9 Dog-Friendly National Parks to Visit With Your Pup


Spring has sprung, and summer is right around the corner. If you’re ready to soak up the freedom of summer and escape to the great outdoors, we’ve got some road trip ideas. Read on for a list of the most dog friendly National Parks for summer exploration.

Each park has its own rules and designated pet-friendly trails and areas. In National Parks that allow dogs, your pup must be leashed with a max leash length of 6 feet  — for everyone’s safety (pups, humans, wildlife and protected areas). All parks prohibit leaving pets unattended or inside your vehicle.

Acadia National Park, Maine

The crown jewel of the North Atlantic coast, Acadia is a 47,000-acre coast recreation area, located primarily on ME’s Mount Desert Island. It is one of the top 10 most visited, and also one of the most dog-friendly national parks in the US; dogs are allowed on most trail and carriage roads. Pet permitted areas include:

  • 100 miles (161 km) of hiking trails and 45 miles (72 km) of carriage roads in the park
  • Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds
  • On Isle au Haut, where pets are permitted for day hiking only.

Yosemite National Park, CAlifornia

Located in the High Sierra mountains and best known for its waterfalls, Yosemite National Park is nearly 1,200 square miles. As you explore, you’ll encounter a vast wilderness area, deep valleys, grand meadows and ancient giant sequoias. Leashed pets are permitted:

  • In developed areas On fully paved roads, sidewalks, and bicycle paths (except when signed as not allowing pets)
  • In all campgrounds except walk-in campgrounds and in group campsites
  • In a few additional (very obscure and unsigned) places:
    • Wawona Meadow Loop, Chowchilla Mountain Road and Four Mile & Eleven Mile fire roads (but not the Four Mile Trail in Yosemite Valley). 
    • Hodgdon Meadow: Carlon Road from the trailhead to Hodgdon Meadow and on the Old Big Oak Flat Road from Hodgdon Meadow to Tuolumne Grove parking lot.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia  

Over 20,000 acres of protected land located 75 miles outside of Washington, D.C., with over 500 miles of trails. From waterfalls to wildflowers to wooded hollows, Shenandoah is home to deer, birds and black bears. It’s also one of the few national parks that allow pets on select trails. Leashed pets are permitted:

  • On most trails (the 12 trails that dogs are prohibited on accounts for fewer than 20 miles)
  • In campgrounds and pet-friendly lodging

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona    

The second most visited national park in the US, the  Grand Canyon  is one of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  It is 18 miles wide, 1904 square miles and encompasses 277 miles of the Colorado river. You’ll encounter colorful rock formations, hidden caves and fossils while experiencing  expansive, incomparable, views. Leashed pets are permitted:

  • On the South Rim: Leashed pets are allowed on trails above the rim, Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, Trailer Village, and throughout developed areas. In Yavapai Lodge, the only in-park lodge with pet friendly rooms.
  • On the North Rim: Leashed pets are only allowed on the bridle trail (greenway) that connects the North Kaibab Trail, and the portion of the Arizona Trail north to the park entrance station.
  • At Tuweep: Leashed pets are only allowed on established roads and in the campground.

NOTE: Pets can usually be boarded at the South Rim Kennel, but as of 3/24/21, this kennel remains closed.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio  

The Cuyahoga River is the central, natural feature of this park, which is  a refuge for wildlife and native plants. Located not far from Cleveland and Akron, the park includes deep forests, rolling hills and open farmlands. The Towpath Trail follows the historic route of the Ohio & Erie Canal.  Leashed pets are permitted on over 110 miles of hiking trails and 20 mile of the Towpath Trail.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

This dog-friendly national park is home to the tallest dunes in North America so make sure you and your pup are ready for a dune adventure. As you explore this diverse park, you’ll also encounter tundra, grasslands, forests, alpine lakes and wetlands. Leashed pets are permitted:

  • In the Preserve, including Mosca Pass Trail
  • Main use areas of the park, including Piñon Flats Campground, Dunes Overlook Trail, and along the Medano Pass Primitive Road.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan   

Named after one of it’s dunes that looks like a sleeping bear, this park offers miles of sand beach with high dunes and amazing views across Lake Michigan.  While pets are not allowed on the dune climbs, leashed pets are permitted on these beaches:

  • From Platte River Campground: Railroad trail north to Peterson Road
  • From Esch Road north to the Lakeshore boundary (south of Empire)
  • From Peterson Road south to Old Railroad Grade Trail/Platte Campground Trail
  • From the Lakeshore boundary north of Empire to just south of the North Bar Lake stream outlet.
  • From Maritime Museum east (but not on the Maritime Museum grounds) to the Lakeshore boundary (west of Glen Arbor)
  • From the Lakeshore boundary north of Glen Arbor around Pyramid Point to CR 669
  • From CR 651 north to the Lakeshore northern boundary
  • In the Glen Lake Picnic Area

Indiana Dunes National Park, indiana      

This park offers over 15 miles of trails stretching across the southern shore of Lake Michigan. Landscapes and terrain range from rugged dunes, wetlands, open prairies and flowing rivers, with tranquil forests offering an escape from the sun. Leashed pets are permitted:

  • On the Pinhook Upland Trail
  • Year round on all beaches with one exception: Pets are not allowed in the lifeguarded swimming area at West Beach from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Hot Springs National Park, ARKANSAS    

Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, Hot Springs is an escape into nature located right in the city of Hot Springs. Complete with thermal springs, creeks, mountain views and 9 historic bathhouses, it is extremely dog-friendly. Dogs are permitted on all 26 miles of the park trails! As an added perk, there are pet waste stations on both ends of Bathhouse row and in the campground

Whatever park you choose, here are some road-trip ready tips for a safe adventure:

  • Bring enough water and snacks for you and your pup.
  • Make sure your pup has the endurance to hike the trail you’ve chosen. Does he or she need paw pads or other paw protection from the hot pavement?
  • Bear in mind that pets are more susceptible to overheating than humans. Summer temperatures and elevation can affect you and your pet, so consider the time of day.
  • Remember tick protection for your pup. Ticks are active from early spring to late fall and are found in high grass, on ground cover and near woodpiles and structures.
  • Consider how your pet may react if you encounter other wildlife (snakes, skunks, porcupines or bears).
  • Keep in mind that pet food is also bear food. Store it safely away along with human food.
  • Ensure your pup is never left unattended or in a vehicle. High temperatures in a car can kill dogs.
  • Leash pets in national parks for their safety, in keeping with strict park rules. All parks also require bagging and carrying out waste.
  • Follow national park COVID rules in place; masks are currently required where physical distancing cannot be maintained and in all park buildings and facilities. Check the park sites for updated information on COVID safety.

So let the planning begin! Summer will soon be here, and you and your pup will be itching to get out. Unleash your inner explorer and find freedom in nature among the scenic beauty of these breathtaking national parks.

Beyond the backyard, SpotOn is portable and can be used on the go. So when you’re beach-bound or camping , you can easily contain your pup with custom fences.  Any size, any shape, anywhere.  Our True Location Technology™ powers the most accurate GPS fence.  If you find yourself in a wooded area, be sure to use Forest Mode to ensure accuracy among dense tree cover. Learn More about unleashing life with the SpotOn Virtual Fence containment system.

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