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Do Any National Parks Allow Dogs?

Are you ready for an adventure but don’t want to leave your dog behind? After all, the best part about having a four-legged companion is the countless experiences you can have together. However, you might be disappointed to learn there aren’t many completely dog-friendly national parks.

Read on to find out which national parks allow dogs and where they can go.

Couple with dog at national park overlook.

National Parks Aren’t Designed For Dogs

National Parks are places of conservation, wildlife protection, and popular recreation. They are designed for your enjoyment – not your pets’. They can damage plant life, injure, irritate, or disrupt wildlife with their presence or scent, or simply be too much with all the people around.

Generally speaking, dogs are prohibited on hiking trails, in buildings, and outside of developed areas (i.e. parking lots and campgrounds) in national parks. There are exceptions, but you should always assume these are the rules.

You must ALWAYS leash your dog and clean up after them. Dogs running loose can be impounded and even destroyed if they are seen injuring, killing, or molesting people or animals in the park.

This means your dog will have to stay in your vehicle if you plan to bring it with you for most of your national park exploration. They cannot join you for most hikes, backcountry trips, or even viewing overlooks. However, most national parks also have policies against leave pets unattended in vehicles.

Fortunately, the NPS places many “NO DOGS” signs at every trailhead and overlook where dogs aren’t allowed to make it easy on-site.

Unfortunately, you’ll still see people ignoring these signs.

woman walking dog in national park
Woman ignoring “no dogs” in Arches National Park.

Do Any National Parks Allow Dogs? 

However, dog owners will be glad to know that most National Parks allow dogs within their borders – they mostly just restrict where they can go inside the park. When visiting their website, it’s clear that the National Park Service (NPS) values our beloved companions and wants both doggos and their owners to enjoy the immense beauty of these areas. 

That being said, not all National Parks allow dogs. Luckily, the NPS provides an interactive map that shows which parks do and don’t welcome furry friends. The map is very easy to use and indicates the dog-friendly national parks in green. 

It’s very important to remember that there are still rules and regulations within dog-friendly areas. For example, even the friendliest dogs must stay on a leash to protect wildlife, reduce conflicts with others, and stay safe. 

Remember that these are protected lands, and sometimes rules are essential to ensure they stay wild. 

RVing with Pets - Mondays with the Mortons

10 Dog-Friendly National Parks

Without further ado, here are 10 stunning dog-friendly national parks. 

Note: While each park has its own unique beauty and dog-friendly places to roam, they all follow the same rules. You can find the entire list of NPS regulations on pets here

1. Acadia National Park in Maine

Acadia National Park; it’s where the ocean meets the mountains. With countless hiking trails and carriage roads, there are endless sights to see in Acadia. Whether you want to explore Isle au Haut or visit the three lighthouses in the park, you could easily spend days adventuring the rocky coast of Maine. 

Where Dogs Are Allowed

According to the NPS, 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads are open to pets. These are an excellent way to see the park, as they weave throughout the cliff-sides, valleys, and mountains. 

When camping in Acadia, Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds all allow pets. You can even explore Isle au Haut with your pup. Just remember, pets can be on the isle for day use only. 

No pets sign in Arches National Park
Be sure to check the rules before you go, because not all national parks allow dogs.

2. Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

Interested in exploring the Blue Ridge mountains with your pup? You’re in luck! Shenandoah National Park allows dogs and has plenty of sights to see. You can hike, fish, camp, or drive the Skyline Drive, dog in tow. Just remember to keep your companion on a leash 6ft or shorter and bring plenty of water. 

Where Dogs Are Allowed

Shenandoah is a very dog-friendly National park, as it allows pets on most trails and all campgrounds. In fact, there are only 20 miles within the 500+ miles of trails where dogs can’t be. These include the Fox Hollow Trail, Old Rag Ridge Trail, and Bearfence Mountain trail. 

For a complete list of prohibited areas, click here

3: Congaree National Park in South Carolina

We’re so happy to include Congaree National Park as a third dog-friendly national park, as it is such a unique and biologically diverse area. Much of Congaree National Park is under floodwater, allowing visitors to kayak and canoe through South Carolina’s gorgeous wilderness. 

Where Dogs Are Allowed

Not a fan of packing your doggo into a canoe? No worries! Pets can walk with you on all trails in the park. You can also plan a camping trip with your dog since they can be in all campgrounds. 

Just make sure your pup is on a leash and with you at all times, and you’ll have a great time exploring this beautiful region. 

dog being walked on boardwalk in national park
If your furry friend loves an adventure, take them along to many national parks.

4. Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio

If you’re in the Cleveland area and want to get some fresh air with your furry friend, you’re in luck. Cuyahoga National Park also allows dogs and has over 100 miles of hiking trails for you to walk your pup. Not only is this national park a great place to hike, but you can also fish, bird watch, bike, and canoe the Cuyahoga River. 

Where Dogs Are Allowed

Dogs can go on nearly all hiking trails except the East Rim mountain bike trails. 

Additionally, you can bring only service animals inside the park buildings and on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Cuyahoga is also friendly to comfort animals used for emotional support or cognitive disability. For a list of great short and long hikes you can do with your dog, check out Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s website

5. Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

Guess what?! You can take your dog to the Grand Canyon! For most people, seeing the expansive beauty of this great wonder is just a bucket list wish. Luckily, our dogs can cross it off their bucket lists as well! 

dog on edge of little grand canyon

Where Dogs Are Allowed

You can only have dogs along the rim of the canyon. Because the trails below the canyon rim are narrow and busy, the NPS prohibits pets from exploring these areas for their safety and yours. 

On the South Rim, you can have leashed dogs on trails above the rim, Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, and Trailer Village. You can also board them at South Rim Kennel, as temperatures can get very hot at the Grand Canyon. Because of this, “Leaving pets in vehicles during warm weather without proper care and precautions is prohibited.

On the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, you can bring leashed dogs on the bridle trail (greenway) that connects the North Kaibab Trail, and the portion of the Arizona Trail north to the park entrance station. There is no kennel available at the North Rim, so be sure to make other arrangements to keep your pet safe.

Pro Tip: Is the Grand Canyon on your bucket list? This is How to Plan an Epic RV Trip to the Grand Canyon.

6. White Sands National Park in New Mexico

White Sands National Park is an amazing, expansive playground for both children, adults, and pets! This dog-friendly national park is notorious for its vast dunes of white gypsum sand, making it a great place to sled, “sandboard,” and play. 

Where Dogs Are Allowed

This national park allows dogs if on a leash and under your physical control at all times. The NPS just asks that you please pick up any waste your dog leaves behind–no one wants to find land mines in the white sand! 

Dog running in forrest.
Most national parks that allow dogs will require your dog to be on a leash at all times.

7. Yosemite National Park in California

Are you interested in exploring the grandeur of Yosemite National Park with your pup? Luckily, Yosemite is another dog-friendly destination. It’s genuinely a dog walker’s paradise, as there are many paved roads and sidewalks throughout the park with stunning views at every turn. 

Just clean up after your pet and pick up any pet food that might get left behind. Wildlife is attracted to these scents and smells. 

Where Dogs Are Allowed

According to the NPS, dogs can be in developed areas and on fully paved roads, sidewalks, and bike trails. If you plan on camping in the park, dogs can also be in all campgrounds except walk-in sites. 

Pro Tip: Whether you’re with your furry friend, or on a solo adventure, these are 5 Tips for Visiting National Parks in Your RV.

8: Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

Like White Sands National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park features vast and sloping sand dunes that are fun for the whole family. It also has a diverse terrain, including a meandering creek and plenty of forest trails.

Where Dogs Are Allowed

Dogs can be in the main part of the preserve, including the Dunes Overlook trail, Mosca Pass Trail, and the Medano Pass Primitive Road. As for camping, you can also enjoy a night or two (or seven!) at the Piñon Flats Campground.

For more on Great Sand Dunes National Park pet restrictions, check out their shaded map identifying pet-restricted areas. 

dog sign at national park
Keep your pets in developed areas to avoid disrupting park resources.

9. Indiana Dunes National Park in Indiana

Indiana Dunes National Park sits on the shore of beautiful Lake Michigan and provides visitors with many different outdoor activities. You can walk with your leashed pup on the beach to your heart’s content and explore the hiking trails of northern Indiana. 

Where Dogs Are Allowed

To answer this question, let’s discuss where dogs can’t go. Dogs can roam all beaches except for the lifeguard swim area on West Beach. They must also avoid the equestrian part of the Glenwood Dunes Trail system, the Nature Play areas, and the Pinhook Bog Trail. Other than those areas, you’re free to roam with your furry best friend.  

10. Olympic National Park in Washington

Are you ready for stunning mountain peaks, amazing hiking, and the Pacific Ocean? Lucky for us, Olympic National Park is another dog-friendly national park. The Olympic wilderness is truly a captivating maze of greenery surrounded by massive mountain peaks reaching over 7,000 ft. 

Tom and Cait posing with dogs in front of RV.
They’re more than dogs, they’re family. Take your fur babies on your next adventure!

Where Dogs Are Allowed

On their website, the National Park Service makes it very clear where pets can go. In fact, they list specific trails that are best for you and your doggo. 

These include Peabody Creek Trail, Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek, the beaches between Hoh and Quinault Reservations, Spruce Railroad Trail, Madison Falls Trail, and July Creek Loop Trail. 

Service Dogs in National Parks

Service dogs are allowed to accompany their owners to all parts of the park and must be kept on a leash. The NPS follows the Americans with Disabilities Act definition of a service animal.

National Park Service policy defines a service animal as a dog that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The tasks performed by the animal must be directly related to the person’s disability. Emotional support, therapy, comfort or companion animals are not considered service animals.

Acadia National Park Service Website

Falsely portraying a pet as a service animal is considered fraud and is subject to federal prosecution.

How To Take Pets On National Park Trails - Petrified Forest Bark Ranger - Full Time RV

Research Dog-Friendly National Park Before Your Trip

Like any adventure with your furry companion, stay informed about the environment, rules/restrictions, and the weather before heading out. Many of these National Parks have wildlife that could come in contact with your pup, and it’s important to take precautions to keep this from happening. 

Because of the changes in elevation, these parks also experience volatile weather changes. You might suddenly find yourself in 100+ degree heat, or even in the snow! Plan accordingly and bring plenty of water for both you and your pup when you head out.

America’s National Parks have so much to offer, and if you do your research, you can make countless memories with your pup–and have a blast doing it! 

What’s the best place you’ve ever been with your dog? Drop a comment below! 

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Mike Bingham

Monday 8th of November 2021

Having been to most of the National Parks you listed, I would agree that Acadia is definitely the number one dog-friendly NP. In fact, while visiting there in 2019, a park ranger told us that he thought it was number one as well! What I was surprised you didn't mention is that dogs are allowed on the public transit (shuttle) system as well! It makes stops at almost every attraction in the park. We used it to take our golden retriever and German shepherd through the park, as well as the sites in Bal Harbour. The town is also very dog friendly.

I enjoy your articles very much!

Thanks!

Mortons on the Move

Monday 15th of November 2021

It's good to know dogs are allowed on the shuttles in Acadia. Thanks for the tip!

Ted

Thursday 4th of November 2021

Last summer when visiting Prince Edward Island, we were surprised to find out that we couldn't bring our dog to the beach in Cavendish and other Canadian National Parks. What we didn't realize was that National Parks of Canada where operating these touristy PEI sites mostly know for their beaches . You could bring your dog on trails and other areas of the park but not the beach. The Island does have other provincial beaches and local public beaches where dogs are allowed, however when it comes to National Parks, its a no-no. Earlier in the summer we were in Nova Scotia and brought our dog on a long walk in the woods of the Kejimkujik National Park (inland portion of the park). This park has a ocean side portion also - which probably has similar rules for dogs. We were however able to find many beautiful Provincial Park beaches in Nova Scotia that allowed dogs. To make a long story short: always a good idea to check first to avoid any disappointment.

Mortons on the Move

Monday 15th of November 2021

You're right. It's always a good idea to check on the dog rules in advance.

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