Don’t Leave Fido at Home
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.
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 and Seawall campgrounds and at off-leash area adjacent to the park at Little Long Pond.
Yosemite National Park
The Wawona Meadow Loop is the only trail at Yosemite National Park open to dogs, but canines are permitted on the park's many roads, sidewalks, and bike paths. You can bring leashed pets to all of Yosemite's campgrounds, with the exception of walk-in and group camps.
Shenandoah National Park
Of the 500 miles of marked hiking trails in Shenandoah National Park, only 20 are off-limits to dogs, 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.
North Cascades National Park
While pets are not permitted throughout most of North Cascades National 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. Leashed pets are permitted in the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas, which share borders with North Cascades National Park.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
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 the park's trails and picnic areas, including the 20-miles of the Towpath Trail, which follows the course of the historic Ohio & Erie Canal.
Mammoth Cave National Park
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 woodland cottages.
Grand Canyon National Park
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. Safety is a major concern around the canyon, so pets must be leashed and restrained at all times. Grand Canyon National Park even offers a kennel for dogs near the South Rim Trail.
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.