For any dog-loving traveller, leaving behind our furry friend can often be the hardest part of going on any vacation. Most national parks have strict pet policies and limit them to small areas of the parks. Luckily, there are quite a few national parks that are very pet friendly! So whether you are planning on a just a day trip or a longer stay, there are many national parks to visit that are pet friendly. Here are some of the best national parks to bring along your canine companion!
Acadia National Park*
Acadia National Park on the coast of Maine is quite a pet friendly park! Dogs are welcome on almost all of the 120 miles of hiking trails that Acadia has to offer making it a great option if you’re looking to hike with your pooch. Pets are also welcome on all 45 miles of carriage roads within the park. There are only a few trails that require iron rungs for climbing, making them the only trails that do not allow animals.
Dogs are also allowed in nearly all of the public areas at the park - even on the shuttles that go around the park. The only places they are not allowed are Duck Harbor Campground, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Echo Lake Beach, and Sand Beach during high season (mid-May to mid-Sept). Your pup is welcome to join you anywhere else in Acadia National Park making it an ideal spot for your next adventure!
White Sands National Park
White Sands National Park in New Mexico is another park very welcoming to pets. You can explore all of the trails in the park together! The only place that animals are not permitted is inside buildings. Dogs must be leashed but are welcome on all trails, sand dunes, and picnic areas. If you are planning on visiting White Sands, be sure to pack plenty of water for both of you. The dry desert air and high elevation can lead to dehydration and the only place with water access is at the visitors center.
Hot Springs National Park
Located in Arkansas, Hot Springs National Park is a unique national park. The park encompases a historic downtown and forested hiking area. If you’re eager to explore the hiking trails, all 26 miles of the available trails are pet friendly for you and your leashed dog. In the historic district, animals are not permitted in the bathhouses at the park, but you and furry friend are welcome to enjoy a stroll on the sidewalks on Bathhouse Row and along the Grand Promenade. If you are looking for a longer stay at the park, Gulpha Gorge campground is a great option if you’re looking for a pet friendly camping option.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, located outside Cleveland, Ohio, offers 125 miles of trails throughout the park - and your dog is welcome to join you on pretty much all of them! There are many different types of trails passing through fields, wetlands, and woodlands, so it's a good idea to check in with a park ranger to figure out which trails are most suitable for your needs.
The only places where pets are not allowed include inside any park building (with the exception of service dogs), on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad Train, and on the East Rim mountain bike trail.
Petrified Forest National Park*
Not only does Petrified Forest National Park permit dogs at the park, they’re encouraged to join you on your visit! You and your pup are welcome on all the trails throughout the park and in the backcountry - as long as dogs are leashed. Keep in mind that there is no access to water in the backcountry, so be sure to pack enough water for both of you on your adventure.
You and your canine companion can also camp in the park if you’d like. You’ll just need to pick up a free backcountry permit at the Painted Desert Visitor Center or Rainbow Forest Museum. There are no established campsites, which means you can camp wherever you’d like to within the park!
Grand Canyon National Park*
Photo Credit: fPat Murray
Located in northern Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park is another park that is very pet friendly! You and your dog are welcome to enjoy all 13 miles of the South Rim Trail.
Yavapai Lodge is located inside the park and has pet friendly rooms if you are looking for an overnight option. Animals may also be boarded at the South Rim Kennel.
Whether you plan to visit Grand Canyon National Park with or without your canine companion, it is important to note that the high elevation and dry climate can lead to dehydration. Even if you’re only planning a short stroll or hike, be sure to bring plenty of water - and don’t forget a dog bowl!
* These national parks participate in the Bark Ranger Program. This program was established to help encourage visitors to engage in responsible and respectful behaviors with their dogs while in the parks.
What It Takes to be a Bark Ranger
Bag your pet’s waste
Always wear a leash (6-foot max)
Respect wildlife (give them their space)
Know where you can go (which trails/areas are pet friendly)
Each participating national park sells a unique tag for your dog’s collar, so you and your dog can collect a tag from each park as you embark on your park adventures!
List of All Bark Ranger National Park Service Units
- Acadia National Park – Maine
- Agate Fossil Beds National Monument – Nebraska
- Biscayne National Park – Florida
- De Soto National Memorial – Florida
- Devil’s Tower National Monument – Wyoming
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site – Oregon & Washington
- Friendship Hill National Historic Site – Pennsylvania
- Gateway Arch National Park – Missouri
- George Washington Carver National Monument – Missouri
- Golden Spike National Historic Park – Utah
- Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona
- Gulf Islands National Seashore – Florida & Mississippi
- Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park– West Virginia
- Hopewell Culture National Historic Site – Ohio
- Independence Hall National Park – Pennsylvania
- Indiana Dunes National Park – Indiana
- Little River Canyon National Preserve – Alabama
- Minute Man National Historical Park – Massachusetts
- Montezuma Castle National Monument – Arizona
- Natchez Trace Parkway – Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee
- Olympic National Park – Washington
- Pecos National Historical Park – New Mexico
- Petersburg National Battlefield – Virginia
- Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona
- Redwood National Park – California
- San Juan Islands National Park – Washington
- Sagamore Hill National Historic Site – New York
- Tonto National Monument – Arizona
- Tuzigoot National Monument – Arizona
- Vicksburg National Military Park – Mississippi