8 Best Pet-Friendly National Parks to Explore

8 Best Pet-Friendly National Parks to Explore

If you’re someone who lives an active lifestyle, you probably know all the best places to go to hike and explore. You may even have a bucket list of places you haven’t already been to or want to visit again. However, if you’re a pet owner, you might struggle with your desire to explore without leaving your dog behind. Lots of people camp and travel the world with their pets. From hiking to swimming, families everywhere bring their pets along for the ride. Choosing to bring your pet with you while you explore the outdoors is no easy feat. There are lots of parks that don’t allow pets. But what about the ones that do? Here are some of the best pet-friendly national parks you can explore together!

  1. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. Known for its steaming water pockets, Hot Springs National Park has lots of trails available for you and your pup to traverse. If Hot Springs isn’t on your list of places to go, you’ll want to add it. With over 26 miles of trails that connect the city of Hot Springs, you’ll always have something new to explore. Make sure you’ve invested in a quality dog collar and leash setfor your dog so they can explore the trails and come across the springs with you! It’s important that you keep your dog safely leashed at all times here, especially because the steaming water might be too hot for them.
  2. Acadia National Park, Maine. Located in Maine, Acadia National Park has a variety of options for dog owners to bring their pet along. In fact, Acadia is one of the most dog-friendly national parks! With breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, Acadia National Park has over 120 miles of hiking trails. It’s perfect for every dog owner out there who wants a fresh and exciting place to take their dog. Together, you can visit the rocky beaches, look out at all the formations in the ocean and enjoy the trails.
  3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. The majority of the southern portion of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is pet-friendly. With 13 miles of trails, you and your dog will get to see all the beautiful sights the Grand Canyon has to offer. However, it’s important to remember that there are very specific parts within the park that have restrictions for safety and health. Some of the wildlife at the Grand Canyon might not be safe for dogs to interact with, either, so be mindful of what’s out there as you and your dog traverse the canyon.


  1. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, Shenandoah National Park is a great pit stop for you and your dog between parks. Skyline is immensely popular for locals and tourists alike, but many park and explore the various trails. There are some trails that are off-limits to dogs, but a majority of them are open for you and your dog. Try to go at sunrise or sunset so you can see the blue haze in all its glory. For those who don’t know, the Blue Ridge Mountains get their name from native trees that release a chemicalinto the air, creating a blue haze you can see covering the mountains from a distance.
  2. New River Gorge National Park, West Virginia. Speaking of mountains, the New River Gorge National Park in West Virginia is a great place to take your dog. Dogs are welcome on all the trails of the park. If you love to look at waterfalls, make sure you stop at Sandstone Falls and take a peek at the 1,500-foot wide falls divided by islands. You and your dog will love the chance to explore the wilderness of West Virginia at New River Gorge, especially getting to look at the waterfalls.
  3. National Mall, Washington, D.C. The National Mall in Washington, D.C. is actually a National Park! Take your dogs for a jaunt around the nation’s capital for a break from all the trees, branches and potentially dangerous wildlife. It’s a great place to explore with your dog. You can also find a variety of dog-friendly restaurants along the National Mall to stop at and enjoy a cup of coffee or a light snack while the dogs rest. Of course, since the National Mall is so busy at any given point of the year, it’s important you do your best to keep your dogs healthy and safe. A silicone pet tag is a great optionfor all dogs. It’s quiet and safe, plus it includes lots of space for your dog’s important information, such as medical conditions, your contact information and whether or not they’re microchipped.


  1. White Sands National Parks, New Mexico. White Sands National Park in New Mexico is unique because it actually allows for dogs to wander freely on their leashes! That’s right. If you’re looking for a National Park that allows your dog to enjoy themselves with minimal oversight from you, the White Sands is the place to go. Because it’s not actually sand the dogs are roaming over but gypsum, there really aren’t any trails. This makes for a great time for you and your dog, wandering through all the areas you want. On some of the tallest dunes, you can actually see the Organ Mountains in the distance. It’s a great spot for you and your dog!
  2. Congaree National Park, South Carolina. In South Carolina is a National Park that features champion trees and a rich, interesting history that can only accompany a park in a place like South Carolina. While now a National Park, the Congaree area was once known as a common escape route and hiding placefor bootleggers, criminals and even escaped slaves. If you’re the type of person who thinks exploring the nation’s oldest growth bottomland forest is the highlight of your weekend, then Congaree is the place for you.

Finding places to bring your dog is a challenge, especially if you enjoy national parks and other outdoor activities. There are a variety of national parks that allow dogs, even if it’s just at the campsite! Finding the right one takes a bit of patience, but once you locate them, you’ll be well on your way to visiting almost every park with your pup.