It’s a question that many dog owners have asked themselves: Why aren’t dogs allowed in national parks? There are a few different reasons for this, and we will go over them in this blog post. Dogs can be a nuisance to other park visitors and can cause damage to the park itself. If you’re wondering why your furry friend isn’t allowed on your next camping trip, read on!
Dogs Can Bother Wildlife
Dogs have been known to chase after wildlife, and even if they are well mannered, and leashed, the presence of a dog can impact the behavior of other animals nearby. Dogs leave scent behind that can be detected for long time periods that may affect the behavior of wildlife.
Dogs Can Damage The Ecosystem & Fauna
Another reason why dogs are not allowed in national parks is that they can damage the delicate ecosystem within these spaces. Dogs may dig up plants, trample over fragile vegetation, or chase after small animals. They may also bring harmful bacteria into the park, which can spread disease and contaminate water sources. This can damage natural habitats and impact the biodiversity of the park in a negative way.
Dogs Can Bother People
Another reason why dogs aren’t allowed in national parks is that they can be a nuisance to other park visitors. Dogs are often loud, energetic, and unpredictable, which makes them a source of stress for many people.
Dogs Increase The Amount Of Rescues
Search And Rescue teams have to rescue lost, injured, or sick dogs every single year. This adds expense and risk to SAR teams, and many national parks don’t want to add this level of risk or cost.
For these reasons, most national parks do not allow dogs within their boundaries. If you are planning to visit a national park with your dog, it’s important to check ahead of time and make sure that your pet is welcome in the area. By doing so, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for yourself and your canine companion.
Trail Etiquette With Dogs
The National Park Service has some Principles that can be remembered through the acronym of B.A.R.K.
- Bag your pet’s waste
- Always leash your pet
- Respect wildlife
- Know where you can go
Those principles can be read about in greater detail here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/pets/be-a-bark-ranger.htm
You may also get a lot of value our ot this article on the 10 commandments of hiking with dogs.
Pet Friendly National Parks
There are a few national parks that we wanted to call out as being relatively pet friendly for allowing pets, or specific sections of the park that allow pets.
Please make sure you read up on current regulations before entering any of these parks, as they can change.
Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah has 96% of the parks trails accessible to pets. Pets are also allowed in campgrounds. This is probably the most pet friendly park in the country.
Acadia National Park
Acadia has over 100 miles of trails where pets are allowed, and 45 miles of roads where leashed pets can join as well. Pets are also allowed at several campgrounds. This makes Acadia one of the most pet friendly national park.
North Cascades National Park
This park only allows dogs on the Pacific Crest Trail. This can be a great option for those through hikers.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
This park has over 110 miles of hiking trails in the park.
Yosemite National Park
In Yosemite, dogs are allowed on fully paved roads, sidewalks, bike paths, and even some of the campgrounds.
Mammoth Cave National Park
While pets are not allowed in the caves, they are welcome on the above ground trails. Most interestingly, Mammoth has the Mammoth Cave Kennels that allow owners to store dogs during day or overnight adventures.
Grand Canyon National Park
Pets are allowed above the rim o the Grand Canyon, which leaves tons of fantastic hiking with amazing views.
Other National Parks
Most national parks allow dogs on roads and within developed campgrounds. Be sure to consult the local regulations.
If you are a dog owner, most national parks are not the best destination. It can sometimes be difficult to find hiking trails that allow dogs, but with a quick google search for most locations, you should easily be able to find pet friendly and stunning local trails.
Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about