America’s 5 Most Dog Friendly National Parks

Ready for an outdoor adventure with your four-legged friend? Here are five of the most dog-friendly National Parks to add to your itinerary!

Mar 29, 2024By Lauren Rey
americas most dog friendly national parks

Planning a dog-friendly road trip or outdoor adventure? National Parks are always great stops but not all of them are dog-friendly. Some parks have heavy restrictions on where dogs are allowed, and others don’t allow them at all. When traveling with a canine companion it’s important to plan ahead and know where they can go. Here’s a look at five of America’s most dog-friendly National Parks for your next great adventure with your four-legged friend!

1. Indiana Dunes National Park

dog beach
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

Voted the #1 Pet-Friendly Attraction in Indiana, Indiana Dunes National Park is not only one of the most dog-friendly places in Indiana but also the nation. While the park itself is fairly new, established in 2019, the dunes have been a favorite spot for dog owners for many years.

Love hiking? Your dog can join you on a hike on one of the numerous dog-friendly trails. The park has over 50 miles of hiking trails that span through sand dunes, forests, and prairies. Have a water-loving pup? Your dog can swim, splash, and play to their heart’s content on the shores of Lake Michigan. Planning an overnight adventure? Your dog is also welcome at all of the campgrounds. With dogs permitted almost everywhere in Indiana Dunes, you’ll find plenty to do with your pup at this National Park.

2. New River Gorge National Park

dog playing in lake
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

With over 40 miles of dog-friendly trails, forests, lakes, and waterfalls in West Virginia, New River Gorge National Park is another perfect park to take your pups for vacation. Dogs are allowed almost everywhere at New River Gorge, including all trails, campgrounds, and even in the rock-climbing areas (as long as they are kept out of the way of climbers).

The park also features dog-friendly lodging, dog-friendly restaurants (patio seating only), and plenty of dog-friendly activities. If your dog is up for it, they can even join you on a kayak or paddleboard on the river. There’s no shortage of great adventure for you and your dog at New River Gorge National Park!

3. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

dog hiking waterfall
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With over 100 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails, Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park is another top spot to explore with your four-legged friend. You can hike through lush green forests, splash in creeks, and admire all the gorgeous waterfalls. Many of the hikes are short and easy for the average dog to accomplish but there are some more rocky, challenging ones if you have an athletic pup in your pack.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park has no campgrounds or lodging, but you can find plenty of dog-friendly accommodations in nearby towns. With so much to see and do at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, it definitely deserves a spot on your dog-friendly road trip itinerary.

4. Shenandoah National Park

dog looking over valley
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One of the largest dog-friendly National Parks, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia boasts over 480 miles of trails, scenic roads, and campgrounds that welcome your four-legged friend. There’s no shortage of adventure for you and your pup in this National Park.

Hike to waterfalls and scenic overlooks, take the Skyline Drive for epic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, or camp under the stars with your four-legged friend by your side. You can even dine at park restaurants (on the patio) with your dog. Shenandoah National Park has so much for you and your dog to do, you’ll want to stay a few days if you can.

5. Acadia National Park

dog at lake
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Canva

With a reputation as the most dog-friendly National Park in the country, it’s no surprise that Acadia National Park in Maine tops our list. Dogs are allowed pretty much everywhere in Acadia, including on the park’s buses, which is far from what most National Parks allow. There are over 100 miles of hiking trails that you and your dog can explore with gorgeous mountain and coastal views.

While there is no overnight lodging in Acadia National Park, the surrounding town of Bar Harbor boasts many dog-friendly accommodations. The town is also known for its many dog-friendly restaurants, shops, and breweries making it the perfect after-park pitstop for you and your pup. At Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor — dogs are VIPs!

Make Your Dog A Bark Ranger

bark ranger
Photo Credit: National Parks Service

No matter which park you choose to visit with your dog, remember that safety comes first. Make sure to pack plenty of water for your pup, keep an eye on the temperature and weather conditions, and take plenty of breaks. Overexcited pups can overexert themselves easily, especially if they are not used to hiking.

You can also protect your pup and local wildlife by following all park rules and respecting restricted areas. Make your dog a B.A.R.K. Ranger! B.A.R.K. stands for “Bag your pet’s waste, Always leash your pet, Respect wildlife, and Know where you can go.” Your dog can be “sworn in” by park rangers at participating parks and earn certificates, collectible tags, and bandanas along the way.


Q: Are there specific trails within these dog-friendly national parks that are especially recommended for dogs, considering factors like difficulty, length, and safety?

A: While each park offers dog-friendly trails, it's best to research or contact the park directly for recommendations based on your dog's size, fitness level, and the trail's terrain and length for a safe hiking experience.

Q: How do the rules and guidelines for dogs vary from park to park, especially regarding leash lengths or off-leash areas?

A: Rules for dogs vary; most parks require leashes not exceeding 6 feet, with off-leash areas being rare. Always check specific park regulations before visiting to ensure compliance.

Q: What preparations should owners make before visiting these parks with their dogs, beyond the B.A.R.K. Ranger principles, to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip for both pet and owner?

A: Owners should ensure their dogs are healthy for hiking, carry enough water, food, and a first-aid kit, and familiarize themselves with the nearest veterinary services before visiting national parks.

Lauren Rey
By Lauren Rey

A lover of all animals, Lauren’s background is in the veterinary world, but she is now a content writer on travel, wildlife, and all things pets! She’s based in Florida, but when not writing, she’s usually plotting out a new road trip route with her partner-in-crime. Pickles is a mixed-breed rescue dog that loves hiking, road trips, and Starbucks just as much as her mom does!