The Pack Report

The Best Dog-Friendly US National Parks

The Best Dog-Friendly US National Parks

Is your pooch all in when it comes to exciting adventures? If yes, then give him or her a much-deserved vacation in a national park.

Unfortunately, national parks have strict pet policies, limiting pets only to designated areas. These regulations help ensure the safety of the park, wildlife, visitors, natural resources, employees, and your pet.

Luckily, we’ve listed some of the best dog-friendly US national parks ready to accommodate you and your furry friend. Read on to learn more about these National Parks.

ACADIA NATIONAL PARK, MAINE

Acadia National Park- a 47,000-acre Atlantic coast recreation area is one of the smallest parks. This park is famous for its stunning fall foliage, and its rugged and rocky coastline skirting the Atlantic Ocean. 

Dogs on a leash are permitted to access 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads throughout the park. You and your pup will surely enjoy the breathtaking view on top of Acadia’s Cadillac Mountain- the highest point at 1,530 feet!

Remember that Acadia National Park permits dogs within its premises as long as they are on-leash at all times. Owners and their dogs are also not allowed to swim in the park’s lake, because most of them are public water supplies.

Some campgrounds allow dogs except in Isle au Haut campground. Other off-limit areas are Sand Beach, Echo Lake Beach, ladder trails, and public buildings.

When’s the best time to visit?

Although summer has the most pleasant temperature, it is also the busiest season in the park. Expect long waiting lines, crowded parking lots, busy-viewpoints, and congested roads during these times. Mid-September through early October is the best time to visit the park. By this time the summer crowd has already left, and it’ll be more peaceful for you and your pooch.

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA

This great valley is best known for its waterfalls, unusual rock formations, towering granite monoliths, legendary views, and deep valleys. It is hard to top the beauty and the tranquility of this park!

In Yosemite, trails are off-limits to dogs but they allow leashed pets on most fully paved roads, sidewalks, and bicycle paths. Dogs are also allowed in campgrounds, except in walk-in and group campsites, public buildings including in-park lodging, shuttle buses, and unplowed roads covered in snow.

You can hike up to Glacier Point with your furry friend and enjoy the view down into the Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, and the Vernal and Nevada Falls. Or hike through Mirror Lake and see the stunning meadow area. Pets are not allowed to play in the meadows. But it’s a great view to enjoy with your pup anyway. Also, be extra cautious during your hikes for any possibilities of a bear encounter.

When’s the best time to visit?

The park is open year-round, but there’s a high influx of tourists from May to October. If you want a wonderfully quiet and crowd-free park, visit in November through April. And remember that many roads and trails in Yosemite are closed the majority of the year due to snow.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited parks in the US. Walk-in solitude and breath fresh air with your pup at this great vacation destination.

To protect wildlife and pets, Rocky Mountain National Park only allows dogs in certain areas like paved roads, in picnic areas, and in developed areas. Dogs are restricted on all trails and in the backcountry. Pets should be kept on a leash no longer than six feet and should be controlled when making noise that impacts the wildlife and the visitors.

If you’d like to hike with your pet, visit some hiking alternative nearby trails outside Rocky Mountain National Park like the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest and the Larimer County Open Space areas.

When’s the best time to visit?

The best time to visit the park is June to September when the snow has melted and the attractions are accessible. Also, take into consideration the roads you want to drive, because some roads like the Trail Ridge Road are usually closed from late October to late May.

Just like the other parks, summer is the busiest season for Rocky Mountains National Park. November through April is the best time to avoid crowds. But if summer is the only time of the year that fits into your schedule, then wake up early because the earlier you rise the chances you are likely to find a parking spot and the less crowded it will be in the park.

Always Keep in Mind

Here are some general rules when visiting the parks mentioned above:

  • Pets need to be on a short leash – no more than 6 feet (2 m) long.
  • Never leave your pet unattended.
  • Do not leave your dog in the car.
  • Clean up after them.
  • Bring your pet food and plenty of water!
  • When bringing a service dog, make sure it is trained to perform a specific task that assists a person with a disability. And, comfort animals are required to follow the same rules as other pets.

Check out our selection of durable and high-quality Pet Gear.

Happy adventuring, friends!

Guest post contributed by: Ane Graham. Read more of her tips at Dog Club Life.