In Search of the Best National Parks for Dogs

National parks are one of the most visited destination spots in the United States for vacation travelers. Every year, millions of people visit their favorite national parks. But have you ever tried to bring your best friend along? The majority of national parks are not very welcoming to pets. But fortunately there are some exceptions, and some nearby dog-friendly national forests.

Tara Kain and Java at the Grand Canyon
The general policy for national parks is that dogs must be on a 6 foot or less leash at all times, are only allowed in parking lots, in your car, or within 50 to 100 feet of the road. Most of the parks allow dogs in campgrounds and in developed areas, but there can be exceptions to these rules. The majority of national parks do not allow dogs on any hiking or walking trails, any backcountry trails, any beaches or inside buildings. There are even a few lesser known national parks that do not even allow you to drive into the park if you have a pet in your car. This does not sound like a fun vacation to most dogs and dog owners.

But before ruling out a vacation to a national park, it is important to note that some national parks have exceptions to these stringent pet rules. Parks like the Grand Canyon National Park and Acadia National Park, allow dogs on some trails and are well worth a visit even with your pooch. For the majority of national parks that do not allow dogs on any trails, a fair amount of sightseeing can still be done. Keep in mind that the majority of visitors to national parks do not venture too far from their cars. This means there are typically many sites and points of interest to see right from the comfort of your own car (where dogs are welcome). But for people who actually want to go on a hike, dog-friendly national forests are adjacent to or located nearby many national parks.

So how much can you really see at our national parks when bringing your pet along? offers a Top 5 National Park list which highlights the best national parks in the United States to bring a dog, based on sights to see and places to walk with your best friend.

1. Grand Canyon, AZ
2. Acadia, ME
3. Shenandoah, VA
4. Yosemite, CA
5. North Cascades, WA

4 Responses to “In Search of the Best National Parks for Dogs”

  1. beth says:

    We are all tax payers that support these national parks. So, remember it is important to email, call and/or write letters to these national parks, reminding them that they need dog friendly trails for dog lovers who support their parks and pay for their paychecks. I pay out $1000’s of dollars every month to the IRS, so I expect to be able to use the parks responsibly with my dog.

    Most all national parks have websites where you can get phone numbers, emails and mailing addresses. Best to send to the top ranking person at each park. If the website does not have their name, just call and ask. This is public information as these are parks for the public.

    You have to voice your opinion or fight for your rights, otherwise your rights are taken away from you.

    So, if you love dogs, or want to share trips with your dog, take a moment to make a phone call to a National Park asking for dog friendly trails, etc.

  2. Elana says:

    New York State has miles of hiking in forest preserves in both the Catskills and the Adirondacks where dogs are welcome. There are areas where dogs must be leashed but many trails exist that only require a dog to “be under control.” Under control means PERFECT recall to “heel position” when meeting other hikers/dogs on the trail… because we must remember that while WE like dogs, not everyone else does.

    By having our dogs behave well around other hikers and other dogs we may be able to keep these NY State parks and preserves available to both hikers and their dogs.

  3. Amanda says:

    We love to take our dogs to Park but sadly most of the texs state park are no longer pet friendly ie.. Abilene State Park. If you live in Texas check with that park if they still are leting pet in it could be very stricked on were they can go.

  4. Rebekah says:

    Thanks for the info. I am a fairly new dog owner who likes to travel and am trying to figure out how to include Poco. I don’t know if this is the right place to ask a question…but I am searching for a hermitage type of self directed spiritual retreat where I can bring my dog? I live in the East Coast (Philadelphia area) so close to there would be best, but not needed. I need secluded, inexpensive lodgings to meditate and get away from the bustle with my pal. This is surprisingly difficult to find out on the web. Any suggestions?

Leave a Reply