7 Pet Friendly US National Parks (No! Dogs aren’t always welcome)
Picture this. You’ve planned your family national park adventure down to the last detail. Snacks for the kids. A Spleash to keep your dog hydrated. Rain jackets just in case. Then, as you arrive, you see the big NO DOGS sign at the entrance to the park. Trip officially ruined.
It turns out that while most national parks allow dogs in some areas, there are plenty that have a lot of restrictions on where our fluffy friends can go. And if you were planning on heading into the backcountry or wanted to explore some of the more out-the-way trails, you might find yourself out of luck if you have your BFF in tow. But fear not – help is at hand. We’ve put together a list of our favorite dog-friendly national parks so you can plan your next trip with confidence. Read on, as we share the goods.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
Before we share the best national parks for dogs, let’s make sure your dog is a responsible BARK Ranger first.
B: Bag your waste (just because bears poop in the woods, doesn’t mean you can leave your pup’s there)
A: Always have your dog on a leash that is no longer than 6 foot (let’s make that a Spleash, shall we, so your dog stays hydrated and safe)
R: Respect wildlife (pawprints only, please)
K: Know where you can go (do a little prep work first and determine which trails work for you and your dog)
OK, now for the parks…
Acadia National Park, Maine
Located on the coast of Maine, this is a great park to visit with your dog as there are few restrictions on where they can go. Not only that, but there are a whopping 100+ miles of hiking trails, making it a hiker’s paradise.
Spleash tip: Hop on one of the free shuttle buses that cruise around the park with your furry friend – they’re all welcome!
Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Pet friendly (even in the campgrounds), Congaree National Park is famous for having the largest expanse of old growth bottomland forest in the southeastern US. It also boasts some of the country’s tallest trees, making it a treat for everyone in your crew.
Spleash tip: Always check the trail conditions – especially outside of the summer months – as some trails are prone to flooding.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Yes, the Grand Canyon National Park is dog friendly… as long as you stay above the rim. In fact, dogs can enjoy all 13 miles of the South Rim Trail, which should be enough for any nature-loving pup. There are also dog-friendly campgrounds and lodges, including Mather, Desert View, and Trailer Village Campgrounds, and the Yavapai Lodge.
Spleash tip: The South Rim Trail is at a high elevation and host to a dry climate, which means your dog can dehydrate very quickly. Make sure you take your Spleash with you, so you can keep him hydrated along the way.
Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
If turquoise blue water and miles of sandy beaches sounds good to you, then we suggest you head on over to Indiana Dunes National Park. Take in Lake Michigan, take your dog for a leisurely stroll along the beach, then explore the dunes, ponds, marshes, and forest that await you and your BFF.
Spleash tip: Also check out Indiana Dunes State Park which is right nearby and is also dog friendly.
Padre Island National Seashore
Seeing as it’s summer right now, we figured this one needed to make the cut. This stunning national treasure is actually the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world. The park protects 66 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies, and wind tidal flats with some of the most diverse wildlife you’ll ever encounter. And lucky for you, dogs are welcome almost everywhere in the park.
Spleash tip: Because of the rare and endangered species this park hosts, it’s really important to keep your dog on a leash (or should we say S p l e a s h) at all times.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Bigger might not always mean better, but when it comes to this giant national park, it’s pretty darn close. Officially the largest national park in the US, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve offers glaciers, major mountain ranges, and plenty of dog-friendly trails amongst its 13.2 million acres.
Spleash tip: Beware of trapping! Keep your dog on a leash at all times to prevent any unfortunate accidents.
Yosemite National Park, California
One of the most visited parks in the world welcomes your dog. With rules. Mostly, these rules refer to keeping your dog on paved roads, sidewalks, parking areas, and cycle paths. But don’t worry, because you can get to see almost all of the wonder this magical location has to offer with your dog, and it’s well worth the visit.
Spleash tip: Check out the dog-friendly accommodation available in the area by heading to this page and filtering by “pet friendly”.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the dog-friendly national parks, it features some of our favorites. Still, it’s always smart to head to a park’s website while planning your trip just to make sure they haven’t changed any rules.
And remember, if you plan to head out exploring this summer, the temps can rise pretty quickly. Heat stroke and dehydration are real risks. Keep your fluffy friend out of the midday sun if possible, and always offer her water throughout the day. On that note, don’t forget to pack your Spleash!
Written by Zoe Oksanen