National parks are generally not known for being pet friendly. There are a handful of pet friendly national parks that go out of their way to make our furry travel companions welcome. But, as a general rule, finding pet friendly hiking at a national park is rare. That makes visiting Joshua Tree with dogs a pleasant surprise!
With a few exceptions, most national parks require pets to be within 100 feet of a paved road, parking area, or campground. And, when outside your vehicle, pets must be crated, in a carrier, or on a leash no longer than six feet at all times. Most trails are completely off limits to pets, so your experience is limited to what you can see from the turnouts and overlooks along the road. Not that those views are bad! It’s just that there’s so much more to see when you get off the beaten path.
READ MORE ⇒ America’s Most Pet Friendly National Parks
Before going to Joshua Tree, I checked the website for their pet policy. I was pleased to see that, while pets aren’t allowed on the trails or in the backcountry, they are welcome to walk all the unpaved roads. Joshua Tree has miles and miles of dirt roads providing access to a great variety of terrain, and they get very little vehicle traffic, so exploring on foot is perfect!
Of course, the standard etiquette of leashing and picking up after your dog always apply. And remember to pack plenty of water for you and your pet. The combination of elevation and desert air can quickly lead to dehydration.
Joshua Tree’s dirt roads provide access to spectacular scenery and a chance to immerse yourself in the desert landscape with your pet. According to the park’s rules, anywhere you can drive your vehicle, your leashed dog can go with you.
Most roads have pullouts or nearby parking areas where you can park and begin hiking, and some roads are more rugged than others, so choose a route that works for you. Though these roads don’t get much traffic, you should stay alert and move out of the way of vehicles.
All Vehicles (One-Way Distances)
4-Wheel Drive Vehicles (One-Way Distances)
Joshua Tree is one of the national parks that is pretty easy to explore without having to hike for miles on backcountry trails. I was able to drive down side roads, or even pull off the main road and see the rock formations and the Joshua trees that make this park famous.
We started at the south entrance, and by mid-afternoon we were well into the north end of the park. We stopped there to enjoy a picnic and watch a bunch of rock climbers soak up the sun on a beautiful day. It was a fun excursion to a place I have always wanted to see.
READ MORE ⇒ 7 Essentials for Desert Hiking with Dogs
When you visit Joshua Tree with your dogs, be sure to get a park map showing all the dirt roads you can walk. The rangers are also helpful in helping you decide which roads offer the best scenery and are appropriate for your skill level. No matter what you choose to do, it will be a trip you’ll never forget!
About the author: I’m tickled to introduce you to my good friend, Mary! She’s a photographer, artist, and the author of Tales From The Back Road, a blog about “art, traveling, and livin’ the life.” She and her husband, Al, also a talented artist, travel full-time in an RV with their adorable dogs, Roxy and Torrey.
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