The United States has 60 protected areas known as national parks that are all incredible in their own unique way. From the geological features and breathtaking views, to the unusual ecosystems and wildlife, there’s nothing quite like planning a vacation to explore one (or many) of these historic parks.
The downside? Many of them are extremely strict with bringing pets but don’t worry, we’ve done the legwork. Here are some of the country’s top national parks that offer recreational opportunities for you and your canine companion:
1. The views are indescribable and pictures could never capture the magnificence of seeing this place in person. If you haven’t guessed already, we’re talking about the Grand Canyon National Park. Leashed pets are welcome on the Greenway Trail and South Rim Trail, which covers a good amount of the landscape. There’s even a local lodge that accommodates pets for a minor fee!
2. The Petrified Forest National Park is a bit different from your average park as you won’t find the traditional forest or established campground set-up. However this park is about as dog-friendly as you can get and they actually encourage you to bring your pet! There’s a $20 car entrance fee that grants you park access for 7 days...which is a good thing because there's so many trails and backcountry to explore that you'll definitely need more than a day!
3. Maine's Acadia National Park is quite a gem but not one you’ll just happen to stumble upon. Nestled in the far northeastern corner of the country, it’s 250 miles outside of (dog-friendly) Boston, Massachusetts and that’s the closest city! That considered, Acadia is one of the most pet-friendly national parks in all of the country. The only trails that won’t allow your pup to join you on are those that require the use of a ladder, still leaving 100 miles of trails and 45 miles of carriage roads that welcome the adventure!
4. The Natchez Trace National Parkway preserves sites of archaeological, historic, natural and scenic significance along a 444 mile stretch all the way to Nashville, Tennessee. This is a great road trip to plan over the course of a few days where you’ll find over 100 exhibits and marked trails along the way where all leashed pups are welcome.
5. One of the youngest national parks, Cuyahoga Valley National Park was designated in 2000 and welcomes pets throughout more than 20,000 acres of trails including woodlands, fields and wetlands.
6. Padre Island National Seashore allows dogs on leash to explore over 60 miles of protected seashore alongside the Gulf of Mexico. This is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world and the diversity of wildlife is stunning. Pets on leash is definitely important!
7. Shenandoah National Park is located just 75 miles outside of Washington, D.C. and is a great escape into the wilderness. There are more than 500 miles of trails in this park and only 20 are off limits to pets and that’s only due to difficult terrain.
So, are you ready to plan your next adventure? Make sure you find an airline that provides accommodations in-cabin for your pup! If road trips are more your style, get your car prepped with products to keep your dog safe and secure en route.