Several years ago, we wrote a book titled National Parks with Kids. A few years later, we followed that title with Best of National Parks with Kids, a more selective look at the best family-friendly parks. And the parks are very family-friendly with many offerings for all ages.
While they may be family-friendly, however, the national parks aren’t especially dog friendly. In general, you’ll find that most (not all) permit pets to access areas that you can access by car — parking lots and roadsides — with your dog on a leash no longer than six feet in length. It goes without saying that, of course, you must pick up all dog waste and dispose of it properly. With the exception of service dogs, dogs are prohibited from nearly all public buildings.
Because of protected species and backcountry hazards both to your pet and to local wildlife, many (most) parks prohibit dogs from using backcountry trails. Many also restrict use on other trails. We’ve linked below to the pet access pages on the National Park Service site; some include maps highlighting areas which welcome your dog. This isn’t a comprehensive list of all parks in the national park system but will give you an overview of the park rules.
- Acadia National Park, Maine. Dogs are allowed on 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads.
- Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Nebraska. Dogs are not allowed in the visitor center but are allowed on the trails on a leash.
- Andersonville National Historic Site, Georgia. Pets are welcome in the park but restricted from the landscaped and grassy areas within the National Cemetery and interior of the buildings.
- Appalacian National Scenic Trail. Dogs are allowed everywhere on the Trail except in three areas: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina; Trailside Museum and Wildlife Center in Bear Mountain State Park, New York; and Baxter State Park, Maine.
- Arches National Park , Utah. Dogs may be walked on roads and in parking lots only.
- Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico. Aztec Ruins welcomes pets on leashes in the picnic area adjacent to the parking lot. Pets are not permitted in the Visitor Center or on the trail through the archeological site.
- Badlands National Park, South Dakota. Pets are prohibited from hiking trails, public buildings (i.e. visitor centers), and backcountry areas, including the Badlands Wilderness Area and areas with prairie dog colonies.
- Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico. Pets are NOT permitted on any park trails. They are allowed in the picnic area, campground, and parking lots.
- Big Bend National Park, Texas. Pets are not allowed on trails, off roads, or on the river. Your pet can only go where your car can go.
- Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, Kentucky & Tennessee. Dogs are permitted throughout the park as long as they are on leash. Pets are even allowed in the Bandy Creek Visitor Center as long as they are on a leash or being carried.
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado. Your leashed dog is permitted on roads, in campgrounds, to the overlooks, and on the Rim Rock Trail, Cedar Point Nature Trail, and North Rim Chasm View Nature Trail. Pets are not allowed on any other hiking trails, inner canyon routes or in the wilderness area.
- Bryce Canyon National Park , Utah. Pets are only permitted in campgrounds, parking lots, paved roads, paved viewpoint areas, and on the paved trail between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point. Pets are not permitted on unpaved trails or viewpoints, in public buildings or on public transportation vehicles. These regulations also apply to pets that are carried.
- Buffalo National River, Arkansas. Two trails within the park have been opened to pets on a trial basis: Mill Creek Trail in the Upper District near Pruitt, and the Forest Pit Trail in the Lower District at Buffalo Point.Pets are not allowed in any government buildings, caves or on most park trails. Pets are not allowed within designated wilderness areas with the exception of the Ponca Wilderness gravel bars.
- Cabrillo National Monument, California. Pets are not allowed in the park, except in the coastal and tidepool areas.
- Canyonlands National Park , Utah. Pets may accompany visitors in the developed campgrounds, and may be walked in the park along paved roads. Pets may also accompany visitors traversing the Potash/Shafer Canyon road between Moab and the Island in the Sky.
- Cape Code National Seashore, Massachusetts. Specific areas where pets are prohibited are posted.
- Cape Hatteras National Seashore, North Carolina. Pets are not allowed on designated swim beaches or in buildings.
- Cape Lookout National Seashore, North Carolina. Pets are allowed on the beaches of Cape Lookout National Seashore, but must be kept on a leash at all times.
- Capitol Reef National Park, Utah. Pets are allowed along the trail from the campground to the visitor center, along roads, and in the orchards, when the orchards are open. Pets are not permitted on hiking trails.
- Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site, North Carolina. Please do not stray off developed trails.
- Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. Pets are not allowed on park trails, off roads, or in the cave.
- Catoctin Mountain Park, Maryland. Pets are permitted in Owens Creek Campground and on park trails; pets are not permitted in buildings.
- Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico. Pets are allowed in Gallo Campground, but must be on a leash at all times and under control. Pets are allowed on the backcountry hiking trails (Pueblo Alto, Peñasco Blanco, South Mesa, and Wijiji trails) as long as they remain on a leash that is no longer than 6 feet. Pets are not allowed within the archeological sites. (Be sure to read the warning about Hantavirus and Bubonic plague.)
- Colonial National Historical Park – Historic Jamestowne, Virginia. Pets are welcome but must be maintained on a leash; pets are allowed on the Historic Site and Island Loop Drive but not allowed in the Visitor Center/museums.
- Colonial National Historical Park — Yorktown Battlefield, Virginia. Pets are permitted within most areas of Yorktown Battlefield. Pets are prohibited within the brick wall of the National Cemetery.
- Colorado National Monument, Colorado. Dogs are not allowed on hiking trails or anywhere in the backcountry. Pets may also not accompany cyclists while riding on Rim Rock Drive. Pets may accompany visitors in the developed campground area and may be walked in the park along paved roads. Pets must be leashed at all times when outside a vehicle.
- Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Pets are allowed on roads, established parking areas, Grayback Road, developed campgrounds, and designated picnic areas. Pets are not allowed in the backcountry, or on any trail within the park (including hiking trails and designated ski trails and routes).
- Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Kentucky. Pets are welcome but must be on a leash or in a carrier at all times while in the park.
- Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia. Pets are prohibited in the campgrounds, on the Ferry and in public buildings.
- Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska. Dogs may be walked on the Park Road, in parking lots, or on campground roads. Pets are not permitted on park trails, nor off-trail in the wilderness and are allowed on any of the various buses in Denali.
- Devil’s Postpile National Monument , California. Pets are allowed in the campground and day use areas as well as on trails but must be on a leash at all times within the monument. Dogs are allowed on leash on the shuttle buses. All dogs riding the shuttle buses must also wear muzzles.
- Devil’s Tower National Monument, Wyoming. Pets are not allowed on the trails at Devils Tower National Monument.
- Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado and Utah. Pets are not allowed in any of the buildings or on any hiking trail within the park.
- Effigy Mounds National Monument, Iowa. Pets are allowed on the Monument’s trails.
- Everglades National Park , Florida. Dogs are permitted on roadways open to public vehicular traffic, in roadside campgrounds and picnic areas, on the maintained grounds surrounding public facilities and residential areas and aboard boats.
- Fire Island National Seashore, New York. After Labor Day, you can enjoy a stroll on Fire Island National Seashore beaches with your well-mannered dog. Between March 15 and Labor Day, pets are restricted on federally-owned ocean beaches.
- Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Maryland. Pets are allowed outside of the historic zone, an area bounded by a split-rail fence and including and surrounding the historic Star Fort.
- Fort Pulaski National Monument, Georgia. Pets must be kept on a leash at all times, but are allowed anywhere in the park except the Visitor’s Center.
- Fort Scott National Historical Site, Kansas. Pets are allowed on site, providing they are on a leash, but may not enter buildings.
- Gateway National Recreation Area, New York & New Jersey. Pets ARE permitted on bay-side beaches at Plum Island and Horseshoe Cove throughout the year, but must always be on a leash. Dogs are NOT permitted at any campgrounds at Floyd Bennett Field, Camp Hudson at Fort Wadsworth and Sandy Hook; at ocean-side beaches at Sandy Hook Unit from March 15 through Labor Day; at swimming beaches at Staten Island Unit’s Great Kills Park from Memorial Day through Labor Day; at Jacob Riis Park, Fort Tilden and Breezy Point Tip (all within Jamaica Bay Unit) between March 15 and September 15; and at ANY part of Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge at ANY time of year.
- Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania. Pets are not allowed in the Museum and Visitor Center, the Soldiers’ National Cemetery, or other park buildings at any time.
- Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. Pets are not allowed on trails, beaches, or anywhere in the backcountry, with the exception of pets that remain on board private vessels on the water.
- Glacier National Park , Montana. Pets are allowed in developed areas, in front country campgrounds and picnic areas,along roads, in parking areas, and in boats on lakes where motorized watercraft are permitted. Pets are not permitted on trails, along lake shores, in the back country, or in any building.
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona & Utah. Pets are allowed in most parts of the recreation area but NOT archeological sites, marinas, docks, walkways, and launch ramps, except when proceeding directly to or from a boat, along the San Juan River from Clay Hills Crossing upstream to the Glen Canyon NRA boundary, Orange Cliffs special permit area, Rainbow Bridge NM, except for pets in vessels at the courtesy docks, on the Colorado River downstream from the dam to the boundary of Grand Canyon NP or in Coyote Gulch within the boundaries of GCNRA.
- Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. Leashed pets are allowed on trails above the rim, Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, Trailer Village and throughout the developed areas. Pets are not permitted below the rim, in park hotel rooms or on park buses.
- Grand Teton National Park , Wyoming. Pets are not permitted on hiking trails, inside visitor centers or other facilities. A good rule of thumb is that a pet may go anywhere a car may go: roads and road shoulders, campgrounds and picnic areas, parking lots, etc.
- Great Basin National Park, Nevada. Pets are not permitted in Lehman Caves or at evening programs. Pets are not permitted on trails or in the backcountry of the park (except leashed pets on the Lexington Arch Trail and the Great Basin Visitor Center to Baker Trail). Leashed pets can only be exercised in the campgrounds, in front of the visitor centers, and along roads.
- Great Falls Park, Virginia. Leashed pets are welcome on all park trails, parking lots, falls overlooks, and picnic areas.
- Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Colorado. Pets are permitted in most areas of the main portions of the park but not in the Dunefield outside the main day use area, in designated backpacking sites, and in undeveloped portions of the national park.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina & Tennessee. Dogs are allowed in campgrounds, picnic areas, and along roads. Dogs are only allowed on two short walking paths—the Gatlinburg Trail and the Oconaluftee River Trail. Pets are not allowed on any other park trails.
- Gulf Islands National Seashore ,Florida. State laws prohibits pets on beaches. In the Mississippi District, pets are not allowed on the federally designated wilderness islands, Horn or Petit Bois Islands or the designated swim beach on West Ship Island. Pets are not allowed in the forts or visitor use facilities such as pavilions. Visitors may walk their pets on trails, multi-use paths, or on the park roads as long as the animals are on a 6-foot leash or less.
- Haleakala National Park, Hawaii. Dogs are permitted in parking lots and drive-up campgrounds and on roadways and paved pathways only.
- Harpers Ferry National Historical Park , West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland. Pets are not permitted on the park shuttle buses or in park buildings.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Pets are prohibited in all of the undeveloped areas of the Park including all designated wilderness, all trails, and on Hilina Pali road including the Kulanaokuaiki Campground.
- Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, Iowa. Dogs are not permitted in buildings.
- Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore , Indiana. The national lakeshore beach east of Indiana Dunes State Park is open to pets. Pets are not permitted on the beach west of the state park (State Highway 49). Pets are permitted in parking areas and trails near the beach area, but must stay off the actual closed beach.
- John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon. Pets are allowed in developed areas (such as picnic areas, overlooks, etc.) and along hiking trails. Pets are not allowed inside government buildings.
- Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska. Pets are allowed only on the road to Exit Glacier and in the parking lot. They are not allowed on trails or in the coastal backcountry. Dogs used for mushing or skijoring may be used on the Harding Icefield at any time, and in the Exit Glacier area when the road is closed due to snow and vehicle access is not allowed.
- Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. Dogs may go anywhere a car may go: roads and road shoulders (not snow-covered), campgrounds, picnic areas, and parking lots. Pets are not permitted on any hiking trail, in the park backcountry (including snow-covered roads or trails), in any body of water, or inside visitor centers or other park facilities.
- Lava Beds National Monument, California. You may bring your pet along in developed areas, but not on trails, in caves, or into buildings.
- Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois. Pets are not allowed in any of the park’s historic buildings including the Lincoln Home and the park’s Visitor Center.
- Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument, Montana. Pets are not allowed out of vehicles in the park.
- Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park, Texas. Pets are permitted in very limited areas of Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. Lyndon B. Johnson State Park and Historic Site does allow leashed pets on trails.
- Mammoth Cave National Park , Kentucky. No pets are permitted in any cave with the exception of designated service animals. Pets are not permitted in guest rooms at the Mammoth Cave Hotel, Sunset Point Lodge, or the Hotel Cottages; pets are permitted in the Woodland Cottages.
- Manzanar National Historic Site, California. Dogs are welcome and can enjoy a walk around the auto tour road.
- Minute Man National Historic Park, Massachusetts. Pets are not allowed in any of the visitor centers.
- Mount Rainier National Park, Washington. Pets are allowed on leash on the Pacific Crest Trail and in parking lots, campgrounds, and on paved roads. Pets are not allowed on other trails, in wilderness and/or off-trail areas, inside buildings, in amphitheaters, or on snow.
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota. Pets (except service dogs) are not permitted in any part of the memorial, except in the pet exercise areas located at each end of the upper level of the parking facility.
- Niobara National Scenic River, Nebraska. Dogs are allowed on the river. Pets must be leashed at all times within Smith Falls State Park, at the Brewer Bridge Landing and on the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge. Dogs are allowed on the nature trails at Smith Falls and at Fort Niobrara. Pets are also allowed within the Fort Niobrara Wilderness.
- North Cascades National Park , Washington. Dogs and other pets are not allowed within the national park except on a leash on the Pacific Crest Trail, and within 50 feet of roads. Service animals are allowed for those with disabilities. Pets are allowed on a leash within the Ross Lake and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. Pets are also allowed on most surrounding national forest lands.
- Olympic National Park, Washington. Pets are permitted (leashed only, maximum 6′ length) in park campgrounds, picnic areas, and parking lots; they are also allowed on the following trails and ocean beaches:Spruce Railroad Trail (Olympic Discovery Trail), Peabody Creek Trail, all Kalaloch Beaches (from Ruby Beach south to South Beach) and Rialto Beach, 0.8 mile north to Ellen Creek only (day use only).
- Oregon Pipe Cactus National Monument , Arizona. Pets are welcome on the Palo Verde Trail, Campground Perimeter Trail, and all roads open to visitors, including the paved campground areas. They are not allowed on any other trails or in the wilderness and must be leashed.
- Padre Island National Seashore, Texas. Pets are permitted throughout the park, except for the Malaquite Visitor Center’s deck and in the picnic shelter area on the beach directly in front of the Visitor Center.
- Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas. Pets are welcome at Pea Ridge National Military Park but may not enter buildings.
- Petroglyph National Monument, New Mexico. Petroglyph National Monument allows dogs in Rinconada Canyon, Piedras Marcadas Canyon, and at the Volcanoes Day Use Area. They are not allowed in the crowded Boca Negra Canyon.
- Pinnacles National Park, California. Pets are allowed in the picnic areas, parking lots and on paved roads. Dogs and other pets are prohibited on monument trails.
- Pipe Spring National Monument, Arizona. Please remain on the sidewalks with your pet. Pets are not allowed in the historic buildings or on the Ridge Trail.
- Point Reyes National Seashore, California. Pets are allowed in the Bear Valley Visitor Center parking lot and picnic area. Pets are not permitted in public buildings, on public transportation vehicles, or in locations designated as a swimming beach. All trails within the park are closed to pets—with the exception of Kehoe Beach trail and designated trails in the neighboring Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Pets are allowed on these ocean-facing beaches throughout the year: Kehoe Beach – north of the Kehoe Beach trail; Limantour Beach – southeast of the parking lot to the beach adjacent to Coast Camp; Point Reyes/Great Beach – from the North Beach parking lot to the south. Be sure to see the site for exceptions and special seasons.
- Redwood National and State Parks, California. Dogs are permitted on all road-accessible beaches (excluding dune habitat), within 100 feet of public roads and parking areas (but not on trails), at designated picnic areas, and within all road-accessible campgrounds.
- Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Pets are permitted in Rocky Mountain National Park, however they are not permitted on trails or in the backcountry. They are allowed only in areas accessed by vehicles, including roadsides, parking areas, picnic areas and campgrounds.
- Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, New York. Theodore Roosevelt’s former home welcomes pets on the grounds but all structures are off limits.
- Saguaro National Park, Arizona. pets are allowed only on roadways and in picnic areas. (Pets are excluded from Mam-A-Gah picnic area in the west district as it is only accessible by trail.)
- San Antonio Missions National Historic Park, Texas. Family pets are welcome on the grounds of the four missions, as long as they are on a leash or being carried. They will not be allowed into park buildings or the churches. Dogs are not permitted on the Yanaguana Nature trail at Mission San Juan.
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California. Pets are not permitted on any of the trails in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks but are permitted on trails in the national forest.
- Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan. Pets are allowed on many beaches. Pets are not allowed on the Dune Climb, Maritime Museum grounds, White Pine and Valley View backcountry campsites, all group campsites, Glen Lake Picnic Area, North Bar Lake, and North and South Manitou Island.
- Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, Arizona. Pets are allowed in the parking lot only and must be leashed at all times. Pets are NOT ALLOWED on any trails in the monument or in buildings.
- Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Kansas. Dogs are welcome in picnic areas and at the ranch headquarters area, but not inside the historic buildings or in the tour buses.
- Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota. Pets are not permitted in park buildings, on trails, or in the backcountry.
- Vicksburg National Military Park, Mississippi. Pets are welcome in Vicksburg National Military Park; pets are not allowed in visitor facilities or on the USS Cairo gunboat exhibit.
- White Sands National Monument, New Mexico. Pets are not allowed inside buildings.
- Yellowstone National Park, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming. Pets may accompany you in the front country areas of the park. This includes any areas within 100 feet of roads, parking areas, and campgrounds. Pets are prohibited in the backcountry and on trails and boardwalks.
- Yosemite National Park Pets are only allowed in developed areas, on fully paved trails and roads except trails signed as not allowing pets (pets are not allowed off the floor of Yosemite Valley, including the trail to Vernal Fall) and in campgrounds (except Tamarack Flat and walk-in campgrounds). Dogs are not permitted on shuttle buses.
- Zion National Park, Utah. Leashed pets may be walked on the Pa’rus Trail: however, pets are not permitted on any other trails, on shuttles, in public buildings, or in the wilderness. Properly restrained pets are allowed along public roads and parking areas (generally within 100 feet of the road surface), in the developed campgrounds and picnic areas, and on the grounds of the Zion Lodge.