Top 8 Dog-Friendly National Parks

It’s never fun to have to leave man’s best friend at home on a hiking, camping or backpacking trip, but frankly, there are some places that just aren’t safe for your furry friends—or your pup might pose too much of a threat to the natural environment. When in doubt, here are the 8 most dog-friendly national parks, perfect for taking your pet:

Grand Canyon National Park
Mules go to bottom of the Grand Canyon, so why not let Fido enjoy the awesome scenery of this national park? Just note that dogs are required to be leashed at all times in this park, but he’s allowed on all trails above the rim, Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, Trailer Village and in developed areas. Pets are not permitted, however, in park hotel rooms, park buses or below the rim. If you want to head down, the North Kaibab Trail is the way to go. There are lots of stops so you and your dog can keep cool and rest.

Acadia National Park
Enjoy 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads with your dog, so long as he’s on a leash no longer than six feet. You can camp with your pet at Blackwoods and Seawall Campgrounds and you can hike (during the day only) on Isle au Haut. Just don’t take your dog to the any of the swimming beaches, where they’re not allowed, and all will be well.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park is easily one of the most dog-friendly of the parks. Pups are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas and along roads—so long as you keep them on a leash less than six feet in length. If your dog is a hiker, you can take him on two short trails, the Gatlinburg and the Oconaluftee River Trail.

Shenandoah National Park
At Shenandoah National Park, you’ll find over 500 miles of trail, and only 20 of the trails are off-limits to pets. So you and your pooch will have plenty of places to explore and plenty of activities to partake in, like camping in the backcountry, hiking, bird watching and checking out the scenery.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Dogs are welcome to run, play, dig and more at Great Sand Dunes National Park, which is completely pet-friendly so you can explore the entire area with your furry best friend. Check out Medano Creek and be sure not to miss the High Dune. Just keep your dog on a leash, since wildlife is abundant.

Olympic National Park
You can take Fido with you to the campgrounds, picnic areas and a couple of the ocean beaches (Rialto Beach and Kalaloch Beach) when you visit Olympic National Park in Washington. Just be sure to keep him leashed (less than six feet) and off of the hiking trails.

Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone is just too beautiful to miss, even though it does have strict pet regulations. That said, you can take your dog to the front areas of the park, which means anywhere within a 100 feet of roads, parking areas and campgrounds, so long as he’s leashed.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Though this isn’t as far out in the wilderness as some of the other parks, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park has plenty of miles of trail perfectly open to pets. Check out the 20-mile Towpath Trail, full of meadows and forests your dog will love, and be sure not to miss the Tinkers Creek Gorge, a National Natural Landmark known for its hemlock forests.

By Sarah Esterman