Are U.S. National Parks Dog-Friendly?
Do you love exploring the great outdoors with your furry best friend? Me too! But before you take your pup for a hike, you’ll want to make sure the park and trail are dog-friendly.
The National Parks across the U.S. are truly majestic. Sadly, though, they do not all welcome dogs. And those that do, may only allow them on specific trails. We did a little research to make sure you know before you go.
Which National Parks Do Not Allow Dogs?
There are 63 National Parks across the United States, but only 16 of them allow dogs on some or all of their trails. And a few parks will allow dogs to accompany you in certain developed spaces of the park like a campground or picnic area—but not actually on the trails.
Even though this may seem like a bummer for dog-lovers, there are still plenty of places you can bring your pup for a hike.
Why So Many National Parks Are Not Dog-Friendly
Although we may not be too happy about our dogs not being allowed in all National Parks, they do have their reasons.
- Dogs bark and can scare or disturb the wildlife.
- Dogs can chase wildlife away from their “nesting, feeding, and resting sites. A dog’s scent can signal the presence of a predator, which may alter the behavior of park wildlife. Small animals may hide in their burrow the entire day after smelling a dog and may not venture out to feed.”
- If a dog gets off-leash or is uncontrolled, they can scare or harm other humans.
- Dogs can carry disease into the wildlife population.
- Dogs may become prey for larger animals. “If your dog disturbs and enrages a bear, it may lead the angry bear directly to you.”
- Dogs can encounter poisonous plants or contract a disease from an insect bite.
Are Dogs Allowed in U.S. National Forests?
Great news: dogs are allowed in all 154 of the United States National Forests! You may not be as familiar with the National Forests as the National Parks, but don’t let that deter you from checking them out. These places are beautiful and offer ample hiking opportunities too. Many of them are located near a National Park, so you can enjoy both in one visit!
Just remember to keep your dog on-leash—no more than 6 feet long—and always clean up after them. If you follow those simple rules, National Forests are incredibly dog-friendly. They’ll welcome your pup with open arms!
Which National Parks Are the Most Dog-Friendly?
All of the National Parks listed below are great for dogs! Most of them will allow your dog to hike with you throughout the entire park. And those that don’t still offer a large number of dog-friendly hiking trails. The only dog-friendly National Park with only a handful of pet-friendly trails is Olympic National Park. Olympic does offer several dog-friendly hiking trails… just not nearly as many as the others listed below.
- Bag Your Pet’s Waste
Cleaning up after your dog helps keep the parks clean. Plus, your dog’s waste is a “non-native element” in the park’s ecosystem, and we want to respect the health and well-being of the wildlife.
- Always Leash Your Pet
Pets must remain on-leash at all times, with a maximum leash length of 6 feet. This protects other wildlife, people, and canines from your dog (and vice versa!).
- Respect Wildlife
Letting your dog approach any wildlife can be extremely dangerous. Depending on the park, you could encounter animals like grizzly bears, mountain lions, or rattlesnakes. So, you must have reasonable physical control over your dog’s leash and reliable voice control over your dog’s behavior.
- Know Where You Can Go
Before you hit the trails, stop by the visitor center to ask the park rangers where dogs are allowed. Plus, it’s always a good idea to grab a map of the trails.
Complete List of Dog-Friendly National Parks in the U.S.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: the complete list of dog-friendly National Parks that you and your pup will love! Pick your favorite, plan your next hiking trip, and take your furry best friend with you.
- Acadia National Park, ME
Acadia has more than 100 miles of dog-friendly trails and plenty of dog-friendly campgrounds. Plus, you’ll love the beautiful towns surrounding it, especially Bar Harbor.
- Congaree National Park, SC
Congaree allows dogs to be on all of their hiking trails and in all of their campgrounds. And make sure to check out the wetlands and floodplains in the largest old-growth hardwood forest in the southeastern United States.
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park, OH
Cuyahoga Valley is entirely dog-friendly and has a river in which your dog will love to splash and swim. The U.S. National Parks added this park in 2000.
- Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Going to the Grand Canyon with your pup? Great! This park allows dogs on all developed areas, the campgrounds, all 13 miles of the South Rim Trail, and even inside the Yavapai Lodge.
- Great Sand Dunes National Park, CO
The Great Sand Dunes are dog-friendly and allow pups on all of the trails, in the campgrounds, on sand dunes, and in the Medano Creek.
- Hot Springs National Park, AR
Hot Springs National Park is completely dog-friendly and allows dogs in its campgrounds and on its trails. And you can enjoy walking your dog downtown along the historic Bathhouse Row, as it’s one of the few urban National Parks.
- Indiana Dunes National Park, IN
Dogs are welcome to enjoy the Indiana Dunes with you on the beaches, at the campgrounds, and on the trials. You can explore the ponds, marshes, creeks, forests, and Lake Michigan together.
- Mammoth Cave National Park, KY
Mammoth Cave has over 70 miles of dog-friendly trails throughout the forest. But dogs are not allowed below ground in the caves.
- New River Gorge National Park & Preserve, WV
New River Gorge just recently became a National Park in 2021. And despite its name, the New River is actually one of the oldest rivers on Earth. This park is completely dog-friendly, so you and your pup can enjoy it all together.
- North Cascades National Park, WA
North Cascades National Park is partially dog-friendly. It contains 18 miles of the pet-friendly Pacific Crest Trail, which travels from Mexico to Canada.
- Olympic National Park, WA
Olympic National Park doesn’t offer quite as many dog-friendly trails and spaces as these other pet-friendly National Parks, but it still provides several dog-friendly trails that you and your canine can journey together.
- Padre Island National Seashore, TX
Padre Island National Seashore is a National Park, and it’s located just outside of Corpus Christi. Here you’ll find 60 miles of dog-friendly beaches where your crazy canine will love splashing, swimming, and playing.
- Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
The Petrified Forest—named from the petrified wood found here—is a completely dog-friendly National Park. Not only will you enjoy hiking with your pup here, but you may even find some fossils too.
- Shenandoah National Park, VA
Most of Shenandoah National Park is dog-friendly. Only 20 miles of it are not pet-friendly because of the difficulty and rock climbing. Just avoid those trails, and you’ll be good to go!
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore became a National Park in 1970. It is completely dog-friendly, and your canine is allowed everywhere except for a small area inhabited by endangered birds.
- White Sands National Park, NM
The White Sands National Park is also completely dog-friendly. You and your pooch can check out the dunes and hike all of the trails together.
There are a few National Parks like Yosemite, Rocky Mountain, Zion and the Badlands that are not especially dog-friendly, though your pup is allowed to join you in certain developed areas like campgrounds and picnic areas.
Looking for more articles about dog-friendly activities and pet-parenting advice? Check out the Blog at TheDailyDog.com.