closed to pets, as it is a nesting area for plovers. Only 70 pairs of these endangered birds remain in the wild, and a third of them nest on the lake shore. In order to protect them, signs clearly indicate which areas pets can and cannot go to.

White Sands National Park – New Mexico

The name White Sands may be misleading, but this is still one of the most impressive dog-friendly national parks in America! These shimmering dunes are actually made of gypsum – not sand. Thanks to the ancient sea and some very lucky geography, this field of sand dunes is the largest in the world, covering an area of ​​275 square miles.

You and your pet can explore the entire park together, and there are nine miles of trails to check out. The Playa Trail, Dune Life Nature Trail, and Interdune Boardwalk have interesting exhibits on geography, plant and animal life.

For some light-duty fun, bring a sled (or buy one at the visitor center) and sprint down the dunes. Or, if you want to experience the vast expanse of dunefield, walk the Alkali Flat Trail. Know that this lane is not flat. The 5-mile loop runs up and down the dunes all the way through. The hike is arduous, but the views are priceless.

Rangel St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Rangel St. Elias National Park and Preserve is America’s largest national park – equal to six Yellowstones! Within 13.2 million acres, four major mountain ranges converge and nine of the 16 highest peaks in the United States stand covered in glaciers.

There are only two cobbled roads leading into this pet-friendly national park, and both are usually open to all vehicles during the summer months. Leashed dogs are permitted on all trails and in remote areas, in the Kennecott Mines National Historic Landmark District, and on the immediate grounds around call stations, including the Copper Center HQ Visitor Center, Boreal Forest Trail, Chetina Ranger Station, and Slana Ranger Station.

Note that the park recommends keeping your dog on a leash at all times. Baiting is common and legal in Alaska from fall through spring.

Yosemite National Park – California

In Yosemite National Park in California, dogs can join you in all developed areas. This includes paved roads, sidewalks, and bike paths, including the 11.5-mile Yosemite Valley Loop Trail, which winds through Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, Merced River, and Bridalville Falls. Pets can also explore the easy 2.25-mile Wawona Meadow Loop, and are welcome at all campgrounds except for hiking trails and group sites.

Pets can’t go on shuttle buses or at the hostel, but Yosemite Hospitality runs a kennel in Yosemite Valley from about late May through early September. Reservations are recommended for your dog if you want to hit the dirt trails or backpack overnight.

Find out how your dog can be a park ranger in Yosemite.

Other National Parks

We have visited a number of national parks, monuments and sea beaches on our travels with our dogs. And we found a way to enjoy everyone.

Planning a trip to one of these less dog-friendly national parks? Click on his name and find out what we think of him!

Assateague National Seashore – Maryland

Badlands National Park – South Dakota

Big Bend National Park – Texas

Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah

Buffalo River National Park – Arkansas

Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico

Colorado National Monument – Colorado

Crater Lake National Park , Oregon

Dolls Hills National Monument – Iowa

Gateway Arch National Park – Missouri

Glacier National Park – Montana

Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming

Joshua Tree National Park – California

Northern Cascades National Park – Washington

Olympic National Park – Washington

San Juan Islands – Washington

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – North Dakota

Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming

Zion National Park – Utah


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