When it comes to this country’s national park system, it’s very much like the hotels listed on our site: there is no one-policy-fits-all regarding pet-friendliness (though a 6-foot leash is a popular theme). Some parks welcome you and your pet with open arms, offering extensive access to their facilities, while other won’t even let you through the front gate with a dog in the car.
Can you imagine that??? The bottom line is that it’s a delicate balance between protecting the wildlife and landscape while also keeping your pet safe.
What follows are petswelcome.com’s personal picks for the top 10 national parks. While they are not necessarily the most popular ones, we chose them because they combine beauty, interest and, of course, pet access.
Top 10 Dog Friendly National Parks
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park: This is one of the most dog-friendly national park. Dogs are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas, and along roads, but must be kept on a leash at all times. The leash must not exceed 6 feet in length. Dogs are only allowed on Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail.
- Grand Canyon National Park: Dogs must be leashed at all times to protect them and the wildlife. They are allowed to accompany you at the Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, Trailer Village and throughout the developed areas. Check with their website for more details of what trails are open and allow dogs.
- Rocky Mountain National Park:
Pets are permitted in the park but are not allowed on the trails or back country. They are allowed only in areas accessed by vehicles, including roadsides, parking areas, picnic areas and campgrounds.
- Yosemite National Park:
Pets are only allowed on fully paved trails and roads as well as walk-in campgrounds and group campsites. Yosemite also does not allow pets to be left unattended at any time or off leash. They also urge owners to remember that pet food is “bear food.”
- Acadia National Park: A nice dog friendly park that allows pets on most trails and roads, as well as camping sites. Most lakes in the park are public water supplies and pets and people may not swim in them. Sand Beach and Echo Lake are off-limits to pets (May 15 – September 15).
- Yellowstone National Park: There are some tight pet restrictions at Yellowstone but pets are allowed in the campgrounds, areas that are near roads, and near the parking areas. Pets are not allowed onto the trails of the park because of the lush wildlife which could make your dog’s prey drive kick in, and other wildlife that may stalk and think your dog is prey. While it isn’t the most dog-friendly in terms of letting you and your pet hike together, it is a beautiful place and your pet might be quite happy with a small weekend getaway camping.
- Olympic National Park: Pets are permitted only in park campgrounds, picnic areas and parking lots, and several ocean beaches. Rialto Beach one-half mile north to Ellen Creek, all Kalaloch beaches (from Ruby Beach south to South Beach), and Peabody Creek Trail are places where you and your dog can relax and play.
- Grand Teton National Park: Pets are allowed inside Grand Teton National Park, but they must be restrained at all times and are not permitted on hiking trails. If you’re unsure where you and your dog can roam, they suggest to think of it this way: a pet may go anywhere a car may go. Service dogs are the exception to the rule, but they must be clearly indicated as being a service dog and have papers and documentation handy to show a ranger who may stop you.
- Zion Canyon: Leashed pets may be walked on the Pa’rus Trail but are not allowed on the other trails. As with the other national parks on this list, your dog must be leashed at all times. Your pet may also accompany you in the parking areas but if you need there are boarding kennels are available in Rockville, Kanab, Hurricane, St. George, and Cedar City.
- Cuyahoga Valley:Pets must be restrained on a leash that is six feet or shorter in length on all park lands at all times. The Ohio and Erie Canal run through this park and there’s a lot of wonderful places to roam. Just make sure your pet is leashed, has identification, and pay attention to where you and your dog can hike.
Did we miss any national parks? If so, let us know!
Image from Celebrity Dachshund