Are Dogs Allowed in National Parks?

Jun 24, 2023

A man and his dog in a national park

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Lace up your hiking boots because it’s time to visit America’s greatest outdoor adventure: national parks. What about Fido? Are dogs allowed in national parks? Many love bringing their dogs outdoors and playing on the trails and ponds. Dogs need exercise, too! Here’s a guide on national parks and where you can bring man’s best friends.

Are Dogs Allowed in National Parks?

Yes, dogs are allowed in most national parks across the U.S. states and territories. There are only a handful of parks where dogs are not allowed inside. For example, look at the Channel Islands National Park just off the coast of Los Angeles. You can’t bring your pups to this park because experts fear foxes on the island have contracted diseases from outside animals. 

Another popular park where dogs aren’t permitted is Arches National Park. You can bring your dog in the car or the campground — but you can’t bring Fido on any hiking trails or off-trail areas.

Dog in a park

Where Are You Allowed to Take Dogs in National Parks?

Many parks are strict about where you can and can’t bring dogs. They do this for your, the dog’s and the wildlife’s safety. Let’s visit eight national parks and discuss where you can take your dogs. 

1. Grand Canyon National Park

Let’s head west and soak in Grand Canyon National Park. This park provides jaw-dropping levels of beauty with the Grand Canyon. It’s over a mile deep with views of the Colorado River. The park was a favorite of President Theodore Roosevelt and many others.

You can bring your dogs to the park, but they must always be on a leash. The National Park Service (NPS) says you cannot take your dog below the canyon rim due to dangerous terrain. The trails are narrow and steep, and dog reactions to wildlife can be unpredictable. 

2. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone is one of America’s most famous national parks. In fact, the federal government enacted legislation in 1872 to give Yellowstone protection as a national park. Today, thousands of visitors flock to Yellowstone to see the beautiful geysers and other sites. 

You can bring your dog, but there are restrictions. For example, your dog must be within 100 feet of the road or campground. You can’t bring dogs to Old Faithful, the trails or the backcountry. Yellowstone has plentiful wildlife like wolves and buffalo. The last thing you want is to put your best friend in danger. 

3. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of America’s best places for biology lovers. You can see giant sequoia trees, glaciers, meadows and waterfalls. America has incredible biodiversity, and it’s on display here. Luckily, you can bring your dog to this storied park.  

Yosemite is one of the most dog-friendly national parks in the country. You can bring your dogs on fully paved roads and biking paths if they’re on a leash. If visitors are allowed, so are the dogs. Bring the pups anywhere except the walk-in campgrounds. 

4. Zion National Park

In Southwest Utah, you’ll find Zion National Park. The pictures you see here look like somebody painted them because of how beautiful they are. Like Yosemite, you can find different ecosystems here, such as deserts, woodlands, coniferous forests and riparian zones. 

You can bring the dogs to Zion National Park, but they can only go on one trail: the Pa’Rus Trail. Conveniently, the trail starts at the visitor center. Besides Pa’Rus, dogs can’t go on the trails because they risk scaring wildlife. You can bring the dogs to campgrounds and paved overlooks. 

5. Shenandoah National Park

Let’s head east to Shenandoah National Park. This beautiful park is only 75 miles west of our nation’s capital. It’s in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, comprising about 100 miles of the mountain range. Take a trip to D.C. to soak in the history and hike in Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah is a terrific park for taking your dogs. There are 500 miles of hiking trails, and your dogs can access over 90%. In fact, there are only 20 miles you can’t bring the pups. Like the other parks, you must always have them on leashes.

6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Not far south of Shenandoah is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park encompasses the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Great Smoky Mountains — both in the Appalachian Mountain range. Data show nearly 13 million people visited the park in 2022 — by far the most popular in the country.  

Dogs are allowed in the park — but only on two trails. You can take the pups on the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Both paths offer gorgeous views of the park and are dog-friendly with flat paths. 

7. Acadia National Park

Another popular location on the East Coast is Acadia National Park in Maine. Go in the fall to see the leaves change colors for terrific views. It’s one of the few parks where you can trek to outlying islands. Acadia is a special park because it became the first national park east of the Mississippi River in 1919.

Dogs can also take in the views with some limitations. Acadia National Park has 100 miles of trails you can walk on, and 45 miles are available for dogs. Take the pups to campgrounds like Blackwoods, Seawall and Schoodic Woods. You can also bring them to Isle a Haut for day hiking.

8. Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park is notable for a few reasons. First, it’s technically the first national park. In 1832, Hot Springs became the first land set aside by Congress for recreational use. Also, former President Bill Clinton was born in 1946 in the city of Hot Springs. The park has hot springs, views of the Ouachita Mountains and other beautiful sites.

Hot Springs is unique because it’s one of the few national parks dogs are allowed everywhere. The park features 26 miles of hiking trails — all of which you can bring Fido. You can’t bring dogs inside the bathhouse or any park buildings, but the outside is free to roam for the pups. Hot Springs is a terrific place to take your labrador retrievers and border collies to keep them active.

Are Dogs Allowed in National Parks? Yes, With Limitations

America has beautiful national parks nationwide. Thankfully, dogs are allowed in most national parks. There are some exceptions, like Channel Islands National Park. However, some parks, like Hot Springs National Park, are dog-friendly and terrific for taking your pups. 

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.