Dog-friendly National Parks: Where your pup can roam

Ah, the destinations you will explore alongside your furry companion — as long as you’re aware of the permissible areas. For instance, the majority of National Forests are open to pets, whereas National Parks generally impose stricter regulations regarding pets. While there are a few exceptions like Isle Royale National Park, where pets are entirely prohibited, even the National Parks least inclined towards accommodating dogs usually offer designated trails and zones for you and your pet to relish.

Fortunately, in cases where a National Park lacks canine-compatible trails, you can often discover alternative areas to wander with your pet or conveniently place them in nearby boarding facilities. No matter the scenario, we’re available to engage in discussions on this matter.

dog friendly park

Let us help you plan your perfect pet-friendly road trip by breaking down the most dog-friendly National Parks, where you can go, and how you can get there.

Most dog-friendly National Parks

You don’t need to leave Fido behind when visiting these National Parks. These 8 have plenty of places for your pup or pet to roam.

Shenandoah National Park

There are over 500 miles of trails across Shenandoah National Park. The best part? Of those 500+ miles, pets are only prohibited on less than 20 miles of trails.

These restrictions apply to the following trails:

All that to say, Shenandoah has an incredible amount of dog-friendly hikes.

dog friendly national park

Best dog-friendly hikes in Shenandoah NP

Acadia National Park

One of the most pet-friendly parks is Acadia National Park. Here, there are 100 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads where pets are permitted.

most dog friendly national parks

Still, there are some trails where pets aren’t allowed:

Best dog-friendly hikes in Acadia NP

White Sands National Park

At White Sands, your pet can go almost anywhere you can go (except the Visitor Center), as long as you follow a few simple rules.

Pets must be:

  1. Non-disruptive
  2. Leashed (leash must be no longer than 6 feet)
  3. Under physical control at all times

And, of course, make sure you’re picking up after your pup.

pet friendly national parks

Best dog-friendly hikes in White Sands NP

There are five well-maintained hiking trails at the park.

Petrified Forest National Park

Known among many as the most dog-friendly National Park. Pets are allowed on all the trails and can even head to the visitor center to become an official BARK ranger.

dog friendly hikes

Best dog-friendly hikes in Petrified Forest NP

New River Gorge National Park

The newest National Park is also pet-friendly — score! Like other parks that made this list, pets are allowed on ALL trails. Park regulations have been developed in a way that allows you to share the experience with your pet while still protecting the native animals and other park resources.

The only thing pets can’t join in on is public ranger programs.

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Best dog-friendly hikes in New River Gorge NP

Mammoth Cave National Park

While your pet can’t explore caves or cave buildings with you at Mammoth Cave National Park, the park offers on-site boarding for them while you explore. Afterward, you can pick them up for a day of fun with more than 70 miles of surface-level trails for them to hike.

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Best dog-friendly hikes in Mammoth Cave NP

Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve

The largest National Park — equal to SIX Yellowstone National Parks — Wrangell–St. Elias National Park and Preserve allows leashed pets on all trails and in the backcountry.

It is important to note that trapping is popular and legal in Alaska from the fall through the spring. When hiking, make sure to maintain control of your pet and keep them leashed at all times as they could get caught in traps or snares.

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Best dog-friendly hikes in Wrangell–St. Elias NP

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Pets (defined as dogs, cats, or any domesticated animal) are allowed on over 100 miles of hiking trails and on the multi-use Towpath Trail.

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Best dog-friendly hikes in Cuyahoga Valley NP

More restricted, but still dog-friendly National Parks

Are some of the fan-favorite national parks dog-friendly? Well, some are to an extent. However, as a general rule, large National Parks with extensive backcountry areas don’t allow dogs on the trails.

The National Park Service gives a variety of reasons for such restrictions:

  1. Dogs can carry diseases to wildlife.
  2. Dogs can chase and pose a threat to surrounding wildlife.
  3. Dogs may bark and disturb the natural quiet of the wilderness.
  4. Pets may be seen as prey for larger animals, like bears or coyotes.
  5. Some National Park visitors may be afraid of dogs.

That said, even those considered the more restricted dog-friendly National Parks still offer pet-friendly hikes. So, if you still want to bring your pet along for the ride to the following parks, you’ll still have some hiking and camping options.

Note: In most cases, when pets aren’t allowed on trails, service animals are an exception.

Yosemite National Park

Don’t forget that our crew at Outdoorsy Yosemite offers RV spots and cabins at our campground. You can even rent an RV and have it delivered and set up for your arrival.

In Yosemite, pets are allowed in developed areas, fully paved roads, bike paths, and sidewalks, as well as at most campgrounds. However, there are some places they are not permitted including:

That said, in comparison to others, Yosemite National Park is still relatively pet-friendly!

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Dog-friendly trails at Yosemite NP

Pet daycares nearby

Pet-friendly public lands

Great Smoky Mountain National Park

The most visited National Park is dog-friendly as far as camping goes, and you can bring your leashed pup along for a picnic or a walk along the roads. However, dog-friendly hikes are limited.

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Dog-friendly trails at Great Smoky Mountain NP

Pet daycares nearby

Pet-friendly public lands

Yellowstone National Park

In the world’s first National Parl, Yellowstone National Park, pets are not allowed on boardwalks, hiking trails, in the backcountry, or in thermal areas. If you decide to bring your pet to the park, you must accompany them at all times and keep within 100 feet of roads, parking areas, and campgrounds.

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Dog-friendly trails at Yellowstone NP

There are no pet-friendly hikes. But you can take your pup on a scenic drive through the park!

Pet daycares nearby

Pet-friendly public lands

Pet-friendly RV rentals

Find other pet-friendly RV rentals near Yellowstone.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park doesn’t allow pets on trails, along lakeshores outside of developed locations, in the backcountry, or in any building. However, you can bring them along for the ride down park roads, to front country campgrounds, at picnic areas, in parking areas, and on boats on lakes.

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Dog-friendly trails at Glacier NP

There are no pet-friendly hikes in the park.

Pet daycares nearby

Pet-friendly public lands

Joshua Tree National Park

There are a couple of paved trails at Joshua Tree where pets are permitted. Apart from that, your leashed pet can join you within 100 feet of roads, at picnic areas, and in campgrounds.

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Dog-friendly trails at Joshua Tree NP

Pet daycares nearby

Pet-friendly public lands

How to plan a pet-friendly RV trip

Are these National Parks on your travel radar for you and your furry friend? Sounds like it’s time to get planning.

Once you’ve decided where you want to head to, check out these other resources to round out the perfect pet-friendly plan:

Now, you’re ready to ride off into the sunset.

Hit the road with Fido

Wherever you decide to hit the road with your pet, always remember to BARK:

And make sure to check each National Park’s website before you go for more detailed pet restrictions and any changes.