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The Most Dog Friendly National Parks


Enjoying the great outdoors at one of America’s national parks is an adventure and educational. Sharing the experience with a canine buddy takes it to another level of fun and excitement as you traverse scenic trails and discover all that the park has to offer. Not only is a walk through the park an enjoyable experience to share with a furry friend, but it also provides a non-stressful environment for outdoor exercise. With many dog-friendly national parks located throughout the United States, plan a visit with Fido or Fifi whether the park is located in your home state or if you have access to national parks while traveling.

Acadia National Park

Located in Maine, Acadia National Park offers a day of hiking along trails through forested terrain and along the Atlantic shoreline. With over 200 trails for hiking and biking ranging from easy to difficult, there is no shortage of lush landscapes and scenic views to enjoy. Acadia is among the top 10 most visited parks each year. Within Acadia, pets have access to 100 miles of trails and 45 miles of road. There are trails that are closed to pets and others that are not recommended for pets to access. Check the website for a listing of these trails before heading out.

Several of the on-leash trails within the park include the following:

  • Ocean Path Trail
  • Jordan Pond Path
  • Gorham Mountain Loop
  • Cadillac North Ridge Trail
  • Great Head Trail
  • Ship Harbor Trail

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Within Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio, 100 miles of hiking trails await you and your dog. Whether you’re out and about for a short jaunt or a longer challenge, you’ll find plenty of scenic trails through diverse landscapes with assorted walking surfaces from crushed limestone or gravel to packed dirt. In Cuyahoga, the East Rim trails for mountain bikes are off limits to pets.

Hiking trails to consider include:

  • Lake Trail
  • Oak Hill Trail
  • Towpath Trail
  • Salt Run Trail
  • Pine Grove Trail
  • Cross Country Trail
  • Buckeye Trail

Great Sand Dunes National Park

For an unforgettable experience, plan a visit to the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. While visions of the Rocky Mountains and lots of snow usually come to mind when thinking about the state, the national park has a 30-square-mile sand dune field with no trails, just plenty of open space for you and your dog to run, roll, and play in the sand. Keep in mind the time of year and the temperature to ensure your pup’s paws are protected from the hot sand. When the temps are too hot, Great Sand Dunes National Park has miles of forested trails for the two of you to explore. There are areas within the wilderness park that do not allow access to dogs.

Areas to explore include:

  • In the Preserve, which includes Mosca Pass Trail
  • Dunes Overlook Trail
  • Medano Pass Primitive Road
  • High Dune on First Ridge

Petrified Forest National Park

The pet-friendly Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona is all about enjoying the majority of the park’s trails and paved roads with your dog. The landscape of the park is like looking at an artist’s palette with its many colors and hues displayed by the petrified wood. Enjoy the park and take advantage of the Bark Ranger program designed for pet owners who want to know the best and safest ways to explore the park with fur buddies.

Trails to consider include:

  • Agate House Trail
  • Painted Desert Rim Trail
  • Blue Mesa Trail
  • Crystal Forest Trail
  • Giant Logs Trail
  • Historic Blue Forest Trail

Grand Canyon National Park

Imagine miles of open scenic vistas stretching to the horizon enhanced by giant rock formations and you and your pup have arrived at Grand Canyon National Park. For those who want to enjoy the beauty of the park, access to dogs is limited. The trails along the south rim are open to dogs, but the inner canyon trails are off limits. A good place to start is on the Rim Trail, which offers 13 miles along the canyon’s rim for viewing the inner landscape of the canyon.

Shenandoah National Park

Located in Virginia, you are sure to find a scenic trail through wooded areas and past waterfalls along one of the 500 trails in Shenandoah National Park. Most trails are dog-friendly with the exception of a dozen listed here.

Dog-accessible trails:

  • Rose River Falls Trail
  • Hawksbill Loop
  • Sugarloaf Loop via Piney Branch and Appalachian Trails
  • Big Run Trail
  • Appalachian Trail
  • Elkwallow, Mathews Arm, and Knob Mountain Cutoff Trail

North Cascades National Park

Like the Grand Canyon National Park, the North Cascades National Park in Washington has limited access for dogs to one trail, but that one trail offers one of the most popular and scenic hikes in the U.S. Enjoy a day-long hike along the Pacific Crest Trail that meanders along the western coastline. From snow-covered peaks in the winter to brilliant fall foliage in autumn, the park offers beauty and serenity at every turn.

Additional Pet-Friendly National Parks

Whenever you plan to travel, there are plenty of pet-friendly national parks to consider for a hiking adventure with your dog. Some parks are more dog-friendly than others, so, check ahead of time for trail availability.

Know Before You Go

Before you and your fur buddy head to the park, there are a few things to do and know before you go.

  • Check the park’s website for any alerts that may be in effect due to weather or dangerous situations.
  • Read the park’s rules regarding dogs within the park and on the trails, plus leash requirements.
  • Be prepared for unexpected changes in the weather, bring extra water along for your pup, disposal bags for cleaning up after your pet, and an extra leash, just in case.
  • Be prepared for your dog to hike along various surfaces.
  • Bring an insect repellant.
  • Be aware of dangers to your dog, such as resident wildlife, insects, poison ivy, and other plants.
  • Keep your pet on a leash at all times and never leave it unattended.

While national parks are beautiful destinations, they can be dangerous. Whenever you plan to visit a national park with your dog, always follow the rules and regulations. No exceptions. These policies are in place to keep you and your canine safe. Following the park’s rules means more fun for everyone.