As a general rule, dogs in national parks are welcome to go "anywhere
a car can go." This means your dog can hike along roadways
and walk around parking lots. In most parks dogs can also go in
picnic areas and stay in campgrounds. Occasionally dogs will be
permitted on short trails around a Visitor Center or a campground.
These parks are a notch below in national parks in terms of prestige
and are a mixed bag for active dog owners. Some, like Dinosaur
National Monument or White Sands National Monument, allow dogs
on most trails while others, Devil's Tower or Cedar Breaks for
instance, ban canine hikers from all trails.
National forests, under the stewardship of the Department of Agriculture
and not the Department of the Interior like national parks, offer
the meatiest hiking opportunities for dog owners. Dogs are permitted
on most national forest trails, although access can sometimes
be remote. Many times national forest lands surround national
parks so you can get your dog on a trail after being cooped up
These parks are cousins of national forests and you can expect
to have your dog accompany you on your hike. Hiking opportunities
are limited, however, as there typically aren't many trails in
a natioanl grassland.
National Recreation Areas
As the name implies, these lands are managed to maximize public
use - for humans and dogs. Many trails in national recreation
areas are open to off-road vehicles, mountains bikes, and horses.
These types of trails will invariably be open to dogs as well.
You can expect to find good canine hikes in almost any national
National Seashores and Lakeshores
Dogs are seldom allowed on trails at a national seashore but happily
most (the southeastern national seashores are an exception) allow
dogs on the beach year-round. National lakeshores are good bets
for canine hikers as dogs are allowed on many trails in these
parks along the Great Lakes.
National Historical Parks
These parks are hidden gems for canine hikers. There are few bans
on dogs in national historical parks. In addition to learning
a thing or two about American history, these parks often feature
interesting hiking: the rolling hills of eastern Pennsylvania
in Valley Forge Historical Park, the mountains of Harpers Ferry
Historical Park, the wild Potomac River of the Chesapeake &
Ohio National Historical Park to name a few.
Article written by:
Doug Gelbert, publisher, A BARK IN THE PARK SERIES;
Author - THE CANINE HIKERS BIBLE - check the website!
Cruden Bay Books, P.O. Box 467, Montchanin DE 19710