Top National Parks to Take Your Dog This Year

You might be surprised to discover some bucket-list national parks do permit pets. And some — but not all — even have dog-friendly hiking trails in their midst. 

To that end, it’s worth noting every national park has its own pet policy, so be sure to brush up on where your pup’s permitted before entering. This will ensure you and Fido have a fine time and don’t face a stiff fine. 

So, which national parks are pet-friendly? To take out any guesswork, we pared down 10 national parks that allow dogs on hiking trails, including some notable grounds and lesser-known natural wonders that happily welcome you and your trail dog. 

Now, what do you say? Let’s take these dog hiking pointers outside!

1. Acadia National Park (Maine)

an aerial view of a lake surrounded by fall foliage at Acadia National Park, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

Meandering along the Atlantic coastline, Acadia National Park boasts 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads where pets are permitted, plus three campgrounds: Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods. Isle au Haut, accessible by ferry from the mainland, is also dog-friendly. 

More strenuous trails, including Acadia Mountain, Penobscot Mountain, and even the coveted Cadillac Mountain (just the west face), are not recommended for pets. In addition, swimming is discouraged in the lakes and also beaches as to not disturb any wildlife. On the note of critters, pack your tweezers and beware of porcupines!

2. Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)

a cliffside view of green rolling hills at Shenandoah National Park, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

A little over an hour outside of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park brims with scenic beauty for you and your trained-up trail dog. Think waterfalls, vistas, and wildflower fields, some of which run right alongside or right into the Appalachian Trail. Much of this is protected lands for deer, songbirds, black bears, and other wildlife. 

Pups are permitted on all but 20 miles or so of the park’s 500-mile trail system, so you and your furbaby have a lot of ground to cover. Pack those dog booties!

3. Yosemite National Park (California)

a body of water below a mountain range in Yosemite National Park, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

A granite oasis in the High Sierras, Yosemite National Park is no doubt a bucket-list adventure for hiking enthusiasts and travelers alike. And believe it or not, you can bring your dog inside the park and let them enjoy the fresh scent of Giant Sequoias in developed areas, most all campgrounds, and on fully paved roads.

Worth mentioning is that Yosemite’s dog-friendly hiking trails are limited, with the 3.6-mile Wawona Meadow Loop the most regarded of the dog-friendly trails. Other areas where pets are permitted include Chowchilla Mountain Road and Four Mile and Eleven Mile fire roads, as well as Hodgdon Meadow. Remember, the restrictions are all in the name of safety, which is especially important in Yosemite’s bear country.

Can’t resist the urge to hike a dogs-not-allowed portion of the 1,200-square-mile national park? Consider dropping Fido at Yosemite Hospitality, a dog kennel in Yosemite Valley, for the day. 

4. Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio)

a waterfall among fall foliage at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

Right outside of Cleveland and encompassing the Cuyahoga River, Cuyahoga Valley National Park has more than 110 miles of hiking trails, and dogs are permitted on 20 of them along the Towpath Trail. 

For all their beauty, the forests, farmlands, and rolling hills for which Cuyahoga Valley National Park is so renowned also house one pesky critter: ticks. They’re most active from early spring until late fall, but discourage your pup from wandering into wooded or weedy areas on trails to avoid the bugs at all costs. As well, you might want to invest in trick prevention products like collars, sprays, or gels — refer to your vet for what’s best.

5. Zion National Park (Utah)

a large pink sandstone cliff in Zion National Park, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

Known as Utah’s First National Park — and Americans’ most Instagrammable in recent years — Zion National Park has many miles of hiking trails and dogs are permitted on just one of them: Pa’rus Trail, a 3.4-mile out-and-back adventure along the Virgin River. 

Leashed dogs are also allowed along public roads and parking areas, developed campgrounds and picnic areas, and on the grounds of the Zion Lodge. Need to take a day to explore the iconic pink sandstone cliffs on your own? The neighboring towns of Rockville, Hurricane, St. George, Kanab, or Cedar City all have boarding kennels.

6. Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

clear skies and blue waters shine at Crater Lake National Park, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

Where the park revolves around the deepest lake in the U.S. that’s nestled in the Cascade Mountain Range, Crater Lake National Park also encompasses a 33-mile portion of the Pacific Crest Trail, and pets are permitted on this year-round. In just summer and fall, pets are also allowed on the Godfrey Glen Trail, Lady of the Woods Trail, and Grayback Drive, none of which have lake views — for a dog-friendly jaunt along the lake, consider the 1/4-mile paved promenade at Rim Village instead.

Pups are also permitted on paved roads, in parking lots, and up to 50 feet away from these areas when they’re free of significant snow. Yes, Crater Lake National Park sees a lot of snow — an annual average of 43 feet! No matter where you and Fido roam, have a dog coat and dog booties handy here.

7. Olympic National Park (Washington)

the sun sets at a beach piled with driftwood at Olympic National Park, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

Enveloping nearly a million acres — and spanning ecosystems from glacier-capped mountains to rainforests — Olympic National Park has numerous dog-friendly hiking trail options: Peabody Creek Trail,  Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek (1/2 mile), Madison Falls Trail, Spruce Railroad Trail, July Creek Loop Trail, and the beaches between the Hoh and Quinault Reservations. Mentioning beaches, Olympic National Park has plenty thanks to its 70 miles of coastline.

Discourage Fido from venturing onto tidal rocks, as the sharp stones and barnacles can cut their paws. Have that pet first-aid kit nearby, in case accidents happen. Want more hiking options? A different entity from Olympic National Park, the neighboring Olympic National Forest is teeming with dog-friendly hiking trails.

8. Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)

mist rises off a rock formation at Hot Springs National Park, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

City-slicking dogs and pet owners alike might rejoice over Hot Springs National Park.  It’s half urban park — following nine historic bathhouses dotting downtown Hot Springs’ streets — and half a hiking trail system. Dogs are welcome on all 26-miles of those hiking trails, boasting mountain views and rambling creeks. There are pet waste stations throughout the grounds, so no excuses to leave dog poop bags behind!

Also worth mentioning is it can get rather hot here in the summer, so bring water and consider dog booties to protect Fido’s paws on the paved, urban portion of Hot Springs National Park.

9. Congaree National Park (South Carolina)

a boardwalk below canopies of champion trees in Congaree National Park, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

National parks don’t get more pet-friendly than Congaree National Park. Here, dogs are allowed on every hiking trail, plus campgrounds and the boardwalk. That boardwalk is an elevated path above Congaree National Park’s bottomland hardwood forest — one of the hallmarks of this national park.

Other areas of the 26,276-acre park take hikers and hiking dogs under the canopies of champion trees, making up one of the tallest deciduous forests in the U.S. There are also longer treks available into the backcountry — you’re going to want your pup to wear their dog hiking backpack for these!

10. Mojave National Preserve (California)

the sun sets on the Mojave National Preserve, a dog-friendly national park where one can go hiking with dogs

This 1.5 million-acre desert wonderland is the third largest unit of the National Park System in the contiguous United States. Set in the Mojave Desert against sand dunes, Joshua Trees, and occasional wildflowers, the Mojave National Preserve has several developed hiking trails and numerous cross-country hiking opportunities. Dogs are welcome to all of them. 

Just beware that heat exhaustion is real here, as temperatures can reach upward of 120 degrees in the summer months. Don’t forget to bring extra water and maybe even a cooling collar for your pup. In addition, steer your dog away from cactus spines and also any rattlesnakes or scorpions you pass along the trail.

40 More Dog-Friendly National Parks 

Even as most national parks do welcome dogs past their entrance, many don’t allow pets on hiking trails. This is often to preserve wildlife habitats, park resources, and to protect your pet from tough terrain or even predators. Rather, our furry friends might only be permitted in developed areas such as in your cars while driving park roads, campgrounds, picnic areas, parking areas, and some trail systems where wildlife’s no worry. 

To that end, we’ve rounded up 40 more pet-friendly national parks. Sure, some are less hiking-heavy, but each is a means for you and your furbaby to make new memories. 

  1. Badlands National Park (South Dakota)
  2. Big Bend National Park (Texas)
  3. Rocky Mountain National Park (Colorado)
  4. Devil’s Tower National Monument (Wyoming)
  5. Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah)
  6. Carlsbad Caverns National Park (New Mexico)
  7. Colorado National Monument (Colorado)
  8. Effigy Mounds National Monument (Iowa)
  9. Glacier National Park (Montana)
  10. Grand Tetons National Park (Wyoming)
  11. Northern Cascades National Park (Washington)
  12. San Juan Island National Historical Park (Washington)
  13. Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota)
  14. Yellowstone National Park (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming)
  15. Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (Colorado)
  16. Indiana Dunes National Park (Indiana)
  17. Mammoth Cave National Park (Kentucky)
  18. Natchez Trace National Parkway (Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee)
  19. Padre Island National Seashore (Texas)
  20. White Sands National Park (New Mexico)
  21. Denali National Park (Alaska)
  22. Puʻuhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park (Hawaii)
  23. Big Cypress National Preserve (Florida)
  24. Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area (Tennessee, Kentucky)
  25. North Country National Scenic Trail (Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin)
  26. Catoctin Mountain Park (Maryland)
  27. Voyageurs National Park (Minnesota)
  28. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (Montana, Wyoming)
  29. Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming)
  30. Death Valley National Park (California, Nevada)
  31. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks (California)
  32. Lassen Volcanic National Park (California)
  33. Mount Rainier National Park (Washington)
  34. Devil’s Postpile National Monument (California)
  35. Assateague Island National Seashore (Virginia)
  36. Prince William Forest Park (Virginia)
  37. Great Falls Park (Virginia)
  38. Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (Kansas)
  39. Buffalo National River (Arkansas)
  40.  Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona)

Experiencing new moments with our pets deepens our bonds with them and also builds trust. In the case of hiking with dogs, it also benefits our physical fitness and mental wellness thanks to being in the great outdoors. 

With these dog hiking pointers in hand and pet first-aid kits prepared, you can bet your boots — or Fido’s dog hiking boots — that you’ll knock your adventure out of the park…. just be sure to double-check if it’s a dog-friendly park first.

Happy trails!

Check out Honest Paws for more pet-friendly tips.

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