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Top 10 Dog-Friendly National Parks in the U.S.

Dog at a national park

There are 429 national parks throughout the 50 states in the US, covering an impressive 85 million acres. People from all over the world visit the parks to appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors and learn about wildlife, natural resources, and various cultures. Bringing your dog with you is a wonderful way to experience these protected areas, but make sure you know which national parks are pet-friendly.

10 National Parks to Enjoy with Your Dog

Most national parks welcome dogs in various developed areas, including trails and campgrounds. Some parks also allow dogs to stay with you in their cabins or similar lodging facilities, usually for an additional fee. The National Park Service (NPS) even has a program that lets you make your dog a B.A.R.K Ranger.

The B.A.R.K Ranger program reminds visitors to know the rules regarding pets in the park. These guidelines include things like picking up after their pets, respecting wildlife and always keeping dogs on a leash. The program also sponsors various dog-centered activities and gives a special leash tag to your pup once you complete the B.A.R.K. Ranger booklet.

Although most of the parks allow pets, some are considered more pet-friendly than others, with areas and programs that cater to dogs. Depending on how you plan to spend your time in the park, you may prefer one of these destinations. For example, if you prefer to stay overnight in a cabin, you’d want to find a park that offers pet-friendly lodging.

As mentioned, there are national parks in every state in the US. Therefore, it’s easy to explore one (or a few), no matter what part of the country you’re living in or visiting. Here are some of the most popular dog-friendly national parks, covering different regions in the United States.

1. Acadia National Park (Maine)

Acadia National Park is one of the country’s most visited parks, featuring hiking trails, camping, stargazing, boating, and more. Located along Maine’s Atlantic coastline, the park offers freshwater and ocean swimming opportunities, historic lighthouses, and intriguing tidepools. 

Dogs can explore over 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads. Your pup can also join you at the Blackwoods, Schoodic Woods, and Seawall campgrounds. Several trails do not permit pets and some are not recommended for dogs.

2. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

Head to Northern Arizona to visit Grand Canyon National Park, which includes 278 miles of the Colorado River. Enjoy hiking, backpacking overnight (with a permit), biking, and a slew of other recreational activities. Dogs are allowed on many of the trails, but not any below the Canyon rim.

Go camping with your dog at Trailer Village, Mather or Desert View Campgrounds, or stay at the in-park Yavapai Lodge, which offers pet-friendly rooms. There’s also the option to board your furry friends at the Grand Canyon Kennel.

3. Cuyahoga National Park (Ohio)

You’d never know that Cuyahoga National Park is only moments from Cleveland. There are over 150 miles of hiking trails, horseback riding, biking, golf, and a variety of winter sports. Enjoy a picnic, take a scenic train ride, or go fishing.

Fido can tag along on over 100 miles of hiking trails, which offer both easy, short trips and longer excursions. Although your pup can’t enter any park buildings or the Scenic Railroad, service animals are welcome. However, no pets, including service animals, are permitted on the East Rim mountain bike trails.

4. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

Relax in the thermal springs of Hot Springs National Park or take a sip or two of ancient water. This beautiful park sits in the middle of the town and has 26 miles of hiking trails and a campground. Guests love visiting the historic bathhouses and learning about the area’s culture and history.

Pets aren’t allowed in buildings (with the exception of service animals), but your pup can explore all of the trails. Stop by the Visitor Center to find out how your dog can become a B.A.R.K. Ranger.

5. Yosemite National Park (California)

Yosemite National Park covers roughly 1,200 square miles and boasts towering sequoias, vast wilderness, and impressive waterfalls. Camping, 750 miles of hiking trails, water activities, rock climbing, and horseback riding are just a few of the things to do.

Dogs can’t go hiking on the trails in Yosemite, but they are allowed on all paved roads, sidewalks, and designated bicycle paths. Your pup can also stay in most of the campgrounds, except for group and walk-in sites. Pets are not allowed inside buildings, lodgings, or on the shuttle buses.

6. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

You’ll find Shenandoah National Park only 75 miles from Washington, D.C, sprawling across 200,000 acres. Observe wildlife, drive Skyline Drive, go backcountry camping, bike, or fish.

Dogs are welcome on almost all 500 miles of hiking trails. There are just a handful of trails that don’t permit pups, but they total only 26 miles. The campgrounds are also open to dogs, and there are pet-friendly lodging options.  

7. Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)

Great Sand Dunes National Park welcomes visitors 24/7 with no limitations or need to make reservations. Go sand sledding on the tallest dunes in North America, enjoy horseback riding or fishing, or camp out at night under a brilliant, starry sky.

Dogs are welcome in many areas of the park, but not in backpacking campsites, buildings, or certain trails. In the hot summer months, the sand reaches temperatures of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. So plan to get some booties for your pup and walk during the cooler morning or evening hours.

8. North Cascades National Park (Washington)

North Cascades National Park offers a variety of camping options, fishing, boating, and ranger programs. Relax as you enjoy a leisurely, scenic stroll, or challenge yourself on more mountainous terrain. Dogs are allowed on the Pacific Crest Trail and inside the Lake Chelan and Ross Lake recreation areas.

9. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)

Voyageurs National Park provides ample opportunities for hiking, guided canoe trips, and camping across its 218,055 acres. During the winter, visitors also enjoy snowshoeing, skiing, and even dog sledding (with the appropriate permit).

The park allows dogs in the frontcountry campsites, near visitor centers, and on the recreation trail leading to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. Only service animals are allowed on the tour boats.

10. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

Hopkins, South Carolina, is home to this 26,692-acre protected area that didn’t receive official designation until 2003. It has a rich history and is classified as an old-growth forest. The pet-friendly Congaree National Park allows dogs on all trails, the boardwalk, and the campgrounds.

Camping with your dog

Things to Remember When Bringing Your Dog to a National Park

Before you set out on your national park adventure with your dog, use these tips to prepare and make the most of your visit.

  • Verify your dog can join you in your selected park. Bring Fido is a good resource to discover all the places your dog can go. But it’s best to contact the park directly or check their website.
  • Don’t forget your pup’s supplies, including food, water, bowls, necessary medications, a leash, and poop bags. Consider things like doggy bug spray, sunscreen, a pet first-aid kit, and booties to keep your furry friend safe and comfortable.
  • Know your pet’s limits and plan a visit that is healthy and appropriate.
  • Proper training is vital before taking your dog on outings in public, including parks. It’s important for your dog to follow basic commands, feel at ease around others, and know how to walk on a leash. Also, practice for any special activities, like swimming or lengthy trail hikes.
  • Update your pet’s ID Tags and microchip information. Consider getting your dog microchipped if they aren’t already.
  • How is your dog on a road trip? If you plan to drive some distance to reach the park, make sure Fido can handle the drive.

National Parks for Pups

These ten dog-friendly national parks only scratch the surface of the breathtaking natural wonderlands you can explore with your furry pal. Other excellent options are Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, Wrangell - St. Elias National Park in Alaska and White Sands National Park in New Mexico.

It’s easy to find dog-friendly hiking trails, fun canine-compatible activities, and relaxing ways to unwind with your favorite bundle of fur. Ready to start exploring? Check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog to find all the information you need to prepare you and your pup for your outdoor adventure.



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