Pet owners know that it can be difficult to find a camping destination that allows you to bring your furry friends. Most national parks prohibit dogs in wilderness areas because of the risk they pose to wildlife and plant life. Many parks keep pets confined to paved parking lots and small campgrounds.
But, if you want to bring your pets with you to explore the great outdoors, don’t give up hope yet. Here are four national parks that allow dogs on hiking trails and in campgrounds
Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona
Of course the Grand Canyon tops the list because, well, it’s the Grand Canyon! The breathtaking gorge is 277 miles long and averages one mile deep and 10 miles wide.
Dogs in the park are allowed on trails above the rim, but not below. The South Rim Trail is 13 miles long, and leashed pets are welcome along its entirety. Pets are also allowed in several campgrounds and throughout the developed areas. Be sure to keep Spot on his leash at all times, per the park’s rules.
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
Shenandoah National Park, with its many waterfalls and picturesque views, lies along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. It has over 500 miles of marked hiking trails and all but 20 of them are open to pets, as are all of its campgrounds.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio
Cuyahoga Valley National Park, at more than 20,000 acres, is scattered with waterfalls, rivers and caves that would satisfy any adventure seeker.
Additionally, it is another U.S. national park that allows dogs on its trails. Leashed pets are permitted on over 110 miles of trails throughout the park and in the Stanford Campground.
Yosemite National Park in California
Yosemite National Park, on the western side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Northern California, is most commonly known for its giant sequoia groves and granite cliffs.
Only one trail in the park — the Wawona Meadow Loop — is open to dogs, but your pets are permitted on roads, sidewalks and bike paths. Dogs on leashes are also permitted in all of the campgrounds.
A FEW TIPS BEFORE YOU GO:
Do not take your dog on a trail that he cannot handle. Remember that, just like you, he will get tired, thirsty and hungry. Make sure to plan accordingly. Also remember that, unlike you, your dog does not have hiking boots. Avoid trails that might hurt his puppy paws.
Leashes are required at all of these national parks. For your pet’s safety, avoid breaking this rule. Keeping your dog close to you is the best way to minimize exposure to ticks and poison ivy.
Always make sure your dog’s shots are up to date.
Make sure your dog has proper flea and tick protection. Before your trip, you might want to ask your vet if he recommends the Lyme disease vaccination. (If you’re concerned about cost, read up on recent pet insurance reviews to see which ones cover the treatments your dog needs.) While hiking or camping, check your dog frequently for ticks and, if you find one, remove it immediately.
Make sure your dog has proper identification. Get him a collar with an ID tag that has your cell phone number on it. Also consider getting him microchipped. If he gets lost, this is the best way to ensure that you will be reunited.