More Americans are traveling with their pets, and some national park sites have found a creative way to welcome dogs without compromising their rules or affecting the wildlife. In 2015, the Bark Ranger program began at Olympic National Park and became official in the summer of 2016. Montezuma Castle was next, and since then the popular program has been spreading to other parks.
The Bark Ranger program was introduced as a way to encourage responsible national park travel with dogs.
BARK stands for:
Bag your poop
Always wear a leash (6-foot max)
Respect wildlife (give them their space)
Know where you can go (which trails/areas are pet friendly)
Dogs participating in the program can be sworn in as Bark Rangers, and their owners will be eligible to purchase a special tag for their pup’s collar. Each participating park has their own tag, so you can collect them all!
Not all the parks that participate in the Bark Ranger program are especially pet friendly. For example, Olympic National Park and Devil’s Tower are both very restrictive when it comes to pets on the trails. But there are others, like Petrified Forest and Acadia National Park, that are very pet friendly!
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! 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.
READ MORE ⇒ The Most Dog Friendly National Parks in the U.S.
Note: Some national parks, such as Glacier, Denali, and Sleeping Bear Dunes have a Bark Ranger program that employs dogs to control or protect 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!
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