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6 Dog Friendly National Parks You Can't Miss This Summer

6 Dog Friendly National Parks You Can't Miss This Summer

You’ve taken you and your furry friend on numerous walks around the park, but what about doing something a little more adventurous? It’s time to take an epic walk or hike in some of America’s most exciting and beautiful National Parks!

Every year, thousands of visitors eagerly journey to the National Parks hoping to explore, hike, and camp with their best furry friends. What many don’t know before arriving is many U.S. National Parks have rules when it comes to where pets can and can’t go. This is all to protect wildlife, the land, and other visitors. So, before you venture out with your pup- be sure you know the rules and regulations to follow!

As you research which parks look most exciting to visit this summer, here’s a roundup of some of the most dog friendly National Parks in the United States. From pet friendly trails and campgrounds to fun activities you can do together, you’ll find there’s something exciting waiting for you in each park.

A Few Universal Rules to Remember

While these are dog friendly parks, there are some simple guidelines to follow no matter where you end up traveling to:

  • Keep your pup on a 6-foot (or shorter) leash.
  • Bagging and properly disposing of your dog’s you know what is a must
  • Don’t leave your dog unattended in your vehicle.
  • Expect that dogs are not allowed in buildings or shuttles unless stated otherwise.

By following these easy rules, you can count on having a fun trip with no hiccups!

  1. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado

Dune-loving dogs have a blast tearing up the sandy hills at this Colorado destination (which are the tallest in the country). Pups are permitted on the dunes up to the first high ridge, giving them miles of off-trail exploring. They’re also welcome in the Preserve, park main areas, and in Piñon Falls Campground.

Located near the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the sand dunes serve as a centerpiece to a super diverse landscape of forests, alpine lakes, grasslands, and tundra. Throughout the park there’s lots of trail options you both can enjoy, whether you’re looking for an easy stroll or a more challenging trek.

Start your day off with a stunning sunrise following a 2.5-mile climb to the top of High Dune. From there you can head to the Dunes Overlook Trail, before you cool off in the Medano Creek.

Keep in mind the sand can get very hot in the afternoons — up to 150º F. Bring along protective booties, a cooling vest, doggy goggles, and extra water to keep them safe, comfortable and hydrated.

Bonus stop: Zapata Falls features The Dog Bar Restaurant that’s perfect for a lunch break on their deck! You might even catch some live music.

Learn more about dog friendly fun at Dunes National Park >

  1. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky

Since 1941, Mammoth Cave National Park has protected the longest known cave system in the world. With 412 miles of cave passages, you’ll have a ton of underground exploring to do.

Keep in mind for this trip, your pup has to stay above ground when you visit the caves or cave buildings.

When you go for a cave tour, Mammoth Cave Lodge runs a kennel for your pup to relax and recharge. And after you’ve explored the caves, there are over 80 miles of hiking trails through scenic river valleys, rolling hills, and rocky outcroppings for you to take your pup through.

If you’re limited on time, be sure to check out the area around the Mammoth Cave Visitor Center. Trails like the White Cave Trail and Sinkhole trail provide some picturesque views while not being too challenging.

But if you do plan to stay overnight, the park’s Woodland Cottages have pet friendly rooms or you can set at their dog friendly campground.

Learn more about dog friendly activities in Mammoth Cave >

  1. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Of the National Parks that allow dogs, Shenandoah National Park is a must-stop. Boasting over 500 miles of hiking trails, only 20 of them don’t allow dogs.

This means the 115 miles of Applacahian Trail that run through the park are fair game for you and your pup. Another dog friendly trail that can’t be missed is the Rose River Loop. The trail takes you to streams and waterfalls you can cool off in on a hot day. Don’t forget the camera, either!

While you’re visiting be sure you take time to cruise down the famous 105-mile Skyline Drive. It’s perfect for rolling the windows down and letting your pup feel the wind on their face.

While your dog is allowed on all campgrounds in Shenadoah Park, they also provide lodging options like Skyland Lodge or Big Meadow Lodge that are pet friendly.

Explore and stay at Shenadoah National Park >

  1. Yosemite National Park, California

Best known for its waterfalls, giant sequoias, and historic granite rocks, Yosemite National Park is a favorite destination for parks that allow dogs. While dogs aren’t allowed on most of the park’s trails, you can still enjoy all of the sights (and smells) without ever having to step foot on a pathway.

When visiting Yosemite Park, you’ll want to head to Yosemite Valley for most of your visit. You’ll find many of the park’s top attractions including Tunnel View Outlook, some of Yosemite’s famous waterfalls, and granite monoliths like El Capitan. You’ll especially catch some beautiful views of the water on Yosemite Falls Trail, which is dog friendly.

Doggos and their humans should stay at AutoCamp, which offers some amazing amenities like a clubhouse, swimming pool, general store, and pet friendly rooms. You’ll wake up everyday to stunning sights of the park while enjoying a little extra comfort!

Adventure through Yosemite Park and relax in comfort >

  1. Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia Park is of the most dog friendly National Parks you’ll travel to. The only trails pups aren’t allowed on are those that require the use of ladders. This leaves 100 miles of trails for you both to explore.

You can also bring your travel buddy with you into most public areas and on the free Island Explorer Bus that runs throughout the park and around the island. The park also provides plenty of dog friendly accommodations and restaurants and shops you can visit with your dog.

Visiting in the summer, you’ll have to check out the Little Log Pond, which allows dogs to roam without their leashes and swim in the water. There are also trails to walk along around the area and meadows for them to romp around in.

Your dog can even become a BARK Ranger at Acadia, certifying them (and you) as responsible park visitors!

Learn more about activities with your dog at Acadia National Park >

  1. Congaree National Park, South Carolina

Congaree National Park is a summer dream destination for dogs in National Parks. Your dog is allowed to join you everywhere in the park, with exception of the buildings.

Spanning over 26,000 acres, the park is known for is amazing biodiversity — it protects the largest and last remaining stretch of bottomland hardwood forest in the southeastern United States. You’ll appreciate that these are some of the tallest trees in the country, but what your dog will love the most are the water activities they can enjoy!

After you take them on walks throughout the trails and across the boardwalks, book yourselves a kayaking or canoe trip down the Congaree and Wateree Rivers. If you don’t feel comfortable handling the boat on your own, you can always book a guided tour of the rivers.

You’ll also easily find pet friendly accommodations or you can set up camp right there in the park for a little extra adventure.

Explore land and water in Congaree National Park >


Prepare for a Summer Full of Adventure With Your Pup

Now that you’ve got your line up of exciting summer destinations, you need to be sure you’re ready to hit the road to your favorite dog friendly National Parks!

Whether you’re staying in a hotel or pitching a tent at a campground, there’s plenty of dog gear and camping accessories you’ll want to bring along. While visiting National Parks that allow dogs is super exciting, you need to keep their safety and comfort in mind.

Check out OllyDog’s latest and best gear for exploring with your dog so you’re both ready to take on whatever your next adventure has in store for you!

Gear up for your next great trip with your pup >

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