The Most Dog-Friendly National Parks In The US

If your family consists of a four-legged friend, you've likely felt the regret associated with leaving your dog at home while the rest of the family heads off to a fun-filled vacation. For many of us, pets are family members, and leaving them at home can put a damper on an otherwise fun adventure. Furthermore, it can be costly to kennel a beloved fur baby or hire a qualified pet sitter while you're away. Instead of forking out the big bucks to ensure your best friend stays comfortable while you're away, plan a vacation that the whole family can enjoy — without excluding your beloved pup.

If you're traveling around the U.S.A., you're lucky enough to have plenty of dog-friendly vacation options to choose from. The best pet-friendly destinations are outdoorsy, where people and their pets can enjoy beautiful natural scenery and activities like hiking and swimming. Many of America's stunning National Parks have strict regulations when it comes to pets — you'll find that Fido might not be welcomed on the trails or in the campgrounds. Rules on pets vary, so we've rounded up some of the best National Parks in the United States that welcome four-legged visitors year-round. We chose these spots based on factors like the amount of dog-friendly hiking trails, activities, and accommodations for people and pets. If you're planning the perfect pet-friendly vacation, check out some of these beautiful destinations that promise fun for the whole family — including fur babies!

Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park is one of the top destinations for people traveling with four-legged companions. It offers some of the most incredible scenery on the East Coast, so its well-worth adding to your bucket list. Acadia National Park includes nearly 50,000 acres of wild landscapes and is one of two National Parks in New England. Most of Acadia is located on Mount Desert Island, on Maine's Atlantic coast. The park is incredibly popular, attracting more than 4 million visitors annually.

Acadia National Park has more than 150 miles of hiking trails and around 100 miles of trails where dogs are permitted. Additionally, pets can enjoy exploring 45 miles of carriage roads with their humans. Campgrounds that allow dogs within Acadia include Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods. Since Acadia is extremely popular, campgrounds tend to book up well in advance, so be sure to make reservations if you plan on visiting with your pup.

Some areas are unsafe for pets, and lakes and streams are essential sources of fresh water, so neither pets nor their people can swim. Check out the National Park Service website for more information on pet-friendly trails within Acadia.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

If you've ever watched a dog get the zoomies as soon as his paws touch the sand, you'll understand how wonderful it is that Great Sand Dunes National Park allows pooches. Great Sand Dunes National Park is located in southern Colorado, and is one of the state's most underrated National Parks, despite having some of the tallest sand dunes in the United States. The 100,000-acre park is nestled within the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, and landscapes include sandy dunes and pristine alpine lakes that attract nearly a half-million tourists every year.

Dogs can enjoy multiple areas, including several trails like Mosca Pass Trail and Dunes Overlook Trail. They're welcome to explore Medano Pass Primitive Road as well. Pinon Flats Campground allows pets to stay. In all areas, pets must remain on a leash. Remember that in the summer, Great Sand Dunes National Park can have extremely high sand temperatures, which aren't safe for your pup's paws. It's a good idea to look at temperatures before you visit, and always test the sand before you allow your pet to walk on it. Remember that if it is too hot for you, it is too hot for them. Wildlife can also pose a threat to pets, which is another good reason to ensure they remain leashed. For a complete list of pet-friendly spots within Great Sand Dunes, check out the National Park Service website map.

New River Gorge, West Virginia

America's newest National Park is also one of the best spots in the country to enjoy an adventurous vacation with your furry family members. New River Gorge has long been a favorite destination for thrill-seekers, rock-climbers, and paddle sport enthusiasts, but it wasn't officially dubbed a National Park until 2020 so it remains somewhat under-the-radar. The park includes 70,000 acres of land surrounding the wild and rugged New River, which is one of the oldest rivers in the United States.

The river forms a deep gorge through the rolling Appalachian Mountains, and visitors can enjoy hiking through thick forested trails and whitewater paddling on the river in either rafts or kayaks. Travelers looking for the ideal destination for a dog-friendly trip will be pleased to find that pups are allowed on every single trail within this National Park. Pets must remain leashed for their safety and the safety of other visitors. Wildlife is abundant around the New River area and includes venomous snakes and the occasional bear, so make sure you keep your pet close.

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Out of the 500 miles of hiking trails within Shenandoah National Park, less than 20 miles prohibit pets. You'll have plenty to explore throughout the expansive park, which falls just shy of 200,000 acres. Stretching along the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, this park includes stunning scenery like thick forests, waterfalls, and abundant wildlife. It's about an hour's drive from Washington, D.C., and part of the iconic Appalachian Trail passes through the park.

The only rule for pets and pet owners within Shenandoah National Park is to ensure that pets remain leashed at all times, on a leash that is six feet or less in length. You're required to clean up after your pet, and they are not permitted in buildings or Ranger Programs. Other than that, relax and enjoy some epic hikes with your furry best friend! For a list of the 11 trails where dogs aren't permitted, visit the National Park Service website.

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

If you're looking for a fur-friendly getaway that combines natural beauty with some arts, culture, and history, consider planning a trip to Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas. Hot Springs is known for its mineral-rich springs that have been visited for generations for their healing properties, leading to the construction of multiple historic spas and bathhouses. Hot Springs is the name of both the park and the quaint town located next to the park. Both are super dog-friendly. Dogs can explore all of the 26 miles of trails within the National Park along with you, as long as they remain on a leash. There's even a B.A.R.K. Ranger Program you can complete with your dog to earn a certificate.

The nearby town of Hot Springs has more than 265 dog-friendly hotels, according to the Bring Fido website. Pet-friendly accommodations include private cabin rentals to luxurious historic homes, adorable inns, and classic hotels. There are also around 40 restaurants with dog-friendly patios where you can enjoy a tasty meal.


When researching dog-friendly National Parks around the United States, we considered how much of the total National Park acreage dogs can access. We looked at dog-friendly hiking trails, conditions, and other dog-friendly activities nearby. We also looked at campgrounds and other accommodations that allow dogs — either within the park or nearby.