Best Dog Friendly National Parks in the U.S.
May 04, 2020
Are you looking for your next outdoor adventure to enjoy with your dog? Let’s take a look at our country’s best pet friendly national parks!
Acadia National Park - Maine
Acadia is a beautiful, pet friendly national park off the coast of Maine that will make every two-legged and four-legged visitor happy! Pets are welcome on nearly all 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads within the park. The only exceptions are a few trails that require climbs using iron rungs or ladders.
Dogs are also allowed in most of the public areas at Acadia. The only places your pup can’t go are Duck Harbor Campground, Wild Gardens of Acadia, and Echo Lake Beach and Sand Beach during high season (mid-May to mid-Sept). Everywhere else your dog is welcome to join you – even on the free shuttles that run around the park!
Visit the pet friendly Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Cleveland, Ohio. Following the Cuyahoga River, pets are welcome to join you on all of the 125 miles of trails in the park.
Passing through woodlands, wetlands, and old fields, some trails require stream crossings with stepping stones or log bridges. Others, including the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, are nearly level and easily accessible to all visitors. Check with the rangers to determine which trails best suit your hiking style.
For the best scenery, head for Bradford Reservation. This five-mile trail offers views of the Tinkers Creek Gorge, Ohio’s most magnificent canyon. Short spurs off the main trail will also take you to Bridal Veil Falls and the Hemlock Creek Loop Trail.
Grand Canyon National Park - Arizona
Located in northern Arizona, you and your pup are welcome to enjoy all 13 miles of the South Rim Trail trail at the Grand Canyon.
Skirting the edge of the canyon, the path is easy to navigate, but remember that the high elevation and dry climate can lead to dehydration. Even if you’re only planning a short stroll, bring plenty of water and a collapsible bowl.
Great Sand Dunes National Park - Colorado
Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado is home to the tallest dunes in North America, set in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes and tundra.
Pets are welcome up to the top of the first tall ridge of dunes, between High Dune and the Castle Creek Picnic Area, and throughout the adjoining Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. Remember that the sand here can be hot, so pack an old towel to dry off and enjoy a splash in Medano Creek with your pal!
Hot Springs National Park - Arkansas
Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is popular for the steaming water that seeps from from the lower west slope of Hot Springs Mountain.
Your pet is welcome to join you for a half-mile stroll down Bathhouse Row and along the Grand Promenade. Once you’re warmed up, hit the 26-miles of inter-connected trails flanking the city.
Indiana Dunes National Park - Indiana
What will you find at Indiana Dunes National Park? Cool breezes off Lake Michigan. Caribbean blue waters rolling up the shore and a beach that stretches for miles!
Leashed pets are welcome on the beaches east of Indiana Dunes State Park, in the picnic areas, and the campground. They can also explore all trails, except Glenwood Dune, Great Marsh and Pinhook Bog. At nearby Indiana Dunes State Park leashed pets are welcome on all trails, in the picnic areas, campground, and on the beach east of the life-guarded area. Pets cannot go on the swimming beach in the State Park.
Mammoth Cave National Park - Kentucky
Mammoth Cave is a great choice for dogs who love the outdoors as it’s home to over 70 miles of pet friendly trails.
Though pets aren’t allowed below ground, you’ll find several short trails around the Visitors Center. Check out the Green River Bluffs Trail, which winds through the hardwood forest and ends with a nice overlook of the Green River. If you’re looking for a longer trek, the North Side Trails provide some good options that meander past waterfalls and cut through one of the last remaining old growth forests in Kentucky.
National Mall and Memorial Gardens - Washington D.C.
The National Mall and Memorial Gardens stretch from the the U.S. Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and, while pets are not allowed inside most of the monuments, they will enjoy admiring some of the most famous structures in the world with you!
Natchez Trace National Parkway - Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee
The Natchez Trace National Parkway preserves sites of archeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational, and scenic significance along its 444-mile route.
The Trace is the perfect pet friendly road trip, because there’s something to sniff around every bend! Pets are welcome at the more than 100 exhibits, but not inside the buildings. When it’s time to really stretch your legs, 28 hiking and self-guided trails are just steps away.
Padre Island National Seashore - Texas
Padre is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, and the diversity of wildlife found here is stunning. A number of rare, threatened, and endangered species make their homes in this environment, so it’s extremely important that pets remain on leash at all times.
Padre Island provides two established campgrounds and more than 64 miles of beaches open to primitive camping.
Petrified Forest National Park - Arizona
Located in eastern Arizona, Route 66 runs through the park, and the northern border extends into the fabulous Painted Desert.
Dogs on leash are welcome on all the park's trails, but the Petrified Forest is well-known for its fossil deposits. So don’t let your pup gnaw on any bones he finds!
Shenandoah National Park - Virginia
Of the more than 500 miles of trails in the park, only 20 miles are off-limits to dogs because of rock climbs or difficult passages. The stunning views, peaceful wilderness, and cascading waterfalls are all accessible to your dog.
White Sands National Park - New Mexico
White Sands is home to the largest gypsum dunefield in the world, covering over 275 square miles.
You and your pet can explore the entire park together, and there are plenty of trails to check out. The Playa Trail, Dune Life Nature Trail, and Interdune Boardwalk all have interesting exhibits about the geography and plant and animal life. For some lighthearted fun, bring a sled (or buy one in the visitors center) and scoot down the dunes. Or, if you want to experience the vastness of the dunefield, hike the Alkali Flat Trail. Be aware that this trail is not flat. The 5-mile loop runs up and down dunes the entire way, which can make the hiking strenuous, but the views are priceless.