National Parks With Your Pup

When we were planning our route for our cross-country trip with Judge, I added about 20 National Parks to the list. We got so many recommendations for all the National Parks we needed to hit up and were so excited. Until about a week before we left and we found out that most National Parks don’t allow dogs. Womp womp.

While it is generally true that National Parks are not the dog-friendliest, don’t cross them all off your list if you are traveling the country with your pup. Here’s how we have made it work in the parks we visited:

Zion National Park: Zion is incredible and a can’t miss park in my opinion. Dogs are allowed on leash on the Pa'rus Trail - a 1.7 mile paved trail that follows the Virgin River from the South Campground to Canyon Junction. There are some incredible views from this trail and it is definitely worth a trip with your pup. Zion is also breathtaking by car. It’s a relatively short drive-through the park with lots of pull outs for scenic views.

Bryce Canyon National Park: Just a short drive from Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon has the largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular columns of rock) anywhere on Earth. Luckily, the paved dog-friendly Rim Trail is a great place to see the breathtaking hoodoos. The Rim Trail is a scenic, panoramic 1.2 mile path between Sunset Point and Sunrise Point that takes you on the ridge of the amphitheater. The views are stunning.

Badlands National Park: Pets are only allowed in developed areas, such as campgrounds and picnic areas, and other areas open to motor vehicles. There are no specific dog-friendly trails in the Badlands; however, this is a very easy park to drive through. We drove through on our way from Iowa to Mount Rushmore and were still able to see some great views, including some bison. There are quite a few lookout spots to stop and take pictures along the drive. On your way out, you can’t miss Wall Drug. You will probably see about 100 billboards advertising this eclectic shop in South Dakota. Its dog friendly and super touristy, but the donuts and 1 cent coffee made it worth it!

Grand Teton National Park: Our favorite National Park on the trip, and probably one of my favorite places I have ever been. Dogs are not allowed on the trails or in the backcountry, and are only allowed where cars can go - roads and road shoulders, campgrounds, parking lots, paved areas. But that shouldn’t deter you from making the trip to the park with your pup. Grand Teton is a smaller park and very easy to drive through. And you really can’t beat the views from the road. Driving through we saw bison and moose end enjoyed views of Jackson Lake and the spectacular Teton Range. And if you are in the area, there is an incredible dog-friendly hike right in Jackson. We hiked to the top of Snow King Mountain twice on our trip because it was that amazing. Its a 4 mile up and back hike that offers stunning views of Jackson and the Teton mountains. It’s pretty strenuous, but absolutely worth the effort. Reward yourself with a beer from one of the many breweries in Jackson (the downstairs tasting room at Roadhouse brewery is one of the only dog-friendly spots we could find to enjoy a beer with Judge).

Yellowstone National Park: Just north of Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone is another great park to enjoy by car with your pup. There are no designated dog-friendly trails, but there is plenty to see driving both the north and south loops and taking advantage of the many scenic stopping points. Yellowstone is a huge park - doing it in one day (which we did because there were no open site that would accommodate our rig by the time we checked in - 8 AM) is a challenge. Make sure you have a full tank of gas and arrive early. The views from the drive are amazing, and you will see lots of wildlife, especially if you drive through Hayes Valley. And both you and your pup can enjoy watching Old Faithful! The geyser area is paved and dogs are allowed up to a certain point.

Glacier National Park: Dogs are allowed in developed areas, front-country campgrounds and picnic areas, along roads, in parking areas, and in boats on lakes where motorized watercraft are permitted. They aren’t permitted on trails, along lake shores, in the backcountry, or in any building. Again, don’t skip Glacier if you are traveling with your pup. You can drive around Glacier and get incredible views. The Going-to-the-Sun Road is an absolute must. The road spans 50 miles and crosses the Continental Divide at Logan Pass. Cut into the side of a mountain, on your drive you will see impressive glaciers, beautiful valleys, cascading waterfalls, towering mountains and maybe even some wildlife. There are vehicle size restrictions, and it is only open seasonally. We couldn’t take our 30 foot rig on the drive, so I biked up to Logan Pass from Avalanche and it was one of the most incredible and challenging things I have ever done. If you are up for an adventure, think about biking this route. I started early and was done around 10:30, just about when the park was starting to get really busy.

Olympic National Park: One of the most dog-friendly parks we have been to! Judge even became a BARK Ranger by learning the BARK Rules of the park (Bag your poop, Always wear a leash, Respect wildlife, and Know where you can go). You can get a picture and dog tag at the Kalaloch Ranger Station. Dogs are allowed on the Peabody Creek Trail (Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles), Rialto Beach parking lot to Ellen Creek (1/2 mile), the beaches between the Hoh and Quinault Reservations (Kalaloch area), Madison Falls Trail (Elwha), and Spruce Railroad Trail (North shore of Lake Crescent). We loved the Spruce Railroad Trail and the Kalaloch area beaches.

Traveling with Judge has been our greatest adventure. And though we are limited in the National Parks, we are so grateful we kept them on our route and explored, even in a limited capacity. If you have any questions about how to visit the parks with your pup, please feel free to reach out to us!

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