Enjoying the great outdoors is one of the most magical ways to bond with your tail-wagger, not to mention super-important for their health and happiness too. But as fun as walking around the block is or throwing a frisbee in your backyard can be, nothing will ever beat the adventure of a national park.
It’s that sense of freedom and intrepidness, the chance to hike up dirt trails, smile as your dog bounds across the open spaces and to play fetch in a woodland that smells better than any perfume you’ve ever come across. You’ll love it, but your pooch will love it even more.
The problem is, well, not all national parks are dog-friendly. In fact, a lot of them impose some pretty strict limitations on exactly where you can take your four-legged best buddy, such as trails and other popular parts of the park. Luckily, there are a few out there who will roll out the red carpet for you and your pup. So, without further ado, go and pack plenty of water, pop onto k9sportsack.com to buy the healthiest dog snacks money can buy and lace up your hiking boots because we’ve pulled together a list of the dog-friendliest national parks our great country has to offer. Enjoy.
- Amaze Yourself At Acadia
If you find yourself visiting Maine, then you need to make time for the Acadia National Park where dogs are so well looked after it’s as if they are worshipped here. Not only are they allowed to enjoy the 120 miles of hiking trails that make up this area, they are also allowed to sniff about the 45 miles of carriage roads in the park too. In fact, there are only a few trails that they aren’t allowed on, and that’s only because the climbs have either rungs or ladders on them. What’s more, you and your dog can enjoy almost all of the public spaces too, meaning you can take your doggy almost anywhere in this park you so please.
- Hot Springs Is Heavenly
This incredible national park may not be on your radar for the simple fact it is way down in Arkansas, but it needs to be if you and your pooch love sharing a few outdoor adventures together. As a setting, it is second to none. Hot Spring Mountain, steaming rivers, bathhouses that possess healing waters and plenty of geothermal springs too. And, best of all, so much for your dog to get involved with, starting with a half-mile stroll down Bathhouse Row and then onto the Grand Promenade. Once you’re done here, we recommend you explore the 27-miles of trails that wrap around the city. It’s such a fascinating place to go.
- Shenandoah Is A Shangri La
Not too far away, in the incredible state of Virginia, there is the wonderfully dog-friendly Shenandoah National Park, of which the jewel in the crown has always been Skyline Drive. It’s one of those places that is irresistible. A place where you will want to pull the car over and just stare out at the landscape. But don’t. Instead, keep going until you are nestled deep in this national park, where only 20 miles of trails out of a possible 500 are off-limits to dogs. Yeah. That’s right. There are 480 miles of trails that you and your tail-wagger can get stuck into together. What’s more, the 20 that are considered no-go spots are only so because they are considered dangerous or require rock climbing skills. Anyway, what you will find here is a place of natural beauty, one where both wilderness and waterfalls are free for your dog to roam. It’s sublime – and it’s only an hour or so for Washington D.C.
- The Grandest Canyon Of Them All
Everyone has heard of The Grand Canyon, but what many don’t realise is just how dog-friendly this national park is. That’s not just because it is massive either. It accommodates dogs almost all over. Of course, the thing with the Grand Canyon being so big is, well, where do you start? Our advice: take on the South Rim Trail, where pups can enjoy all 13 miles of trails. As a little note to self, while this hike is relatively simple and enjoyable, it does go up quite high, while the climate is pretty dry, so make sure you pack those snacks we mentioned in the preamble, plenty of water and nutrition and a collapsible bowl. We know we didn’t need to tell you that, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
- The Sensational Sand Dunes
If you’ve never been – nor had any desire to go – to South Colorado, all that is about to change because every dog-hiking enthusiast needs to enjoy Great Sand Dunes National Park first hand (or paw). Not only does this park boast the tallest sand dunes in all of North America, it boasts one of the most diverse spaces anywhere on earth. We’re talking about stunning grasslands, wonderful wetlands, forests thick with conifers and aspen, awesome alpine lakes and, yes, tundra. What’s more, you can enjoy so much of it with your beloved doggy. You can up to the first tall sand dune ridges and run about the vast space between High Dune and the Castle Peak area, as well as the National preserve which is located so close. Just remember that it’s hot, and the sand can get super-hot, which means you should time your hikes accordingly. That said, you could simply break up any walkies with a dip in the Medano Creek.
Of course, this is by no means an extensive list of dog-friendly national parks. Instead, it’s just a bunch of our favorites. That said, some of the others we absolutely love include Joshua Tree in California, the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, both the Olympic and Northern Cascades National Parks and, yes, without a doubt, our very own Assateague Island National Seashore here in Maryland. Basically, no matter where you are heading with your pooch, make sure you get stuck into the great outdoors at one of these places.