13 Dog-Friendly National Parks & What to Know Before You Go

April 20, 2023

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The United States has 63 national parks, totaling 84 million hectares of protected land. As a pet parent who wants to explore the world with your pup, you may be wondering: Are national parks dog-friendly? If so, you’re not alone — and we’ve got you covered. 

In this article, we’ve rounded up a list of what national parks are dog-friendly, in addition to some useful advice for your visit. Don’t forget to bring your camera and get your pup photo-ready with a professional groom so they’re looking their best on your adventure.

Dog-Friendly National Parks

To start planning your next outdoor adventure with your pup, discover what national parks allow dogs below. How did we classify these national parks as “dog-friendly,” you ask? These dog-friendly national parks, listed in alphabetical order, allow leashed dogs on more than three hiking trails, unlike other national parks that don’t allow dogs at all — or where your canine friends are only permitted in picnic areas and parking lots. 

Please note that rules and regulations for each national park can change, and it’s important to reference the National Park Service website for the most updated information on trails!

Acadia National Park in Maine

With 100 miles of pet-friendly hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads where pets are permitted, Acadia National Park is one of our favorites.

A woman and dog standing on rocks beside some water and mountains in Acadia National Park.

One of the best dog-friendly trails is the Jordan Pond Path, which is 3.1 miles. As of April 2023, leashed dogs are allowed on most trails except the following:

  • Beehive
  • Beech Cliffs Trail
  • Ladder Trail to Dorr Mountain
  • Perpendicular Trail 
  • Precipice

Congaree National Park in South Carolina

Home to 26,000 acres, Congaree National Park allows pets on all trails, campgrounds, and the boardwalk. The most popular trails include the Weston Lake Loop Trail at 4.7 miles and Oakridge Trail at 1.7 miles. However, some routes might not be the most suitable for your dog. For example, one part of the boardwalk is confined and elevated, so if your pup isn’t comfortable being in close proximity to others, you might want to consider an alternative. 

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

As the deepest lake in the U.S. fed by rain and snow, Crater Lake National Park makes for a great day out. 

A German Shepard sitting on a rock next to Crater Lake National Park.

The park permits one leashed pet per person in Mazama and Lost Creek Campgrounds, all picnic areas, established roads, and walkways. As long as there is no significant snow, your pooch can join you on the following hiking trails: 

  • Annie Spur Trail: 2.1-mile loop
  • Godfrey Glen Trail: 1.2-mile loop
  • Grayback Drive: 18 miles out-and-back
  • Lady of the Woods Trail: 0.3-mile loop
  • Pacific Crest Trail: totaling 2,650 miles out-and-back, which can be broken up into sections

Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio

With over 110 miles of pet-friendly hiking trails, Cuyahoga Valley welcomes any domesticated animal. While you might not be allowed on the mountain bike trails, there are plenty of other routes, including: 

  • Buckeye Trail: totaling 1,444 miles out-and-back
  • Cross Country Trail: 3.5-mile loop
  • Lake Trail: 1-mile loop
  • Oak Hill: 1.4-mile loop
  • Pine Grove Trail: 2-mile loop
  • Salt Run Train: 3.3-mile loop
  • Towpath Trail: totaling 20 miles out-and-back
  • Tree Farm Trail: 2.8-mile loop

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

The Grand Canyon National Park is a great day out for you and your pup. It’s important to note that pets aren’t allowed below the canyon rim, and only leashed pets are allowed on hiking trails above the rim, which include Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, Trailer Village, and Yavapai Lodge.
The 4.8-mile Greenway and Rim Trail is a family-friendly choice which boasts plenty of overlooks that are perfect for a quick pitstop.

A reddish looking dog sitting beside a cliff edge in the Grand Canyon.

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas

If you’re wondering, “Are dogs allowed in national parks?” while planning a trip to Hot Springs National Park, you’ll be pleased to know that all 26 miles of the park welcome pets! One of the most popular hiking routes is the Goat Rock Trail which is 2.4 miles. Dogs just aren’t allowed in the federal buildings, but they are more than welcome in the restaurant and brewery.

Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado

A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mesa Verde National Park welcomes leashed pets on paved roads, campground roads, and parking lots. Pet-friendly trails are also marked, including the 0.3-mile Park Point Overlook Trail, the Mesa Top Loop sites, and paved trails in the park headquarters. Dogs are welcome on most of the Wetherill Mesa Trails except for the Step House Trail, which includes the Long House Loop, Nordenskiold Site #16 Trail, and the Badger House Community. 

New River Gorge National Park and Preserve in West Virginia

The New River Gorge National Park and Preserve allows dogs on all trails as long as they’re on a leash. A few of our favorite dog-friendly hikes include the 2.4-mile Endless Wall Trail and the 3.2-mile Long Point Trail. Just remember that dogs aren’t allowed in any park buildings or visitor centers! 

Olympic National Park in Washington

Stretching across nearly 1 million acres of land, Olympic National Park permits leashed pets on the following trails: 

  • July Creek Loop Trail: 0.2 miles out-and-back
  • Madison Falls Trail: 0.1 miles out-and-back
  • Peabody Creek Trail: 5.2 miles out-and-back
  • Spruce Railroad Trail: 4 miles out-and-back

You’re also allowed to take your pups into the campgrounds and picnic areas, but they’re not allowed to dig or roll in the plants. It’s also not advised that you take them onto the tidal rocks. 

Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona

The National Park Service declares the Petrified Forest National Park as one of the most animal-friendly parks in the United States. Dogs are allowed anywhere, anytime, excluding inside buildings. Two of the most popular trails in this beautiful park are Agate House and Giant Logs, both under two miles long.

A Pomeranian posing with a bowtie in the Petrified Forest National Park.

Shenandoah National Park in Virginia

Shenandoah National Park — situated 75 miles from Washington D.C. — allows leashed dogs on all hiking routes except: 

  • Fox Hollow Trail
  • Stony Man Trail
  • Limberlost Trail
  • Old Rag Ridge Trail
  • Old Rag Saddle Trail
  • Ridge Access Trail
  • Dark Hollow Falls Trail
  • Story of the Forest Trail
  • Bearfence Mountain Trail
  • Frazier Discovery Trail

This still leaves more than 480 miles to explore, including the Big Run Trail at nine miles!

Virgin Islands National Park in the Virgin Islands

As we go through this list, you may be thinking to yourself: why aren’t dogs allowed in national parks? It’s often because of other animals that live there. In the Virgin Islands National Park, for example, you’ll find nesting sea turtles and shore birds, which is why leashed dogs are allowed on all trails, but not the beach. If it’s your first time, we recommend the 2.2-mile Ram Head Trail. 

White Sands National Park in New Mexico

Nestled in one of the world’s great wonders, the White Sands National Park offers plenty of adventure. Dogs on a leash are allowed everywhere except park buildings. Our favorite hiking route has to be the one-mile Dune Life Nature Trail, so be sure to check it out!

A dog looking across the dunes of White Sands National Park.

5 Tips for Visiting National Parks With Your Pup

No matter which national park you’re visiting, make the most of your trip with our handy tips below.

1. Keep Your Dog Leashed At All Times

Leashed dogs can still have fun! With a wide variety of animals calling our national parks home, it’s also a good way to keep everyone safe. You don’t want your pup running off in an unfamiliar environment, either. As a general rule of thumb, dogs must be on a leash no longer than six feet, so if you don’t have one, check out the options below:

2. Never Leave Your Pet Unattended

Another way to keep your dog safe is to never leave them alone — even if you’ve secured their leash. This is because they could pull themselves free and get lost in unknown territory. They may also come face to face with the park’s other inhabitants or toxic plants, which could pose a risk. Don’t leave your pup unattended in the car either, as it’ll likely lead to dehydration or heatstroke in the worst cases.

3. Always Clean Up After Your Pup

America’s national parks have some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. While park rangers keep them in check, it’s important to do your part to protect nature and leave no trace. This includes taking your rubbish away and cleaning up after your dog. Keeping these protected lands as clean as possible means others can enjoy them in their great state too!

4. Be Vigilant of Ticks, Poisonous Plants & Wildlife

Dogs explore with their noses and sometimes they come across harmful plants, bugs, and wildlife. If they do eat a poisonous plant, they’ll likely suffer from stomach issues, and in the worst cases, it can even be fatal. Ticks — which are more common in grassland — can also pose a threat as they can carry Lyme Disease. When you’re out and about, it’s important to be aware of these potential threats. Keeping a first aid kit handy can also help to minimize any serious issues in case of any incidents. Here are a few good options:

5. Bring Plenty of Water

Just like their human companions, dogs need to keep hydrated too. Water keeps things moving inside and gives dogs energy. It’s also important to consider how long your pup has spent in the sun. Too much exposure can lead to dehydration, so be sure to look out for shaded spots and pack a few water accessories:

Treat Your Pup to a Groom After Your Trip

After all that adventure, your pooch may need a pamper to clean up all the dirt and debris accumulated on your fun trip. That’s where Barkbus comes in — our professional groomers will give your pup the tender, loving care they deserve to keep them in the best possible condition. Book your grooming session with us today!

A cute dog with its ears up surrounded by majestic nature.

For up-to-date information on each park mentioned above, please visit the National Park Service.


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