A Dog Lover's Guide to 13 of the Most Pet Friendly National Parks

A Dog Lover's Guide to 13 of the Most Pet Friendly National Parks

Hey there, fellow outdoor enthusiasts!

If you're anything like us, your furry companion is more than just a pet—they're your adventure buddy, your confidante, and a source of joy. And when it comes to exploring the great outdoors, having them by your side makes every hike, trail, and scenic overlook just a little bit sweeter.

Before we dive into the  adventures awaiting you and your pup in national parks across the U.S., let's go over some general rules of thumb that apply at pretty much all the national parks:

General National Park Pet Policies:

  1. Dogs must be leashed at all times on leashes 6ft or shorter.
  2. Dogs are not allowed in any of the federal buildings. If you’re not sure, just check with a park ranger.
  3. Keep your distance from the wildlife, which means no squirrel chasing for your furry friend.
  4. Clean up after your dog, and bonus points if you use biodegradable bags.

Now that we've got the basics covered, let's get started! But before you pack your bags and hit the road, it's always a good idea to check out The National Park Service's Interactive Map to see which parks allow dogs and what their specific rules are.

Acadia National Park - Maine

With 100 miles of trails and 45 miles of carriage roads open to dogs, there's no shortage of places to explore. Just keep in mind that some trails may require a little extra effort, with climbing iron rungs or ladders. Pets are permitted at Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds, but remember to leash up for those beach days – dogs aren't allowed at Sand Beach (June 15-Sept 8)  or Echo Lake Beach during peak season (May 15-Sept 15). On Isle au Haut, pets are permitted for day hiking only, so plan accordingly for your furry friend's adventure. Most lakes in the park are public water supplies, so pets and people may not swim in them. Additionally, dogs are not allowed in the Wild Gardens of Acadia (Sieur de Monts) or Duck Harbor Campground. To find out which trails are closed to or not recommended for pets visit the National Park Service's visiting with pets page for Acadia National Park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley National Park boasts 110 miles of dog-friendly trails, including the historic Towpath Trail. While your furry friends are welcome to join you on most adventures, be aware that the East Rim Mountain bike area and Scenic Railroad are off-limits to pups. Head over to the National Park Service's Cuyahoga Valley National Park pet policies page to find a comprehensive list of rules as well as suggestions for hikes by length.

Congaree National Park - South Carolina

Congaree National Park welcomes dogs with open arms. You and your furry companions can roam freely on all park trails and boardwalks, making memories amidst the stunning natural beauty. Head over to the Congaree National Park's pets page to find safety tips and tricks for traveling the park with your furry friend.


Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona

While dogs are allowed on certain trails, including those along the South Rim and the Bridle Path, they're not permitted below the canyon's rim. Opt for the South Rim if you're bringing your pup along – it's home to the Grand Canyon Kennel and pet-friendly accommodations. Yavapai Lodge is the only in-park lodge that has pet-friendly rooms. Additionally, pets are allowed at Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, Trailer Village, and throughout developed areas. However, keep in mind that dogs are not allowed on the shuttle buses, so plan accordingly for transportation within the park. Check out the National Park Service's Grand Canyon National Park pets page for more specific information.

Dog at Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park - Colorado

Pets are permitted in the Preserve, which includes trails like the Mosca Pass Trail, as well as in the main use areas of the Park, such as Piñon Flats Campground and the Dunes Overlook Trail. You can also bring your pup along for a drive along the Medano Pass Primitive Road, soaking in the stunning scenery together. Just be mindful of the hot sand as you explore this natural wonderland! Check out the National Park Service's Great Sand Dunes National Park pets page for helpful maps and tips for visiting the park with your pet.

credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hot_Springs_National_Park_007.jpg

Hot Springs National Park - Arkansas

Arkansas' Hot Springs National Park boasts 26 miles of dog-friendly trails, perfect for exploring with your four-legged friend. And with pet wet stations conveniently located along Bathhouse Row, you can keep your pup feeling fresh and clean after a day of adventuring. Check out the National Park Service's Hot Springs National Park pets page for park alerts and tips before you travel.


Indiana Dunes

Indiana Dunes National Park offers a picturesque retreat for you and your furry companions. While most trails are fair game, a few, like the Glenwood Dune Trail and Pinhook Bog Trail, are off-limits to dogs. But fear not – there are plenty of lakeside beaches and picnic areas where your pups can stretch their legs. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, pets are prohibited on the West Beach within the lifeguarded area. Additionally, pets must be on a leash at all times, even when swimming in the lake. Check out the National Park Service's Indiana Dunes National Park pets page for more information and specific policies.


Mammoth Cave National Park - Kentucky

While your pup can't join you on cave tours in Kentucky's Mammoth Cave National Park, there are still 70 miles of trails to discover together. And if you need to go underground sans pooch, Mammoth Cave Lodge offers a kennel service so your furry friend can stay safe and sound. Additionally, The Woodland Cottages at the Mammoth Cave Lodge are the only in-park lodging that has pet-friendly rooms, providing you and your pet a comfortable stay amidst the park's natural wonders. Check the National Park Service's Mammoth Cave National Park pets page for safety tips and more info on the day-kennel services.


New River Gorge - West Virginia

West Virginia's New River Gorge National Park welcomes dogs on all in-park trails, including must-see spots like the Endless Wall Trail and Grandview Rim Trail. So pack your hiking boots and leash up your pup for a day of adventure in the Mountain State. Check the National Park Service's New River Gorge National Park pets page for any alerts before you go.


Petrified Forest National Park - Arizona

In Arizona's Petrified Forest National Park, dogs are welcome on all trails and roads, as well as in official wilderness areas. So whether you're marveling at ancient petrified wood or taking in the stunning desert landscape, your furry friend can join in on the fun. Visit the National Park Service's Petrified Forest National Park pets page to learn more about their B.A.R.K Ranger program.


Shenandoah National Park - Virginia

Virginia's Shenandoah National Park boasts 480 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails, making it the perfect destination for you and your pup. And with dog-friendly campgrounds scattered throughout the park, you can extend your adventure under the stars. Check out the National Park Service's Shenandoah National Park pets page to view the list of 11 trails that dogs are not allowed on and view any alerts in effect.

White Sands - New Mexico

In New Mexico's White Sands National Park, your pup can explore 9 miles of in-park trails and even romp around on the White Dunes. Just be cautious of the hot sand, especially during warmer months, and consider protecting your pup's paws with booties. Check out the National Park Service's White Sands National Park pets page for tips on how to keep your furry friend safe when visiting.


Wrangell - St. Elias National Park and Preserve - Alaska

Last but certainly not least, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska welcomes leashed dogs on all trails. Just be sure to plan your visit during the summer months when roads are passable, and keep a close eye on your furry friend, especially during trapping season. Check out the National Park Service's Wrangell - St. Elias National Park & Preserve pets page for a full list of rules and regulations.

So there you have it, friends—your guide to dog-friendly national parks across the country. Grab your pup, hit the trails, and make memories that'll last a lifetime. Happy adventuring!

And hey, if you're looking to track your adventures to all the different national parks, don't forget to check out our National Park Travel Tracking Map. It's the perfect companion for mapping out your journeys and marking off the parks you've explored. 

National Park Travel Tracker Map


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