The Best Dog-Friendly National Parks in America
Is there any better way to spend a day than exploring some of the country’s most beautiful national parks with your four-legged sidekick? From beaches to mountains, these dog-friendly national parks have something for everyone.
Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado
This national park is best known for their towering sand dunes, but the Great Sand Dunes National Park boasts a diverse landscape. From aspen forests and alpine lakes to grasslands and tundra, there’s no shortage of scenery for you and your pup to explore. Pets are permitted in the ‘Preserve’ as well as the main areas of the park, such as the Dunes Overlook Trail, as long as they are leashed. And if you’re hot from your hike, Medano Creek is the perfect place for you both to cool down.
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
With 200,000 acres of protected land, there’s no shortage of space in Shenandoah National Park. What makes this park special is the fact that pets are allowed on nearly all of the 500 miles of trails. In fact, there’s only 20 miles where pets are not allowed and that is only because these areas require rock climbing and other difficult passages. The only requirement is that dogs must be leashed while on any of the trails, ensuring both the local wildlife and your pup stay safe.
Padre Island National Seashore in Texas
Spanning 70 miles of coastline, you will find pristine beaches, dunes, and tidal pools at Padre Island National Seashore. This park acts as a barrier between the Gulf of Mexico and the Laguna Madre, one of the world’s only hypersaline (salt rich) lagoons. In this lagoon and along the coastline you can see a variety of wildlife including Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles and more than 380 species of birds; due to this, a strict leash policy is enforced. If you and your pup love some time in the ocean, you will be pleased to know that the park’s 60 miles of beaches are completely dog friendly.
Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona
Best known for the colorful petrified wood that gave the park its name, the Petrified Forest National Park is a great option for owners looking to hike with their dog. Two of the parks highlights are the Rainbow Forest and badlands, both of which display a kaleidoscope of color that you won’t want to miss. Unlike many other parks, dogs are even allowed in the backcountry areas meaning you don’t have to stick to the main paths.
Acadia National Park in Maine
Expansive woodland, rocky beaches, and skyscraping mountain peaks are just some of the wonders you’ll find at Acadia National Park. You and your pup will be able to see a great sample of these different landscapes, as dogs have access to 100 miles of maintained hiking trails as well as an additional 45 miles of carriages roads. If neither of you are afraid of heights, don’t miss your chance to climb to the top of Cadillac Mountain. Reaching a staggering 1,530 feet at its peak, it offers some of the best views the park has to offer.
Whether this is your first hike or you and your pup are seasoned experts, be sure to review our list of must-bring hiking items. Being well prepared will ensure that your park adventure is nothing but a memorable experience.