Pet Travel. Made Easy.

Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park With Dogs

Sharing stories from people having fun traveling with their pets is part of the joy of – especially when they do things differently than us. We’ve visited Joshua Tree National Park with Ty and Buster, and didn’t find it to be very pet friendly. But Mary Hone took her dogs, Roxy and Torrey, and discovered that dogs are welcome to hike all the dirt roads in the park – and there are a lot to choose from! What a delight to have this fresh perspective on Joshua Tree National Park!


Sharing YOUR pet travel experiences may be just the nudge someone else needs to pack up and head out with their own best friend. If you’re interested in writing a guest post for Take Paws, let us know!


Dog owners are always bemoaning the fact that national parks are not pet friendly. Generally, pets are allowed only within 100 feet of a paved road, a parking area, or a 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. 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 good, pet friendly hiking at a national park is rare. That makes Joshua Tree a real treat for people who want to be able to hike in a national park with their dogs!

Hiking at Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs |

Before I went to Joshua Tree, I checked the website for their pet policies and 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. There are 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 courtesy rules apply of walking on a leash, and picking up after your dog.

It was nice for me to be able to explore, and have the dogs along. And I certainly was not the only dog owner taking advantage of Joshua Tree’s pet friendly policy.

Hiking at Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs | Hiking at Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs |

Joshua Tree NP 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 of course the Joshua trees that make this park famous.

Hiking at Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs | Hiking at Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs |

We started at the south entrance, and by mid-afternoon we were well into the north end of the park where we stopped to watch a bunch of rock climbers and soak up the sun on a beautiful day. It was a fun excursion to a place I have always wanted to see.

If you go with your dog, be sure to get a park map showing all the dirt roads you can walk on. The ranger I spoke with at the visitor center was also helpful in helping me decide exactly where to go. Take plenty of water for you and your pets, and be courteous to other people you meet.

Hiking at Joshua Tree National Park with Dogs |

About the author: I’m tickled to introduce you to my good friend, Mary! She’s a photographer and the author of Tales From The Back Road, a blog about “art, traveling, and livin’ the life.” She and her husband, Al, are both talented artists, and they travel full-time in an RV with their adorable dogs, Roxy and Torrey.

Planning a pet friendly trip of your own? We’ll make it easy:
Pet Friendly Hotels | Pet Friendly Destinations | Pet Friendly Activities

  • Belly rub queen says:

    I wish I could give you a belly rub and a friendly nose “boop” sweet Joe – you clearly need one. Hope things get better and keep getting out there and enjoying the beauty of nature. Love and light!

  • Joe says:

    People go to National parks to get away and see whatever the local flora and fauna are. It is extremely annoying to have your stroll interrupted by a dog running or walking up to sniff you or chasing local animals. These parks are NOT a place for dogs and their owners to ruin others hard spent money on nature. Dog owners are selfish

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Joe. Thanks for your note. And I’m sorry you feel this way. I’m by no means advocating that pets should ever be allowed to disturb other guests. And certainly they should not be chasing wildlife! We’ll have to disagree on whether National Parks are a place for pets – I think they are. And there are some great examples in the national park service where people and pets seem to get along just fine.

    • Joe hates dogs says:

      Yes thank you for your note, Joe, and for going out of your way to comment on this pet-friendly website to voice your disdain for the dog owners who apparently don’t also pay for maintaining these natural parks.

    • Bobbie Jo Stall says:

      Why are you even on this website if you have such disdain for dogs and dog owners? Just to make a nasty comment?

      If you don’t have something nice to say you shouldn’t say it at all. Making a blanket comment that all dog owners are selfish is not very nice.

      People love their pets and they are like family to many people, therefore people like to take their dogs places. It’s a pretty simple concept to want to take a member of your family with you on a vacation. I suggest you except that concept because it is not going to change.

      I also suggest that you go to websites about things that are of interest to you so you can positively contribute to the conversation, otherwise, back to my original question, why are you even on this website?

      Just my two cents….have a nice day everyone!

    • Jasmine says:

      National Parks are not a place for humans. Do you see what we have done and are doing to the earth?

    • k says:

      that’s like saying kids cant go to national parks and trails coz they bug people. lol i understand and agree that yes dogs should be on leash and owners pick up after their dogs , but to say there are not allowed even on dog friendly trails to explore nature is ignorant of you. if that’s the case , kids running around on trails and getting in your way should not be allowed as well. dogs can enjoy nature as much as humans can .

    • Autumn says:

      What a weird comment for this site, a platform for dog lovers. Are you afraid of dogs? As noted, dogs aren’t allowed on trails. So go on trails. Simple. Incidentally, children are also a raging nuisance. I don’t think they belong in the park. They are loud, run amok, spread disease, can’t handle the heat. Hmm. See how that works?

  • NW says:

    Your pictures show your dog off leash. Is that the parks policy?

    • Amy at says:

      Hi NW! I think the author of this post probably slipped off her dogs’ leashes just for the photos. The policy is that pets must be on leash in Joshua Tree National Park. Thanks for pointing that out!

  • HT says:

    What are your recs for some of these pet friendly dirt roads? Do they have names?

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