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Pet Friendly National Parks and the B.A.R.K Ranger Program

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Dog owners who travel with their pets usually resign themselves to the fact that most U.S. National Parks are not very dog-friendly. However, the new BARK Ranger program is taking hold in some National Park Service properties, and that is opening up the possibilities for bringing your dog to a national park!

BARK Ranger Program Pet Friendly National Parks and the B.A.R.K Ranger Program |


B.A.R.K Ranger Program

As more Americans are traveling with their pets, some sites within the National Park Service are finding ways to welcome dogs without compromising their rules or affecting the wildlife. The B.A.R.K Ranger program was introduced in 2015 at Olympic National Park as a way to encourage responsible National Park travel with dogs. BARK stands for Bag your poop, Always wear a leash, Respect wildlife, Know where you can go.

Pet Friendly National Parks and the B.A.R.K Ranger Program |

Bailey and I were happy to learn that Arizona has two locations offering the BARK Ranger program, and we were able to visit both of them on a 2-week road trip around the state.

Petrified Forest National Park

As our pals Cool Whip and Hercules recently discovered, Petrified Forest National Park in Northeastern Arizona is super pet-friendly! This cool National Park is very diverse for a desert park – you can see petroglyphs, petrified forests, a painted desert and the historic Painted Desert Inn.

Petrified Forest National Park

Before I even asked about the program, the friendly ranger at the entrance offered us the BARK Ranger card, some dog-treats and information about where to buy a Bark Ranger tag. While it was too hot for any long hikes during our visit, we took a stroll around some of the petrified logs near the visitor’s center. Dogs are not allowed inside the visitor’s center, but there is a doggy drinking fountain outside, which was super convenient!

Petrified Forest National Park

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Our second stop was between Flagstaff and Phoenix at Montezuma Castle, another National Park site offering the BARK Ranger program. This is a great stop on an Arizona road trip as it’s not far from the highway, and you can see the “castle” on a very short walk from the park entrance.

Montezuma Castle National Monument

Montezuma Castle was one of our nation’s first National Monuments, designated to protect this 50-room pueblo ruin built by the Sinagua people over 600 years ago. Bringing your dog here can be a little tricky, as the entrance station where you pay is actually inside the visitor’s center, where dogs are not allowed. They were flexible enough with me, but if you are traveling with someone else, one person can stay outside with the dog while the other pays the entrance fee. Touring the monument is done on a paved path with decent shade, but bring water as it can be very hot!

Get Your Tag

Be sure to visit the park gift shop and pick up your very own BARK Ranger dog tag! These can also be ordered online. Petrified Forest was sold out so we got ours from their website, PetrifiedForestBookstore, and it was waiting for us when we got home.

Pet Friendly National Parks and the B.A.R.K Ranger Program |

Some additional NPS sites offering the BARK Ranger Program include:

Be A Good Ambassador

When you visit any national park, monument, or historical site, be sure to ask about the BARK Ranger program when you check in at the ranger station. The program is still expanding, and asking about it may encourage more parks to participate.

We are so lucky to have so many wonderful national parks, and even luckier when they allow pets – so please be sure to follow all the rules and be a good model for other pet owners, so we can all continue to enjoy the parks with our furry travel companions!

Other national parks and monuments that are especially pet friendly include the following, and check this list of the most dog friendly national parks in the country.

Note: Some national parks, such as Glacier and Denali, have a Bark Ranger program that employs dogs to control wildlife. If you are unsure which program is offered by a particular park, a quick phone call to the visitor center will clear things up!

Is your dog a BARK Ranger?

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

  • Marsha Key says:

    Northwest Farm Terrier in the pictures.

    • Amy at says:

      Hi Marsha! The adorable dog in the pictures is named Bailey, and she’s an Airedale Terrier owned by the author of the article, Leigh Wilson. Waggin’ trails to you!

  • That’s awesome, Alexandra! I wish the program had been active at Acada when we were there last year. It’s good to see it’s expanding!

  • My girl Tikaa just got her Bark Ranger badge in Acadia National Park. What a cool idea, and I hope it expands massively.

  • That’s fantastic, Hayley! And I completely agree with you. I hope more parks join the program!

  • My two dogs, Captain and Sonny, are BARK Rangers at Olympic National Park (WA) and Devil’s Tower National Monument (WY). It’s so adorable and a great dog owner tourist attraction.

  • I agree, Linda! We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the program grows quickly. There are a handful of national parks that are very pet friendly – if you’d like to give them a try check out our blog post:…/Waggin’ trails!

  • Thanks for your information on the National Parks Bark program. I had just decided that we would take our RV travels elsewhere!!!! Hopefully, more National Parks will encourage this program and I can add them to my visit list.

  • Hi Barb! I’m so glad you found us, too – welcome to the pack! =)You and your husband can absulutely have a fantastic time traveling with your rescue pup. There’s so much that you can do together – we’ve been traveling for 8.5 years with our dogs, and we’re still finding new and exciting things to experience together! Check out our destination guides ( ) for some ideas, and let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Waggin’ trails!

  • Barb Hodge says:

    WOW!!! Just found you on facebook and am I ever glad I did. We wanted to plan a trip out west, but we need to bring our rescue dog with as she suffers from seperation from us. I figured that the hubby and I would have to take turns staying in our camper with her while the other is out looking around. It’s great to see others love pets as most of us do.

  • That’s fantstic, Karen! We’ll add you to the list.

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