Top 5 Dog-Friendly National Parks

 

From the coast of Maine, to the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ohio, Arkansas, and the Gulf of Mexico, we've found some of the best. 

By Taylor Ritz

Traveling with a dog can be a rewarding yet challenging experience. If you’re planning a trip through a national park, you must consider the many rules and regulations regarding where your pet may and may not go. Finding a national park you can visit with your pooch can be quite tricky.

That being said, there are a few national parks that are a bit more dog-friendly than the rest. Luckily for you, we’ve gathered them all here. Let the road-trip planning begin!

Note: Unless otherwise posted, assume that dogs must be leashed at all times on a leash 6 feet or shorter and always clean up after your pet. Bring extra water and treats for your best friend in the lightweight Evolution Convertible Backback.

 


Acadia National Park

250 miles from the nearest big city, Acadia is comprised of hundreds of miles of hiking trails, lowland paths, and mountain climbs on the coast of Maine. The scenery ranges from mountain summits to beach shores. If driving is more your style, there is a 27-mile long scenic loop that offers incredible vistas and overlooks. 

Where Dogs Can Go
Acadia National Park allows dogs on almost all 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads located within the park boundaries. The few trails dogs are not permitted on require climbing up iron rungs and ladders that would be difficult to impossible for a dog to traverse without being carried. 

Dogs can jump on the free shuttles that take you around the park, an option many national parks do not offer for dogs. 

Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds all allow pets. There is even an off-leash area at Little Long Pond, which is adjacent to the park itself.

Where Dogs Can’t Go
Dogs are allowed in almost all public areas of Acadia National Park. Exceptions are Duck Harbor Campground and Wild Gardens of Acadia, as well as Echo Lake Beach and Sand Beach during the peak season of mid-May to mid-September. Pets are also not allowed in public buildings and must be kept leashed at all times.

 

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located along the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio. The river traverses deep forests, open farmlands, and rolling hills, providing a refuge for all types of wildlife. 

Where Dogs Can Go
Dogs are welcome in the park along all 125 miles of trails. The trails offer passage through wetlands, woodlands, and even oil fields. Some trails require stream crossings utilizing log bridges or stepping stones, but the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath is completely flat and accessible to all. 

 

Hot Springs National Park Arkansas

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National park, in Arkansas, is comprised of 47 protected hot springs that have been enjoyed by humans for over 200 years. The park was designated by Congress in 1832, making this location the oldest area in the National Park System. 

Where Dogs Can Go
Leashed dogs are permitted in the park on leashes no longer than 6 feet. They may accompany you on a walk down Bathhouse Row, the Grand Promenade, and the other 26 miles of interconnected trails nearby. 

Where Dogs Can’t Go
Pets are not permitted in public buildings.

 

Padre Island National Seashore

The Padre Island National Seashore is located in southern Texas along the Gulf of Mexico, where its designation protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, tidal pools, and prairies. Padre Island is the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world, protecting a large and diverse population of threatened and endangered species of wildlife.

Where Dogs Can Go
Leashed pets are welcome everywhere in the park, including its 60+ miles of beachfront.

 


Shenandoah National Park

Where Dogs Can Go
Of the 500 miles of trails in Shenandoah National Park, only 20 of them are off-limits to dogs. These off-limit trails contain rock climbs or difficult passages that would challenge even the most in-shape pooch. Dogs are also allowed in all of the campgrounds. Your furbabies must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.

Where Dogs Can’t Go
Pets are not permitted inside buildings or on a 20-mile section of particularly difficult trail.

 

Traveling With Your Dog

No matter what national park you choose, exploring with your dog is an incredibly fulfilling experience; there’s nothing quite like a road trip through the eyes of a canine. Their joy and excitement for life are contagious, and no matter where you choose to roam, the memories you make will be irreplaceable. 

Photos: Ryan Stone, Niagara66, Andrew Pons, Samuel Thompson