While laws vary per park, several of the country’s top national parks have pet-friendly trails, camping, overnight accommodations, beachfront access, and other activities for you and your four-legged friends to enjoy.
Keep pets on leashes, dispose of waste correctly, and adhere to all other park rules and regulations when visiting. Pack enough water and a collapsible bowl for hydration on longer excursions and hot days, and consider using booties to protect delicate paws from hot and rough terrain. To avoid unexpected wildlife interactions and damage to sensitive ecosystems, make sure your dog is up to date on vaccines and meds, stick to authorized routes, and consult a veterinarian before embarking on any difficult excursions or new activities with your dog.
Alternatively, visit one of these ten dog-friendly national parks, which range from Maine’s rugged coastline to Washington’s snow-capped forests.
1. Acadia National Park
Maine’s 47,000-acre Acadia National Park, located along the North Atlantic Coast, features 158 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads flowing through rocky coastlines, lush woodlands, and granite mountain summits. Dogs are welcome on the park’s more than 100 miles of trails, three campgrounds (Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods), and free shuttles to day hikes on the gorgeous Isle au Haut. The Jordan Pond Full Loop, a 3.4-mile flat-packed trail with a few hard rock scrambles, and the Ocean Path, a 3-mile out-and-back gravel path with spectacular coastal vistas, are two of the greatest dog-friendly walks.
Dogs are only allowed on Sand Beach and Echo Lake during peak season (mid-May to mid-September), and they are not permitted in public buildings, lakes, ranger-led activities, or the Wild Gardens.
2. Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of the most visited and dog-friendly national parks in the country, with its majestic sequoias, tumbling waterfalls, and green meadows. Pets are allowed on numerous paved park roads, most campgrounds, and several trails, including the famed 5-mile Wawona Meadow Loop, a shaded, broad path excellent for running or an easy stroll that begins near the Yosemite Hotel and wanders through fields of wildflowers.
Pets are allowed in family campsites, such as Hodgdon Meadow Campground, which offers over 100 RV and tent spaces with facilities including fire rings, picnic tables, food lockers, and bathrooms with drinking water and flushing toilets. The campground is available all year, however, between mid-April and mid-October, reservations are needed.
3. Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, just an hour from Washington, D.C., offers it all: sweeping vistas, tumbling waterfalls, calm hardwood forests, plentiful animals, and 500 miles of trails. Given the difficult terrain, only 20 miles of trails are not pet-friendly. The 2.6-mile Hawksbill Loop is a moderate to steep trek that rewards you with multiple magnificent waterfalls and panoramic vistas at the peak.
All campsites allow pets, although Loft Mountain on the park’s south side is the best option. It’s Shenandoah’s largest campsite, with over 200 sites and easy access to many trails, as well as coin-operated showers, potable water, flush toilets, and other seasonal facilities.
4. Olympic National Park
With your dog, visit Olympic National Park in Washington to see snow-capped mountains, scenic Pacific coastline, and deep rainforests. Pets are permitted on five different paths, including the wide, relatively level one-mile out-and-back Kalalch Beach and Nature Trail, which winds through hardwood woodland, and the more difficult 4.7-mile out-and-back Peabody Creek Trail. In the rainy season, trails might become muddy, so bring a towel to wipe wet paws and bellies. Dogs are also welcome on the beach and at the Kalaloch Campground, which features 168 campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, food lockers, drinking water, and facilities.
5. Hot Springs National Park
The free, urban Hot Springs National Park features 26 miles of pet-friendly hiking paths and historic bathhouses around the Arkansas resort city’s downtown. The out-and-back 2.4-mile Goat Rock Trail goes through patches of brilliant wildflowers and rugged boulders before rising 240 feet to provide spectacular panoramas of Indian Mountain and east Hot Springs. For a lengthier hike, the park’s 10-mile, one-way Sunset Trail passes through some of the park’s most remote parts, including its highest peak—Music Mountain—as well as expansive views at Balanced Rock and wildlife watching at Ricks Pond.
Gulpha Gorge Campground welcomes dogs and offers tent and RV campsites with modern bathrooms, picnic tables, pedestal grills, and water on a first-come, first-served basis. In government buildings, including the visitor’s center, pets are not permitted.
6. Indiana Dunes National Park
Consider the 15,000-acre Indiana Dunes National Park on Lake Michigan’s southern shore for a pet-friendly beach vacation. Indiana Dunes is a perfect escape for anyone traveling with pets, with 15 miles of sandy beaches, emerald-colored lakes, and more than 50 miles of trails highlighting the park’s various environments. All paths save three (Glenwood Dune, Great Marsh, and Pinhook Bog), as well as most beaches, the campsite, and picnic areas, are dog-friendly. The 4.7-mile Cowles Bog Trail, which travels through various varied habitats ranging from beaches to marshlands to grassy savannas, is a great way to experience the park’s biodiversity, which has been designated as a National Natural Landmark. There are no overnight camping facilities within the park, but there are various pet-friendly lodging options nearby, including campgrounds at Indiana Dunes State Park.
7. Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park is a famous site in Oregon’s Cascade Mountain Range that is pet-friendly all year. The park has snow-capped mountains, spectacular cliffs, and lush, old-growth forest, in addition to the country’s deepest lake. The Pacific Crest Track is dog-friendly all year, although the trail is frequently covered with snow, so prepare accordingly. Take your dog on the quarter-mile paved promenade at Rim Village for up-close views of the lake during the summer and fall, or opt for the easy, one-mile looping Godfrey Glen Trail to see blankets of wildflowers and the park’s stunning canyons.
The park does not have any pet-friendly campgrounds, and the nearest kennel is an hour away.