One of the greatest parts about living in the United States is the abundance of open land for us to explore. If you like to spend any amount of time outdoors, you’ve probably been to or at least heard of the National Parks.
But can dogs visit National Parks? Exploring the scenes and sights of our National Parks just wouldn’t be the same without Fido.
Here, we’ll lay out some great ideas of where in the National Parks you can take your dog. Read on and start your own adventure!
Can Dogs Visit National Parks?
You’re obviously reading this because you want to know if dogs can visit National Parks. The short answer is: it depends.
Most National Parks allow dogs to visit as long as they follow the rules. If you are unsure if you will be able to bring your pup to your nearest National Park, check out the National Parks Service website. Here, they have a map that displays all the National Parks.
Parks that allow dogs are colored with green while parks that do not allow dogs are colored red. If you take a quick look over the map, you can see that there are very few parks that do not allow pets. That means that no matter where you live or wherever you are vacationing, you’re not far from a park where you can bring your dog. There will be rules that vary form park to park, however.
Where are Dogs Allowed in National Parks?
Now for the caveat. Dogs are allowed in most National Parks, but they are not allowed to go everywhere. Most parks have a pet policy that does not allow dogs on trails. So, if you’re planning to hike, you’ll need alternative plans for your dog.
Also, dogs are not allowed in swimming areas and buildings. The Code of Federal Regulations stipulates, “Possessing a pet in a public building, public transportation vehicle, or location designated as a swimming beach, or any structure or area closed to the possession of pets by the superintendent. This subparagraph shall not apply to guide dogs accompanying visually impaired persons or hearing ear dogs accompanying hearing-impaired persons.”
So, we suggest that before you travel, read the specific park’s pet policy.
In an effort to encourage safety for pets and their owners, the National Parks System encourages visitors to be B.A.R.K. Rangers which is an acronym:
- Bag your pet’s waste
- Always leash your pet
- Respect wildlife
- Know where you can go
These are good general guidelines for taking your pet outdoors. If you want to enjoy National Parks with your dog, be sure to follow the rules.
National Parks to Visit
There are plenty of dog-friendly national parks. Here are some of the five of the most popular:
1. Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)
Dogs and owners can use all 13 miles of trails together. For an active pet, this is the National Park to visit. Just a reminder, the elevation is high, and the climate is dry. So, bring plenty of water and be prepared to take breaks!
2. Great Sand Dunes National Park (Colorado)
As one of the tallest sand dunes in America, this park is a fun one for people and pets alike! The rule here is that dogs can visit the top of the first dune ridge. Remember: hot sand can burn paws.
3. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)
People are attracted to this National Park for its over 300 miles of underground trails. However, dogs aren’t allowed underground. Instead, explore the over 70 miles of trails with your pup!
4. Acadia National Park (Maine)
This beautiful National Park allows dogs on almost ALL of their trails except the ones with ladders and such. During the busy season, there will be some areas and campgrounds that are off limits to dogs. Be sure to read the fine print before you go.
5. Badlands National Park (Sound Dakota)
Although pets are not allowed on the hiking trails here, they are allowed in campgrounds and other developed areas if they are on a leash. Therefore, if you plan to stay at his National Park, make sure you have plans to secure your pet if you choose to go hiking.
Enjoy travel with your dog and stay safe!