Don’t Leave Fido at Home

Explore These 7 Dog-Friendly National Parks
A man and woman with a black Labrador Retriever on an unpaved road, with mountains and a blue sky in the distance.
Visitors with dog at Death Valley National Park - NPS Photo / Kurt Moses

There's no better companion in the outdoors than your trusted canine friend but visiting a national park with your dog can sometimes present a challenge.

In most parks, pets are not allowed on trails and in wilderness areas — this is for their own protection as well as that of the local plant and animal life. But there are some areas within national parks that are pet-friendly, where you can spend quality time with man's best friend. Explore just some of the national parks that welcome pets, and remember — it's important to follow B.A.R.K. ranger principles when taking your pet on a park trip!

Acadia National Park



Few pet-friendly national parks offer more opportunities to take a hike with your pooch than Acadia National Park. Spanning several islands along the rugged Maine coast, Acadia National Park features 100 miles of pet-friendly hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads where leashed pets are welcome. Dogs are also permitted at the Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds, and on Isle au Haut for day hiking.

Ticks are prevalent in this park, especially from late spring to early fall. To limit your exposure to ticks, walk in the middle of trails, away from vegetation, wear light-colored clothing to make them easier to spot, tuck your pants into your socks, and use repellent on your shoes and clothing (vest and bandana repellents for dogs are also available!). Make sure to check yourself and your dog thoroughly for ticks after a visit to Acadia.

Yosemite National Park

A person walking two dogs on the paved bike path to Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park
National Park Service

Pet visitors to Yosemite National Park can enjoy walks along fully paved roads, sidewalks, and bicycle paths (except those signed as not allowing pets), as well as visits to developed areas and campgrounds (except walk-in campgrounds). Leashed pets are also allowed on the Wawona Meadow Loop trail, an easy-going 3.5-mile trail where you can spot wildflowers blooming in the spring months.

Yosemite is home to hundreds of bears, so it's important to remember that pet food is also bear food. Make sure to pack and store your pet food as if it were human food to ensure that you don't have an uninvited furry friend joining your trip.

Shenandoah National Park

Autumnal leaves sprinkle the ground and a wooden bridge that crosses over a calm creek.

Bridge at Whiteoak Canyon at Shenandoah National Park

NPS Photo / SNP - Katy Cain

Of the 500 miles of marked hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park, only 20 are off-limits to pets, giving you and Fido plenty of room to explore. Some of the best short hikes to take with your dog are accessible along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. Pets are allowed at Shenandoah's campgrounds as well, and the park even has pet-friendly lodging available. 

In Shenandoah, as well as any other pet-friendly park, make sure you follow the first principle of a B.A.R.K. ranger and bag your pet's waste! Be sure to have a bag or canister to put it in until you find a trash can — do not leave waste bags in trees, on trail posts, or discarded in the woods.

North Cascades National Park

A dog sitting in front of the North Cascades National Park entrance sign
National Park Service

Another important B.A.R.K. principle is 'Know Where to Go," and in North Cascades National Park, this is critical. While pets are not permitted throughout most of the park, they are allowed on the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the park's most challenging and spectacularly scenic footpaths. The Pacific Crest Trail stretches all the way down to Southern California and provides a rare opportunity to take your dog on an overnight backpacking trip.

If you're in the area but Pacific Crest Trail is too challenging for you, try nearby pet-friendly spots. Leashed pets are permitted in the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas, which share borders with North Cascades National Park. Pets are also allowed on most surrounding national forest lands.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Dog on a paved trail near a river running under a tall bridge

Dog along a paved trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

NPS Photo / Victoria Stauffenberg

The lush forests and rolling meadows of Cuyahoga Valley National Park are cozy and familiar and, best of all, Cuyahoga is a park that allows dogs. Four-legged friends are permitted throughout 110 miles of the park's hiking trails, including the 20-miles of the Towpath Trail, which follows the course of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal. Pets are not allowed on the park's Scenic Railroad Train, so make sure to enjoy that on a separate visit!

Like in Acadia, ticks can be found in the tall grasses, ground cover, and near structures or woodpiles in this park from spring to fall. Avoid such areas when hiking the trails with your pet and be sure to take the necessary precautions to keep you and your pet safe when visiting the park.

Mammoth Cave National Park

A dog sitting with his owner and a park ranger outside the Mammoth Cave National Park Visitor Center
National Park Service

With the exception of designated service animals, dogs aren't allowed in the caves, which means they miss out on Mammoth Cave National Park's main attraction. However, pets are quite welcome on the park's above-ground hiking trails and in the park's pet-friendly Woodland Cottages. Pets may be day boarded at the Mammoth Cave Kennels if you're planning on a multi-day visit to the park and want to explore the caves yourself. 

Another B.A.R.K. ranger principle is to respect wildlife, and that's especially true if you're enjoying a backcountry trail with your pet at this park. Pets and their owners may encounter horse riders on backcountry trails. It's important to move yourself and your pet to the side of the trail and keep your pet calm as riders pass by to keep everyone safe and enjoying their visit!

Grand Canyon National Park

Dog wearing a Grand Canyon ranger hat sitting at the rim at Grand Canyon National Park
E Huggs/NPS

Pets are not permitted below the rim of the Grand Canyon, but you can take your dog for a stroll on any of the hiking trails that stay above the perimeter, including the spectacular South Rim Trail. Pets can also enjoy trips to Mather and Desert View campgrounds, Trailer Village, or throughout developed areas. Yavapai Lodge even offers pet-friendly rooms. 

Safety is a major concern around the canyon, so follow the B.A.R.K. principle of "Always Wear a Leash" to keep your pets safe when visiting Grand Canyon National Park. Pets are not allowed on park shuttle buses, so make sure to plan ahead. The park even offers a kennel for dogs near the South Rim Trail; please note that proof of pet vaccinations are required upon entering the kennel.

Requirements for visiting a national park with your dog vary, so be sure to check each park's regulations before you visit. In most cases, pets must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Even in parks less pet-friendly than those listed here, leashed dogs are still permitted on roads and in developed campgrounds. Make sure you've brought enough water for yourself and your pet, and don't forget those B.A.R.K. ranger principles!

Photo credits: Loki the @AdventureBeagle at Acadia National Park by @JasonHeritage; National Park Service

Last updated March 22, 2021.


As federal tax payers/annual pass holders with pets, if you are going to exclude us from using 90% of the NPS lands then we should have our taxes and pass fees reduced accordingly. I don’t like paying for something that the government then restricts me from using. Another commenter mentioned the “wildlife poop”. We should remember that horses and burros were introduced by humans to North America - they are exotic and invasive species. I was in Canyonlands backcountry recently and the main trail was covered in horse and burro scat. It was practically every 10 feet of the trail. Dogs don’t litter the trails with water bottles and food wrappers, dogs don’t smoke cigarettes and use nature as an ashtray, dogs don’t start forest fires, and dogs are not causing climate change. These lands were set aside to protect them from being destroyed by people not pets!
I have read the reasoning for dogs not being allowed on trails and they site very rare incidents of encounters with wildlife where most of the incidents do not result in fatalities or injuries. I have hiked NP trails where horses are allowed but not dogs… Please explain to me how a horse is any better for a trail than a dog. The horses crap everywhere and the owners leave it in the middle of the trail. Horses can bite and disturb wild life. Humans and especially children are more dangerous on trails than dogs. Leaving trash, stomping plants, disturbing wildlife, and attacking other humans at a much higher rate than dogs. It seems to me national parks are not allowing dogs on trails based on isolated incidents and it’s costing them thousands of visitors per year as pet owners would rather go on a trail with their pet than to a national park.
I COMPLETELY agree with you. Stepping in horse crap all over a trail is much more annoying than seeing other leashed dogs on a trail. People litter, especially during Covid, I can’t even count the number of face masks I picked up off of trails. I don’t see ANY reason why a leashed dog cannot be let on a trail, when horses go by, I ALWAYS move myself and my dogs off trail to let them pass and give them enough space so they aren’t spooked by my dogs. (My dogs completely ignore them and show absolutely no interest in the horses). I think this rule needs to be revised to allow leashed and well behaved dogs on trail. I know for a fact, if dogs were allowed on trail, many more people would visit the parks and increase their revenue. Can we start a petition?! I’ll sign it now!
I certainly understand all the pros and cons of taking ones pet, especially dogs, traveling in a camper of any sort to see " America the Beautiful" in it's natural state is a challenge. I have had to bypass many National parks that entailed venturing out of a parking lot and onto a trail to see the " Good stuff". I cannot leave Molly in the RV for more than fifteen minutes nor can I venture out of the parking lot with her. So I tend to just drive through grabbing a mediocre photo as best I can. Consequentially we head for the national forests, finding a spot out away from other campers and let her go. She is in heaven tasting the forests and streams through her nose. I miss a lot but I get as much enjoyment from watching her as I probably would watching Old Faithful erupt.
FYI, you can take your dog to old Faithful, but just not on the boardwalk around it. Plenty of room to watch it go off, but the rest of the park is pretty much off limits.
The website for Gettysburg says dogs are allowed except for the visitors center, soldiers cemetery, and buildings. So it came as a rude surprise today when we had to call off our camping trip because apparently McMillan Woods has an unposted, unadvertised strict no dogs in the campground policy. The NPS needs to get its stuff together, methinks.
I have to say it's getting really discouraging that it seems the dog police are everywhere now. From National Parks to local trails always the warnings about dogs: NO DOGS ALLOWED!, DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH AT ALL TIMES!, $500 FINE IF YOUR DOG POOPS! I mean can we get a grip?? I totally understand about not wanting dogs to chase the wildlife, but most dogs that I've seen off leash on trails stay with their owners. So once again Everyone are being penalized for the few jerks out there. And the dog police themselves are often jerks too in my experience. They seem to just purely Love enforcing their petty rules and playing cop. Hey people, dog poop is natural, been here millions and millions of years contributing to the environment in a good way. But your little plastic bags that you have now positioned at every conceivable place a person might want to walk their dog, which bags then end up on the ground with the poop in them are Not natural. Can you people please lighten up a bit? Please??? Or get a life. Seriously, what's next, cameras lining the trails just to Make Sure we are all kept in line? It's become an Orwellian world.
If your dog has ever been attacked or overwhelmed by other's who off leash their "well behaved" (?) You understand the leash laws in NP system. Also GSMNP, Yellowstone NP have seen some real damage to wild life from escaping "off leash" pets. No, today's dog poop is not environmentally friendly due to commercial dog food ingredients and is very unpleasant to step in when fully loaded up with backpacks in the back country. "Pack it in, Pack it out, leave NO trace includes dog feces.....please don't ruin the experience of our park system for everyone else!
Agreed. My fear is that off-leash ill-mannered dogs and leaving piles of poop everywhere could make fewer and fewer places dog-friendly. Maybe it would help to know that dog poop is the third most common contaminant of ground water. I carry odor proof bags so I can hike until I get to a garbage can without smelling the poop. In addition, dog owners need to know that not all people like dogs. Some are terrified of them and that should be taken into consideration. Some people have wonderful hiking dogs who are very well-trained with a bulletproof come on recall. In my experience, these well-trained dogs are in the minority.
Keeping a dog on a leash while hiking benefits the wildlife (whose home you are visiting) and can help keep your dog safe. While hiking in a state parks in northern Minnesota, we unexpectedly came upon a large porcupine. Our normally mild-mannered dog went crazy as the porcupine slowly climbed a tree to escape. If our dog had not been on a leash, she would have received a face full of quills. That said, I think a six-foot leash is too short.
Rules are there for obvious reasons yes dog poop is natural but we can't have trails littered in it. If these rules weren't in place just imagine how many folks and there beloved poop machine will be on trail because owners don't want to bag it out properly because you "want it to be part of the earth".
Exactly,we’ll said. People won’t pick up after their dogs in a suburb where I live where they are highly visible;can you imagine in a forested NP or in the backcountry. Also their presence may initiate animal attacks. Also even with leash laws MANY dog owners think their special pet is different and doesn’t require leashing thereby opening up others who may not want to be approached by dogs including those WITH dogs to that. Everyone thinks they have control of their dog until they don’t.
Most National FORESTS allow dogs offleash... just be aware of the hunting seasons, wear your orange.. don't venture during rifle seasons... My canines & I ride in the Pisgah Nat Forest in western NC yr round.
I appreciate you posting this, but I have to say I am still thoroughly disheartened. I'm hitting the road (alone) in the next few months and wanted to bring a dog along for support, company, and even for protection. I just found out most national parks don't allow dogs and it's really upsetting to hear that I now must make a choice between one or the other, even though I am an environmentalist and respect leash laws and fellow visitors...
Jennifer, My wife and I were equally as frustrated but after some research we found that most national forests and national forest campgrounds allow doges on trails, etc. Some national parks allow dogs as well Acadia being one of our favorites. National forests are less crowded and are spectacular!
I happened on this old post. I am in the same predicament- on the road alone with my dog and was hoping to see our nations parks. Any pointers?
It's sad Jennifer. My dog Rhea is an amazing companion. Frustratingly, I have a lifetime NP pass. Rhea is a wonderful, fit and skilled hiking dog. Makes it so difficult for the many trips I am trying to plan.
I hope you were able to do your trip w/o leaving your doggie behind. There are plenty of state parks that take dogs. I too am discouraged by the lack of pet friendlyness of the NP’s . Traveling with your dog is my favorite thing to do. I hope you had a great trip! -Peter
It’s not a lack of pet friendlyness. There are not enough rangers to monitor whether or not park visitors keep their pets on leashes, pick up after them, keep them from barking at other people and animals. And while I’m sure you are a very responsible pet owner who would never do any of those things, there are plenty of other people who won’t respect the rules.
Ya can take your dogs to the all the Parks, you just can't take them on trails.
What is the point of going all the way to a National Park and NOT going on a trail?
Then what's the point? This isn't right and visitors should be able to take dogs on any trail. Owners just have be responsible. Can't leave a dog in a trailer all day?
LeRoy, is that true? If so, I am very happy to hear so! We are moving into our small RV full-time after a house fire and we will be traveling around with our bubs, Oakley. We are hoping to go across country to check out some parks but we weren't sure how restricted it would be with our dog. We are going to make sure we have taken every precaution so that our pet can be comfortable in the van and chase the cooler weather. Either way, so does that mean you can camp with a dog as long as you don't bring them on trails?
Sure, but what's the point of bringing them if they can't go out on the trail with you for a walk. It's sooo STUPID considering people do more damage to nature than dogs. People leave trash behind, not dogs and people get in trouble with wild animals but they're not prohibited from or required to have children on leashes.
Gathas show the pet policies for all the NPS... Congaree is our favorite spot to walk dogs in a NP tho
Petrified Forest allows pets. It can get hot. Make sure you don't expect more than a pet can handle. I saw a lovely older dog in the shade with his humans throwing water on him in MAY. People can push their own limits but pets can't say "No." Bring water, clean up after them. They are welcome!
This is great to hear. Not being able to take my dog has limited my use of the parks. I did take a service-dog-in-training into some at one time as part of her socialization (Zion, Bryce Canyon, and a few others).
Don't forget to watch out for the Bark Ranger programs! I noticed Great Basin NP had the Bark Ranger tag in their bookstore, but I'm unsure which trails are dog friendly.
Although not a National Park, Hovenweep National Monument is park of the park service and allows dogs on all trails. Must be leashed and their humans must pick up after them. Plus the park is free.
Congaree National Park in South Carolina. Not only are dogs allowed everywhere in this wonderful park, the park itself is free.


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