National parks in the US have long been admired for their picturesque views and long, rambling nature trails. But for those that want to bring furry friends along, it is important to know which national parks allow dogs. And of course, you also need to know which national parks do not allow pets. After all, the joy of nature can only be multiplied when you have a dog with you!
Dogs are naturally curious creatures that love to explore. They are sure to enjoy an outdoor adventure with their beloved owner, no matter where you want to go.
So are any national parks pet friendly? The answer is a resounding yes. You can enjoy picturesque views and happily roam around with your beloved dog in these parks. Many even allow you to camp overnight with your furry best friend.
Continue reading for a list of the most popular dog-friendly national parks in the US.
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Acadia National Park, Maine
With 100 miles of hiking paths and 45 miles of crushed-stone roads available to walk your dog, the Acadia National Park in Maine is definitely one of the most dog-friendly parks in the country. Dogs are allowed in most public areas, including the free shuttles that operate around the park.
You cannot bring your dog near the lakes because they are public natural water sources. The park also restricts dogs from the rung and ladder trails along the cliffs, as they are dangerous. The Duck Harbor Campground and the Wild Gardens of Acadia are the other prohibited areas.
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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
If you’re looking for dog-friendly national parks in Colorado, look no further than the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. It’s the perfect destination for your furry friends that love to play in the sand.
This park allows dogs to hike with you to the top of the highest dune at the first ridge, between High Dune and the Castle Creek Picnic Area, and then tackle the Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. You can then cool off at Medano Creek. This park is also a great place to train sporting dog breeds, given its challenging terrain.
Before going to the park, check the weather forecast for the hottest temperature in the afternoon. Sand can get as hot as 150 degrees Fahrenheit at the peak of summer. Remember that if the sand is too hot for you to touch, it is too hot for your dog to walk.
Yosemite National Park, California
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the USA, and it is very dog-friendly. Dogs are allowed in all the developed areas of the park, including the 11.5-mile Yosemite Valley Loop Trail that passes by Yosemite Falls, El Capitan, the Merced River, and Bridalveil Fall.
Dogs aren’t allowed to ride on the park shuttles, enter buildings, or stay in the lodges. Fortunately, Yosemite Hospitality runs a kennel from late May to early September if you want to plan an overnight backpack trip. Most campgrounds, sidewalks, and scenic pullouts allow dogs as well. You can also enjoy the fairly easy 2.25-mile Wawona Meadow Loop with your dog.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The Grand Canyon is easily one of the most popular national parks that allow dogs. You can bring your fur baby on all 13 miles of the South Rim Trail. Although the path is relatively easy to navigate, make sure to bring enough water for both of you as the dry climate and high elevation can cause dehydration.
Keep in mind that dogs are prohibited from the shuttles. However, they can visit Mather, Desert View, and the Trailer Village Campgrounds, and you can even avail of dog-friendly rooms at the Yavapai Lodge.
If you’re looking to hike into the canyon, make sure to lodge your dog at the South Rim Kennel. Your dog can walk the Bridle Path and the part of the Arizona Trail that runs towards the entrance station, but no kennel is available in this part of the park.
New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia
The New River is one of the oldest rivers in North America. Dogs are allowed on all trails within this park, which gives you many options to choose from.
You can hike the sandstone ridge to view the gorgeous New River Gorge Bridge or walk through a leaf-filled canopy to check out abandoned mining town ruins. The 2.4-mile Endless Wall Trail and the 3.2-mile Grandview Rim Trail are also great options to enjoy a hike with your dog.
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
The White Sands National Park in New Mexico is popular amongst trekkers with dogs because of its dog-friendly policies. Your dogs can roam freely (while on a leash, of course) across the gypsum sand dunes, on the trails, as well as on the off-trail paths. You can also take them to the backcountry campsites to share a gorgeous sunset view with them, with the towering Organ Mountains in the distance.
If you want an educational trek, the Playa Trail, Dune Life Nature Trail, and Interdune Boardwalk have intriguing exhibits that tell you about the geography, plants, and animal life in the area. You can also hike the Alkali Flat Trail, which is a bit strenuous given that it’s not flat, but the views make up for it!
Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Congaree National Park in South Carolina is another favorite for hikers that want to bring their four-legged friend on their trek.
You can take a walk along the 2.4-mile Boardwalk Loop trail or rent a kayak or canoe for a more immersive experience. Make sure to carry insect repellant with you as there are plenty of mosquitoes in this area.
You can take your dog to the park campgrounds, and Carolina Outdoor Adventures welcomes all dogs that can fit in the kayaks during guided trips.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio
Designated as a national park in 2000, the Cuyahoga National Park in Ohio allows dogs on all 125 miles of trails. This includes a scenic trek to Brandywine Falls, the rock formations at the Ledges Trail, and 20 miles of the multi-use Towpath Trail. You will pass through woodlands, wetlands, old fields, and streams.
You can also traverse through historic towns and experience the beautiful flora in this midwestern park. For the most picturesque views, head towards Bradford Reservation with your dog. This 5-mile trail has a fantastic view of the Tinkers Creek Gorge, Ohio’s biggest canyon. You can also take a detour to experience the Bridal Veil Falls and the Hemlock Creek Loop Trail.
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Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas
When you visit Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, you can bring your leashed dog along its 26 miles of trails, with pet-waste stations located on either side of the Bathhouse Row, as well as the campground.
The park is famous for the steaming water that flows from the west slope of Hot Springs Mountain, with the bathhouses springing up to let visitors experience the “healing waters”. This unique national park is credited with protecting the geothermal spring water.
Note that dogs are not allowed to go inside the park buildings or the bathhouses.
Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
If you’re looking for a nice cold breeze, with Caribbean blue waters rolling up the shore and a beach that goes for miles, the dog-friendly Indiana Dunes National Park should be on your list of places to visit.
You can take your leashed dog to the beaches east of Indiana Dunes State Park, in the picnic areas, as well as the campgrounds. Your dog can also explore all the trails with you, except for the Glenwood Dune, Great March, and Pinhook Bog. Note that dogs are prohibited from the swimming beach at the park.
Now you know which national parks allow dogs. This list only covered ten of the most popular ones; some more excellent options for your next trip include:
- Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada
- Badlands National Park, South Dakota
- Capitol Reef National Park, Utah
- Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
- Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
- Gateway Arch National Park, Missouri
Before you leave for your trip, do your research and note which parts of the park your dog can’t enter. You can plan your miles-long treks and hikes with these special areas in mind. And of course, you must also make sure to bring all the necessities for a fun and worry-free expedition with your dog.
No matter which part of the country you want to explore—sand dunes, beaches, canyons, forests, and rivers—you can certainly find the perfect location for many unforgettable moments with your furry best friend!