Traveling to any of the USA’s 62 National Parks is an incredible way to see the most well-preserved natural beauty the country has to offer. Sweeping landscapes and deserted trails make for a deeply peaceful connection with nature.
You might be all set to go on your National Park adventure, but what about your pet?
The good news is that National Parks usually allow pets to enter in some capacity, but there are varying rules for each protected area. You can read up on all of them here.
General advice for bringing your pet to a National Park
National Parks generally welcome pets into developed areas of the park. These might include walking trails, campsites and pet-friendly lodging facilities. So, if you want to take your dog on a special hike, this should be just fine. If you want to bring your cat to stay with you in a lodge, you might be able to do this!
There are some more important things to keep in mind when taking your pet to a National Park:
Be sure to check the regulations for the specific trail you wish to explore, to be positive that your pet will be allowed on the trail with you. Some parks allow pets on a leash, while others don’t allow pets on trails at all.
While on the subject of leashes, always bring your pet’s leash with you. This is an important requirement for the Park Service as this helps adhere to the safety of your pet companions as well as the resident wildlife whose homes you’ll be visiting.
Please be careful not to leave behind toys or pet supplies. Damaged/used toys, bowls, leashes, blankets, etc. very much classify as litter and are strictly prohibited. While mesmerized by a place of such outstanding natural beauty, don’t forget to be a responsible pet owner and take home any material entertainment you bring along.
Carry a sealable bag like a backpack for your pet’s essentials. Hiking a National Park trail may be a much longer walk than your pet is used to, so always bring water, food and plenty of doggy bags with you. Remember to keep food concealed in your pack anytime your pet is not having a meal.
Rules for 3 National Parks
To give you an idea of some of the different standards, here are the pet rules for a few select National Parks:
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. This park is extremely welcoming to pets, with an entire 115 miles of Appalachian trail accessible to them. Dogs are also allowed in all campgrounds and pullouts along the Skyline Drive - great for an RV trip.
Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Pets are allowed in Yellowstone, but must be kept within 100 feet of roads, parking areas and campgrounds. They must be on a leash no longer than six-feet long and are not allowed on hiking trails.
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. Another pet-friendly park - pets are permitted on all park trails, roads and wilderness areas. However, they must be kept on a six-foot leash. They should also be kept out of certain buildings.
Written by Jack Vale