A few months ago data genius Dr. Randy Olson set his skills to devising the Ultimate American Road Trip, which connected chosen landmarks in each of the lower 48 states and the District of Columbia, using the shortest possible route. And just two weeks later Patrick Vinton figured out a way to shorten the route by 251 miles!
I’m not nearly as smart at these two gentlemen, but their articles got my wheel turning … what would the Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip look like? For me, connecting the dots was the easy part – though Dr. Olson and Mr. Vinton could probably improve upon my route selection. The much more challenging task was choosing just one pet friendly attraction in each state!
Focusing on locations of natural wonder, historical significance, and quintessential Americana, my final selections were fueled by the desire to provide an interesting variety of activities for travelers and their furry companions. From beaches to mountain tops, canoe trips to train rides, bustling cities to quiet retreats … this is the Ultimate Pet Friendly American Road Trip!
The entire route is 14,199 miles and would take 276 driving hours to complete, so I’ve broken it down into four sections of differing lengths that may fit more easily into your pet friendly vacation plans.
We start in West Virginia, but the road trip is just a big circle – so you can jump on anywhere along the way! This section covers 1,396 miles and would take about 31 hours to drive.
A. West Virginia – Monongahela National Forest (Spruce Knob / Seneca Rocks)
B. Washington, DC – The National Mall
C. Maryland – Cruise the Chesapeake with Cruises on the Bay
D. Delaware – Walking Tour of Historic New Castle
E. New Jersey – Wildwood Dog Beach off Poplar Avenue
F. Pennsylvania – Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway
G. New York – Central Park
H. Connecticut – Mystic Seaport
I. Rhode Island – Newport Cliff Walk
J. Massachusetts – Freedom Trail & Boston Common Leash-Free Area
K. Maine – Acadia National Park
L. New Hampshire – Appalachian Trail at Mt. Washington State Park
M. Vermont – Dog Mountain
Picking up at Dog Mountain in Vermont, the next leg of the trip takes you to Idaho. This section covers 4,044 miles and would take about 81 hours to drive.
A. Vermont – Dog Mountain
B. Ohio – The Holden Arboretum
C. Michigan – Arch Rock on Mackinac Island
D. Indiana – Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
E. Illinois – Chicago Lakefront Trail & Montrose Dog Beach
F. Iowa – Effigy Mounds National Monument
G. Wisconsin – Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge
H. Minnesota – Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
I. North Dakota – Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site
J. South Dakota – Custer State Park
K. Nebraska – Oglala National Grasslands & Toadstool Geologic Park
L. and M. Montana – Beartooth Highway through Custer Gallatin & Shoshone National Forests
N. Wyoming – Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark
O. Idaho – Dog Bark Park Inn
Taking up the trail in Idaho, the route takes you down to Texas. This section covers 3,864 miles and would take about 72 hours to drive.
A. Idaho – Dog Bark Park Inn
B. Washington – San Juan Islands
C. Oregon – Portland’s Parks & Gardens (Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, Eastbank Esplanade, Forest Park, International Rose Test Garden, Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park)
D. California – Carmel-by-the-Sea Dog Beach
E. Nevada – Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
F. Arizona – Grand Canyon National Park’s South Rim Trail
H. Colorado – Telluride to Mountain Village Gondola
I. New Mexico – White Sands National Monument
J. Texas – San Antonio River Walk
Picking up in Texas, the route takes you back to the starting point in West Virginia. This section covers 4,895 miles and would take about 92 hours to drive.
A. Texas – San Antonio River Walk
B. Oklahoma – Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge
D. Arkansas – Canoe the Buffalo National River
E. Missouri – Gateway Arch Park & Riverfront Trail
F. Tennessee – Shelby Farms Park Off-Leash Area
G. Louisiana – Louisiana State Capital Grounds and Gardens
H. and I. Mississippi – Natchez Trace Parkway – Natchez to Nashville
J. Kentucky – Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park
K. Georgia – Rock City Gardens
L. Alabama – Little River Canyon National Preserve
M. Florida – Ft. De Soto Dog Beach & Playground
N. South Carolina – Magnolia Plantation & Gardens
O. North Carolina – Biltmore Estate
P. Virginia – Colonial Williamsburg
Q. West Virginia – Monongahela National Forest (Spruce Knob / Seneca Rocks)