Don’t Leave Fido at Home

Explore These 7 Dog-Friendly National Parks
Beagle standing on rocks at Acadia National Park
Loki the Beagle at Acadia National Park — Jason Heritage

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

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

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

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

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

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 woodland cottages. 

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. 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.

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

Last updated October 20, 2015.


Congaree National Park in South Carolina. Not only are dogs allowed everywhere in this wonderful park, the park itself is free.
great to hear but unfortunately congraee national park was our least favorite park we visited. Mostly just a bunch of woods. We nearly got eaten alive by flies and there were wild animals chasing us in the park. No thanks.
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.
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.
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).
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!
Jones show the pet policies for all the NPS... Congaree is our favorite spot to walk dogs in a NP tho
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...
Ya can take your dogs to the all the Parks, you just can't take 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.
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?
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?
What is the point of going all the way to a National Park and NOT going on a trail?
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 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 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?
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.

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