National Parks have been called America’s Best Idea, but they’ve got an unfortunate reputation as not always the friendliest places to bring man’s best friend. Still, with an annual attendance exceeding some 305 million human visitors, dog owners could be forgiven for wanting to run with the pack and enjoy the multitude of natural experiences the National Park Service has to offer. We’ve rounded up details on six popular National Parks where your four-footed friends are welcome to join you.
Olympic National Park, WA
Dogs on leashes no longer than six feet are welcome to enjoy the campgrounds and picnic areas throughout gorgeous Olympic National Park. The most challenging of these is the 20-mile Spruce Railroad Trail, an out-and-back style hike along Lake Crescent. Peabody Creek Trail is just under five miles of out-and-back trail that follows and crosses the creek via log bridges that are sturdier than they look. Madison Falls Trail, on the other hand, is an easy tenth of a mile with a paved walk-in to a lovely little waterfall. Water-loving pups can enjoy the southern oceanfront beaches between the Hoh and Quinault Indian Reservations, as long as you’re mindful of the tide, and along the half-mile stretch between Rialto Beach and Ellen Creek during daylight hours.
Acadia National Park, ME
First things first: watch this adorable video featuring doggo Bark Ranger Drift, who’s more than happy to teach humans the best things about being a dog in a National Park. As Drift points out, you’ll want to keep your pets leashed (six feet maximum) to decrease their chances of an unfortunate encounter with local wildlife. You’re welcome to hike with them on any of the park’s 140+ miles of trails and carriage roads that aren’t specifically restricted or recommended for the four-legged companions, including hikes that rely on ladders, such as the 3.3‑mile Ladder Trail Loop. Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds all welcome pets, so you can overnight in the park with your bestie.
Glacier National Park, MT
Like the other National Parks on this list, Glacier welcomes wagging tails basically anywhere you can bring a car: in developed areas including its twelve front country campgrounds, along roads, in parking lots, and its numerous established picnic sites. What makes Glacier stand out from the pack is that it also permits dogs on boats in lakes—so if your boat can go, your pooch can too! Once you’ve got your boat launch permit, take your pick of the public launches available at McDonald Lake, Bowman Lake, Saint Mary Lake, or Two Medicine Lake. The risk of hypothermia from these glacial lakes (and park regulations) means dogs can’t get in the water, though.
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Every dog loves a good hole in the ground, so why not treat your dog to the best hole in the ground? The Grand Canyon is a true miracle of nature, and the South Rim offers loads of opportunities for you and your pup to explore together. Mather Campground to the west and Desert View Campground to the east both permit pets. You can take them hiking on lead on any of the named trails above the rim, including the majestic 12.8‑mile Rim Trail that skirts the canyon’s rim from Hermit’s Rest to the South Kaibab Trailhead.
Note: there are many other parks (state & national) that allow dogs, some with stricter rules, so be sure to check out the National Park Service site for updated lists on guidelines.