Traveling with the whole family–dogs included–makes memories that will last a lifetime. For many, there is no better place to make such memories than in one of America’s stunning National Parks. These are special places that are heavily protected so that their beauty can be shared in perpetuity. Therefore, many National Parks have restrictions on visiting with pets, including our best friends–dogs.
Overall rules for dogs in National Parks
Dogs are allowed inside the boundaries of National Parks but their access once outside of your car can be restricted. Many parks follow the “dogs can go anywhere cars can go” axiom, and in many places, that’s about it.
This means leashed pups are allowed on paved roads, in parking lots, in developed campgrounds, and the grounds of, but not in, National Park lodges. And yes, these restrictions extend to dogs that are carried.
In addition to those general rules, a few more specifics:
- Dogs must be on-leash at all times with a maximum leash length of six feet.
- Some parks allow pack animals such as horses and mules. Though dogs may be part of your “pack,” they do not qualify as “pack animals.”
- Certified ADA service animals have, for the most part, all-access passes. Emotional support animals do not qualify as ADA service animals.
- Pick up and dispose of poop immediately. That bright green bag of poop that you’ll “pick up later” isn’t just unsightly, it can attract the park’s resident critters and spread disease if they get into it, not to mention attract predators.
- Speaking of poop, bring your own poop bags as most National Parks don’t supply them.
- The same goes for water. Many parks may have access to water at the visitor’s centers only, so you need to make sure you have a reliable supply on hand for your people and your pooch.
The usual “leave no trace” manners apply for humans.
Why are there so many rules?
There’s a lot to protect! Most parks have indigenous plants and wildlife—even archaeological and cultural heritage sites—that are already stressed by global warming, tourism high seasons, and pollution.
While dogs are amazing companions, they can spread disease, wreak havoc on plants, disturb delicate cultural areas, be dangerous to wildlife, and be in danger from wildlife.
Overall, there’s one rule: respect the rules. If you can do that, you’re ready to get on the road.
The good news is that many National Parks are surrounded by other public use and wilderness spaces where dogs are welcome, giving you plenty of options to be wild and free with your best pal.
Many people plan to board their dogs or leave them with a sitter while visiting the National Parks, and Rover has you covered there. With some careful planning, you can see the sights, follow the rules, and keep everyone happy.
With dog as your co-pilot in mind, here is an overview of what you can expect while traveling in National Parks with dogs, including specific information and pet policies for some of the most popular parks: Zion, Arches, Yellowstone, Sequoia/Kings Canyon, Acadia, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, Glacier, and Grand Teton National Parks.
Are dogs allowed in Acadia National Park?
Acadia is one of the more pet-friendly National Parks, allowing dogs to access about 150 miles of hiking trails and carriage roads within the park, as well as day-hike access to Isle au Haut. The park also welcomes dog sleds pulled by up to four dogs and skijorers (a person on skis being pulled by dogs) with up to two dogs.
Hiking: Dogs are allowed on most hiking trails and carriage roads in the park.
Camping: Blackwoods and Seawall campgrounds allow dogs but they must not be left unattended.
Boarding options: You shouldn’t have to worry about boarding your pooch at this remote, yet popular, spot. But if you need a sitter or a place for your dog to stay for a bit, look for Rover sitters in Bar Harbor.
Are dogs allowed in Zion National Park?
During peak visitation times, Zion requires visitors to move around the park by way of a shuttle, on which dogs (excluding service animals) are not allowed. If you plan to go, keep this in mind as it will take you a lot longer to get to and from than if you were in your own car.
Crowds can also make popular hikes take longer than expected, especially in slot canyons such as The Subway, river hikes including The Narrows, and along the precarious spine of Angels Landing.
Hiking: hiking with leashed dogs is permitted on the Pa’rus trail only. Dogs are not allowed on any other hiking trails, off-trail, or in wilderness areas. However, check the map carefully: much of the land just outside of the park’s boundaries is Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land and the restrictions there cease. Plus, there are some great spots to frolic with your dog.
Camping: Camping with dogs is allowed in two developed campgrounds, South Campground and Watchman Campground. If you are lucky enough to snag a spot in one of these, dogs can be left unattended in fair weather conditions providing they do not cause a disturbance. Keep in mind, these campgrounds are in the desert with very little shade so temperatures can be extreme.
Boarding options: Zion is surrounded by dog-friendly towns, the closest of which are Springdale, Rockville, Hurricane, and St. George. These towns have lots of Rover sitters available for a variety of boarding options.
Are dogs allowed in Arches National Park?
Options for dogs are limited in Arches mostly due to the extreme weather conditions in this part of the desert. Dogs are not permitted to be left unattended in cars and are not allowed at overlooks, on hiking trails, or anywhere off-trail.
While many sights here can be seen from a car, the two-lane road can get clogged with traffic, which can be super-boring if Fido can’t get out and stretch his legs because the pavement is too hot.
For those looking to hike, the most popular sights such as Delicate Arch and Double O Arch are multi-mile, multi-hour undertakings during which you wouldn’t want to leave your dog alone in the car, anyway.
Hiking: Dogs are not allowed on any hiking trails in the park. That said, this part of the country is dog-obsessed and there are many gorgeous hikes outside of the park that are dog-friendly.
Camping: Dogs are allowed in the Devil’s Garden Campground and can be left unattended in fair weather conditions providing they do not cause a disturbance.
Boarding options: Arches is near Moab, a renowned dog-lovers town. Check for a Rover sitter who can watch your friend while you explore.
Are dogs allowed at Yellowstone National Park?
You can bring your dog to Yellowstone but it will restrict your options within the park. Dogs are allowed into the park but must remain within 100 feet of developed areas, which means: parking lots, roads, and campgrounds.
Dogs are not allowed on trails, boardwalks, in the backcountry, or in thermal areas. Short periods of time alone inside a car are allowed, but park staff recommends someone stays with them.
Crowds and traffic during weekends and high season can make many of the popular sights time consuming to access—not ideal conditions for a pup confined to a car.
Hiking: Dogs are not allowed on any hiking trails in the park (because of grizzly bears, bison, cougars; that kind of stuff). That said, there are multitudes of dog-friendly hiking options outside park boundaries.
Camping: There are many campgrounds within the park, a good amount of which are first-come, first-served, and have various restrictions due to dangerous wildlife. Dogs are welcome to stay in cabins at five of the park campgrounds managed by Yellowstone National Park Lodges.
Boarding options: Yellowstone is surrounded by dog-loving communities on all sides. Check for a Rover sitter in West Yellowstone, Big Sky, Bozeman, or Livingston in Montana or Jackson or Cody in Wyoming.
Are dogs allowed in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks?
Dogs are allowed only in campgrounds and picnic areas but can’t accompany you on any hikes. The good news is Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are surrounded by National Forest areas, where dogs are permitted on hiking trails.
This part of the Sierra Nevada is spectacular and scenic pretty much everywhere you look so you and your dog are bound to share a memorable experience.
Hiking: Dogs are not allowed on any hiking trails in the park.
Camping: Dogs are allowed at campgrounds in both Sequoia and Kings Canyon but may not be left unattended; mostly because of the presence of bears.
Boarding options: Bakersfield, Visalia, and Fresno are good options for finding a Rover sitter.
Are dogs allowed in Olympic National Park?
This massive park has plenty of options for exploring with your pooch, including on Washington’s spectacular coastal beaches. Dogs are allowed on a variety of trails—but only those specified and not on interpretive trails or in wilderness areas.
Olympic National Park has a “BARK Rangers” program for good dogs—and good dog people—who follow BARK (Bag poop, Always leashed, Respect wildlife, Know where dogs can go) rules.
Hiking: Dogs are allowed on specific trails within the park including the Peabody Creek Trail, Madison Falls Trail, Spruce Railroad Trail (Lake Crescent), July Creek Loop Trail (Lake Quinault), and from the Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek, and on the beaches between the Hoh and Quinault reservations.
Camping: Dogs are allowed in drive-in campgrounds.
Boarding options: If you prefer to explore without your pooch, check for a Rover sitter in nearby Port Angeles.
Are dogs allowed in Rocky Mountain National Park?
Dogs are only allowed on roads and in parking areas, established campgrounds, and established picnic areas. Park managers prefer that dogs not be left unattended in vehicles.
That said, there are hundreds (not an exaggeration in this part of the country) of options for hiking with dogs just outside of the park, including trails in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, around the town of Estes Park, and in Larimer County Open Space areas.
Hiking: Dogs are not allowed on hiking trails, tundra, or meadows within the park.
Camping: Dogs are allowed at developed campgrounds within the park.
Boarding options: The town of Estes Park is nestled within the park and Colorado being as dog-friendly as it is, you’re sure to find a Rover sitter to help out while you explore.
Are dogs allowed in Glacier National Park?
Dogs are welcome in Glacier National Park in developed areas which include front country campgrounds, picnic areas, along roads, and in parking areas. For lakes where motorized watercraft are permitted, dogs are allowed in boats but not on lake shores.
Hiking: Dogs are not permitted on trails in the park. There is a bike path that runs between Apgar and West Glacier and dogs are welcome to walk on it when it is free of snow.
Camping: Dogs are welcome at developed front country campgrounds but can not be left unattended. There is also a variety of other lodging options in and around the park, some of which are pet-friendly.
Boarding options: Whitefish and Kalispell are popular places to stay near the park. If you want to explore without your pet, both towns are good bets to find a great Rover sitter.
Are dogs allowed in Grand Teton National Park?
Dogs are not permitted on trails or backcountry within the park but are welcome at campgrounds, in parking lots, and in boats on Jackson Lake. The surrounding Bridger-Teton National Forest has many trails open for hiking with dogs and the park provides a convenient map with suggestions for where to go with your pup.
Hiking: Hiking with dogs is generally not permitted within the park. The exceptions are from November 1-April 30 when seasonal road closures allow leashed dogs on most roadways including Teton Park, Antelope Flats, and Moose-Wilson roads.
Camping: dogs are welcome at developed campgrounds.
Boarding options: the town of Jackson is a busy spot for park go-ers and a great place to find a Rover sitter.