First of all: Why are dogs not allowed in many areas?

Many people ask us, why are national parks not very dog friendly? The answer is simple really – to preserve these precious places and to keep you and your pets safe.  National parks are home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, many of which are endangered or at risk of being endangered. In addition, many of the animals are predatory.

Dogs may carry diseases that could threaten the wild life being preserved within the park.  While your dog may be well trained and responsive to recall commands, they might not be able to fight their natural instincts to chase wild animals. This paired with the scent of the dog and their barking scares the native species within the forest making them feel threatened to explore their home turf.

Predatory animals within the park can be a threat to your pets.  Animals of prey such as bears and coyotes may decide that your furry friend looks like the perfect snack. This puts you and your pet at risk, the bear or coyote may unfortunately be put down for hunting in its own forest.

Lastly, ‘it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch’ as they say. What do we mean by this? Most of you have well trained dogs, but it only takes one poorly trained dog to be let lose and find itself in a sticky situation. Its important to follow the rules of the park, to preserve the natural beauty of these special lands and to ensure a safe and happy experience for everyone within them.

6 of the most dog friendly national parks in america, pet friendly dog locations

 

How did we rank the parks?

We ranked parks based on how much of the park is accessible by pets. So you may be surprised! Tell us what you think of our 6 most dog friendly US national parks list in the comments below.

 

 

1. Petrified Forest National Park

Located within Navajo and Apache counties in northern Arizona, Petrified Forest National Park is one of the most dog friendly national parks in the country. Encompassing about 230 square miles, it’s named for its large deposits of petrified wood.  Home to semi-desert shrub steppe and colorful badlands, this park is the desert dogs oasis.

6 most dog friendly national parks Petrified forest national park

Run wild and free at this dog friendly national park. Pets are allowed at all outdoor areas, including all hiking trails, backcountry, picnic areas and campgrounds.  Please remember to keep your dogs on their leashes at all times.  Your dogs aren’t allowed inside buildings unless they’re a service animal.

Petrified Forest National Park visited by @woofwagwander

Petrified Forest National Park visited by @woofwagwander

 

More information about this park and neighboring locations:

 

 

2. Congaree National Park

Located in central South Carolina, the park is over 26 thousand acres of puppy-play-land!  Lush trees preserving old growth and a stunning canopy has created one of the highest temperate deciduous forests remaining in the world.

6 most dog friendly national parks Congaree national park

Dogs are allowed on all trails including the boardwalks! They can also roam with you while enjoying picnic areas and campgrounds. Please remember to keep your dogs on their leashes at all times.  Your dogs aren’t allowed inside buildings unless they’re a service animal.

6 most dog friendly congaree national parks

Congaree National Park visited by @thewilderminds

 

More information about this park and neighboring locations:

 

 

3. Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park is another completely dog friendly park. Located in the state of Arkansas, the park is adjacent to the city of Hot Springs.  Unique for being preserved before the concept of a national park, way back in 1832.  Also special for its hot springs, thought to have medicinal properties and the subject of legend among Native American Tribes.

6 most dog friendly national parks hot springs national park

Again, this is one of the most dog friendly national parks in America. Dogs are allowed on all hiking trails within Hot Springs National Park. They are also allowed in other outdoor areas such as picnic sites and campgrounds. Please remember to keep your dogs on their leashes at all times.  Your dogs aren’t allowed inside buildings unless they’re a service animal.

6 most dog friendly national parks hot springs national park

Hot Springs National Park visited by @river_the_irish_setter

 

More information about this park and neighboring locations:

 

 

4. Shenandoah National Park

This national park is long and narrow, with rolling Virginia hills on the east and the Shenandoah River and Valley on the west. Skyline Drive being the most prominent feature with vast views of the eastern countryside.  This park comes in at number 4 being it boasts over 400 miles of dog friendly trails.

6 most dog friendly national parks shenandoah national park

You and your dogs are allowed on over 400 miles of trails within the park. There are a handful of trails that you cannot access with your dog but it is less than 20 miles combined.  So feel free to roam and explore this spectacularly protected area of the east coast with your furry family. Please remember to keep your dogs on their leashes at all times.  Your dogs aren’t allowed inside buildings unless they’re a service animal.

6 most dog friendly national parks shenandoah national park

Shenandoah National Park visited by @samanthabrookephoto

 

More information about this park and neighboring locations:

 

 

5. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Sitting at the top of Ohio, situated in the middle of two major cities, Cleveland and Akron, its hard to believe that this lush oasis exists. In preservation since 1974, it has only been a national park since 2000.

6 most dog friendly national parks cuyahoga valley national park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is known for being extremely dog friendly. Offering over 130 miles of dog friendly trails, picnic areas and campsites, you won’t have a problem exploring this natural wonder with your four legged family members. Please remember to keep your dogs on their leashes at all times.  Your dogs aren’t allowed inside buildings unless they’re a service animal.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park visited by @brindlelovesmerle

Cuyahoga Valley National Park visited by @brindlelovesmerle

 

More information about this park and neighboring locations:

 

 

6. Acadia National Park

Located in the state of Maine, Acadia is the oldest designated national park east of the Mississippi River. This area has a vast amount of stunning views, ocean and old growth to marvel at with your best friend.

6 most dog friendly national parksmAcadia National Park

This is often known to be one of the most, if not the most dog friendly national park in the country, but from what you’ll see from the list above, it ranks sixth! Offering just over 100 miles of dog friendly trails, you can explore til your hearts content. Please remember to keep your dogs on their leashes at all times.  Your dogs aren’t allowed inside buildings unless they’re a service animal.

 Acadia National Park visited by @zerothewhitehusky

Acadia National Park visited by @zerothewhitehusky

 

More information about this park and neighboring locations:

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Yosemite national park dog friendly pet friendly information

 

 

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