I always feel guilty leaving my dogs home when visiting National Parks, but many National Parks have strict limitations on where dogs are allowed to go. Usually it is mostly just paved trails, and around campgrounds. However, there are some dog friendly National Parks that are more welcoming. Here are 4 super dog friendly National Parks that you should visit with your dog.
Visiting Colorado and looking to visit a dog friendly National Park? Try checking out Great Sand Dunes National Park. This park is a hidden gem, and will help you escape from some of the bigger National Parks in Colorado that overshadow it.
Not only is it less crowded, but it is super dog friendly! Your dog is allowed to come into the sand dunes, as there are really no “hiking trails”. You are allowed to walk freely throughout the area with your dog.
I would avoid visiting star-dune just because it is so busy and the path can get very narrow. I did witness a dog pull their owner down the side of the dune, which I thought was kind of commercial but I am sure the owner didn’t (no one was hurt).
If you’re interested in camping with your dog it is also a great place to take them backcountry. Just be prepared for the possibility of quick changing weather.
White Sand Dunes National Park
Another National Park with some great sand dunes to visit with your dog is White Sand Dunes National Park located in New Mexico. A newer edition to the list of National Parks, and off the beaten path makes it a great place to take your dog.
As long as your dog is on a leash (shorter than 6 feet) they are welcome to explore the sand dunes with you. If your dog hasn’t visited sand before, it can make for a great time watching them react. If you do bring your dog make sure that they have plenty of water (don’t forget to keep yourself hydrated as well), and do not leave them in the car. Temperatures can get very hot, very fast.
This is also a great National Park to visit in the Winter.
Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park is located in Arizona, and while dogs are not allowed in the buildings such as the visitor center they can still have a great time. You probably wouldn’t believe it now, but this area used to be a rainforest. Over time the wood crystalized into quartz gives the park the array of colors you see today.
As long as your dog is leashed they are allowed on all of the hiking trails and in the backcountry! There are plenty of short hikes that you can take your dog on and backcountry is perfect for a weekend getaway. In the summer months it can get hot, so make sure to take that into consideration when planning a trip.
Petrified Forest National Park even goes as far as having a BARK ranger! This handy acronym will help you remember all of the rules for having a dog in the park. Bag your pet’s poop, always keep your pet on a leash, respect wildlife, and know where to go. You can also buy a BARK Ranger pet tag at the visitor center.
Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park located in Maine is one of the few national parks that have forested woodlands that allow dogs to visit. The park boasts over 100 miles of hiking trails that are to be explored. I would highly suggest planning your trip in advance and if you’re visiting with a dog avoid holiday weekends because it is on the top 10 list of most visited National Parks.
However, Acadia National Park does not let dogs on all trails. The official National Park website has some really good information on where they are allowed, not allowed, and not recommended.
There are numerous National Parks to visit this winter, and this list is just a few of my favorite options. No matter where you are located you can find somewhere nearby to explore. Just because it might be snowing, or a bit chilly doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.
So if you’re thinking about visiting a National Park this winter, you should probably book that trip soon to avoid any delays in travel.