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How to Enjoy Dog Friendly National Parks with Your Furry Friend

National parks are some of the most beautiful and diverse places in the country, but not all of them are dog friendly. Many national parks have strict pet policies that limit where you can take your dog, or prohibit them altogether. However, there are some national parks that welcome dogs and offer plenty of opportunities for you and your furry friend to have fun and explore. In this post, I will share some of the best dog friendly national parks, as well as some tips and resources to help you plan your trip.

Acadia National Park - Maine

Acadia National Park is one of the most dog friendly national parks in the country, with over 100 miles of trails and 45 miles of carriage roads that are open to leashed dogs. You can hike with your dog to scenic viewpoints, such as Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the Atlantic coast, or along the rocky shore, where you can see the famous Thunder Hole, a natural phenomenon that produces a loud boom when the waves crash into a cavern. Dogs are also allowed in most of the public areas in the park, such as picnic areas, campgrounds, and visitor centers. The only places where dogs are not allowed are a few trails that require climbing on iron rungs or ladders, and some beaches during the summer season.

Acadia National Park is located on the coast of Maine, and has a mild climate that makes it a great destination for any season. The park is especially beautiful in the fall, when the foliage turns into vibrant colors, and in the spring, when the wildflowers bloom. The park also offers a free shuttle service that runs from late May to mid-October, and allows dogs on board. You can also get your dog a BARK Ranger badge, by following the park’s pet etiquette and attending a ranger program with your dog.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Ohio

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is another dog friendly national park that has a lot to offer for you and your pup. The park has over 125 miles of trails that are open to leashed dogs, ranging from easy to strenuous, that take you through woodlands, wetlands, and old fields. You can also hike along the Towpath Trail, a historic canal route that follows the Cuyahoga River, and see the restored locks, canal boats, and interpretive exhibits. Dogs are also allowed in the campgrounds, picnic areas, and visitor centers in the park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is located near Cleveland, Ohio, and is one of the newest national parks in the country, established in 2000. The park preserves the natural and cultural heritage of the region, and showcases the diversity and beauty of the landscape. The park is also home to some unique attractions, such as the Brandywine Falls, a 65-foot waterfall that cascades over a sandstone ledge, and the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, a historic train that offers scenic rides through the park. You can also enjoy some seasonal events, such as the Maple Sugar Festival in March, and the Music in the Meadow concert series in the summer.

Shenandoah National Park - Virginia

Shenandoah National Park is a dog friendly national park that boasts some of the most stunning views and trails in the country. The park has over 500 miles of trails that are open to leashed dogs, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a famous long-distance hiking trail that spans from Georgia to Maine. You can hike with your dog to panoramic overlooks, such as Hawksbill Mountain, the highest point in the park, or to scenic waterfalls, such as Dark Hollow Falls, a 70-foot cascade that drops over a series of ledges. Dogs are also allowed in the campgrounds, picnic areas, and lodges in the park.

Shenandoah National Park is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, and has a temperate climate that varies with elevation and season. The park is most popular in the fall, when the leaves change into brilliant colors, and in the spring, when the wildflowers and wildlife are abundant. The park also offers a scenic drive, the Skyline Drive, a 105-mile road that runs along the crest of the mountains, and has 75 overlooks that offer spectacular views of the valley below. You can also enjoy some cultural and historical programs, such as the Blacksmithing Demonstration, the Mountain Music Jam, and the Civil War History Talk.

Tips and Resources

Here are some tips and resources to help you plan your dog friendly national park trip:

  • The best time to visit dog friendly national parks depends on your preference and the park’s climate, but generally, the spring and fall are the most pleasant and less crowded seasons.

  • The park entrance fee varies by park, but it is usually around $30 per vehicle or $15 per person, and it is valid for seven days. You can also buy an annual pass for $80, or a national park pass for $80, which gives you access to all national parks in the country for a year.

  • The park has a website, where you can find more information about the park’s history, geology, wildlife, and activities. You can also download maps, brochures, and guides, and check the current conditions and alerts.

  • The park has a visitor center, where you can get information, maps, permits, and souvenirs. The visitor center is usually open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on some holidays.

  • The park has some general rules for pets, such as keeping them on a leash no longer than six feet, picking up and disposing of their waste, and not leaving them unattended in vehicles or campgrounds. You should also check the park’s specific pet policy, as some parks may have additional restrictions or regulations.


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