Pets Go Camping!

June 10, 2012 | By Amy Lieberman | Category: Travel | 1 comment
Tags: travel, lifestyle & trends, care & safety

Tips for traveling to national parks with your pets.

The United States has nearly 60 national parks across the country, offering diverse options for beautiful nature-fueled travel and vacations. But before you pack the car up with the dog and head out to the park that's calling your name, make sure you carefully research each park's pet policies. National parks, though keen to protect the animals that already live within them, are not always pet-friendly.

National forests and state parks, on the other hand, generally don't have quite as strict regulations when it comes to letting dogs enter and stay in the parks, as well as roam the grounds (though likely always on a leash) once they are there. Superior National Forest, in Minnesota, Green Mountain National Forest, in Vermont and Bighorn National Forest, Wyoming are just a few options that would give some national parks a run for their money.

Large national parks with extensive backcountry areas, as a general rule, do not allow dogs on unpaved trails. These parks include Glacier, in Montana; Yellowstone, stretching into Wyoming and Montana; and Rocky Mountains, in Colorado.

These regulations are for your dog's safety as much as for the safety of the other animals that call the parks home: the National Park Service explains their regulations by saying on their website that dogs can chase and threaten wildlife, and can also become prey for large predators.

But that doesn't mean that all national parks have to be off-limits for people who still might want to make this particular trip a pet-inclusive one. It's wise to check each individual national park's details on pet policies. But, for now, you might want to consider the pet-friendlier parks we've complied below.

Acadia National Park, a 47,000-acre park encompassing mountains, ocean shoreline, islands, forest and lakes in Maine, allows dogs to visit with few conditions. One rule is they must remain on a leash no longer than six-feet in length at all times. But dogs are allowed to frequent the parks' many trails (making up about 100 miles, in total), 45 miles of carriage trails and stay on the campgrounds, as well.

The legendary Grand Canyon National Park, in Arizona, calls for pets to be leashed at all times. But leashed pets are allowed on 15 trails that lie "above the rim," of the canyon, as well as developed areas in the park. The coverage of these trails is extensive and pets are also able to stay in several campgrounds, including Mather Campground and Desert View Campground.

If you're feeling particularly adventurous and wish to venture to the "south rim" of the canyon, there's a kennel where pets can be boarded -- an amenity many national parks offer and people should inquire about, both as to the availability and to the conditions of the kennel. South Rim Kennel rates range from $13 for a cat spending the night to $22 for a dog 50 lb or more spending one night. Pet immunization forms are typically required before an animal can spend time, whether it be just one day or a night, in a kennel.

Yosemite National Park, in central eastern California, permits pets in areas considered developed, like fully paved trails and roads except tails that specifically say they do not permit pets. Pets are also welcome to stay on the vast majority of Yosemite's campgrounds and take in the forests and renowned granite cliffs with their owners.

Olympic National Park, encompassing coastline, glaciered mountains and temperate rain forest, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State allows pets to visit two trails, named Olympic Discovery Trail and Peabody Creek Trail, as well as several beaches.

With a bit of finagling and careful planning, both you and your pets can take in nearly all the U.S. national parks have to offer. Just make sure you do your research carefully in advance.

Have you been camping with your pet? What pet-friendly tips would you give first-time outdoor adventurers? Tell us below!

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Ches21
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Ches21
2 years ago

I used to camp with Skitters she loved it always crawling into the bottom of my sleeping bag and then getting to run loose on the beach in the mornings, I would say let your dog sleep in the tent never make them sleep outside and make sure to tie them outside on the campground far enough away from the fire that they do not drag the tie in to the flames or next to the fire and melt it or hurt them selves also leave wild animals alone that are hurt even babies.

Good Point | Reply ›

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