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Best Dog Friendly National Parks

For many Americans, family vacation time means a trip to a national park. But for people traveling with their pets, finding national parks where their dogs will have some fun can be ruff! Many of our natural treasures impose strict limitations on where dogs are allowed … but there are a few that roll out the red carpet for Fido. Here are our country’s best dog friendly national parks:

Planning your next vacation? These are the most dog friendly national parks in the U.S.

Acadia National Park

Acadia is a dog friendly national park on the coast of Maine, and it’s an absolute gem! Acadia welcomes dogs on all 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads in the park – with the exception of a few trails that require iron rungs or ladders. Dogs are also allowed in all the pubic areas, except Duck Harbor Campground, Wild Gardens of Acadia, and on Echo Lake Beach and Sand Beach during high season (mid-May to mid-Sept). Everywhere else you can go in the park, your dog can go with you!

Buster & Ty on Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park - Bar Harbor, ME

Buster & Ty on Cadillac Mountain – Dog Friendly Acadia National Park, Maine

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Arched Bridge in Dog Friendly Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

A more recent addition to our national park collection, the dog friendly Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Cleveland, Ohio was designated in 2000. Following the “crooked” Cuyahoga River, dogs are welcome to join you on all of the 125 miles of trails though woodlands, wetlands, and old fields. Some trails require stream crossings with stepping stones or log bridges, while others, including the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail, are nearly level and easily accessible to all visitors.

For the best scenery, head for Bradford Reservation. This five-mile all-purpose trail crosses the Tinkers Creek Gorge area, Ohio’s most magnificent canyon, known for its hemlock forests. Short spurs off the main trail will also take you to Bridal Veil Falls and the Hemlock Creek Loop Trail.

Grand Canyon National Park

Buster and Ty at the Grand Canyon

Buster and Ty – Dog Friendly Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

By any measure, the Grand Canyon is a dog friendly national park! 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 quickly 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

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Dog Friendly Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

If we were giving awards for dog friendly national parks, Great Sand Dunes in southern Colorado would definitely be in the running! These are the tallest dunes in North America, set in a diverse landscape of grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra. Dogs are welcome up to the top of the first tall ridge of dunes, between High Dune and Castle Creek Picnic Area, and throughout the adjoining Great Sand Dunes National Preserve. Remember that the sand here can be hot, so splashing in Medano Creek may be an option – just be sure to bring an old towel to dry off your pal!

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park - Arkansas

Buster, Rod, and Ty – Dog Friendly Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

Dog friendly Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas may not be on your radar, but if you’re looking for a gorgeous setting with plenty of places to enjoy with your pooch, it should be! Popular for the steaming water that seeps from the the lower west slope of Hot Springs Mountain, people have been visiting this location for centuries. Bath houses sprung up to allow visitors to take advantage of the “healing waters” and this unique national park protects the geothermic spring water and historic structures of this early resort town.

Your dog 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, many of which were originally created for spa guests who were encouraged to exercise daily to maximize the health benefits of the baths.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Buster and Ty at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Buster, Rod, and Ty – Dog Friendly Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Naturally, the attraction here is the 336 miles of underground passages … but with over 70 miles of pet friendly trails, we consider Kentucky’s  Mammoth Cave a dog friendly national park! You’ll find several short trails around the Visitors Center, including the Green River Bluffs Trail, which winds through the hardwood forest to 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.

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park

View from Skyline Drive – Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Skyline Drive may be the most famous attraction at dog friendly Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, but you’ll definitely want to stop the car and get out for hike! Of the more than 500 miles of trails in the park, only 20 miles are off-limits to dogs because they require rock climbs or have difficult passages. The stunning views, peaceful wilderness, and cascading waterfalls are all accessible to your pup – it’s the picture of serenity, just 75 miles from Washington, DC!

Other National Parks

We’ve visited a number of other national parks on our travels that we consider less pet friendly than those listed above. Still, we found a way to enjoy each one with Buster and Ty. If you’re planning a trip to one of these parks and are curious to see what we thought of it, click the name below.

Badlands National Park – South Dakota

Big Bend National Park – Texas

Bryce Canyon National Park – Utah

Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico

Crater Lake National Park – Oregon

Glacier National Park – Montana

Grand Tetons National Park – Wyoming

Joshua Tree National Park – California

Northern Cascades National Park – Washington

Olympic National Park – Washington

Theodore Roosevelt National Park – North Dakota

White Sands National Monument – New Mexico

Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming

Zion National Park – Utah

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