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Pet Friendly Vacations in National Parks Make For a Great Time!

Many dog owners may be thinking of hitting the open road and visiting some of our nation’s amazing National Parks with their favorite four-legged friend in tow. As a general rule, most National Parks do allow dogs on a leash in camping and developed areas as well as along roadways. Almost all National Parks stipulate that a dog’s leash cannot be more than six feet in length. With few exceptions, pets must be restrained at all times, are never allowed inside buildings, on beaches or in the backcountry. Unless otherwise noted, trails are usually off limits as well.

City vs. National Parks

However, how is this different from life in the big city with your dog? It’s not, if you think about it. You don’t walk through your New York City, Chicago, San Francisco or Dallas neighborhood with your dog off leash. You don’t take your dog to beaches where he isn’t allowed. Approach the National Park system with that same attitude and you and your hound will have a good time. Be sure to also take precautions for snakes, bugs and potentially problematic plants for both you and your canine companion. As the old adage goes: It’s better to be safe than sorry.  And also, some National Parks come rife with wildlife much bigger, faster and more ferocious than you and your dog combined. As long as you are smart about the surroundings, always clean up after your pet and never leave her unattended, you can enjoy the majestic beauty of a National Park with your dog. The following are a few National Parks with more lenient dog policies.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area (San Francisco & Marin County, Calif.)

It really should come as no surprise that San Francisco’s dog policy in their National Park is a little more on the lenient and tolerant side. This is a city that thrives on its diversity, natural and architectural beauty, and its uniquely tolerant pursuit of living life the way its residents choose. Within Golden Gate National Recreational Area dogs who are under voice control are allowed in Fort Funtson with the exception of the 12-acre enclosure in the northwest area of Funtson. They are also allowed in/on Ocean Beach, Lands End, Fort Miley, the north end of Baker Beach, Crissy Field, Rodeo Beach, Oakwood Valley Road, Muir Beach, Homestead Valley, Alta Avenue and specific trails in the Marin (County) Headlands. Dogs must be on a leash in all other areas of the park that allow dogs. With such a wide array of choices for off leash fun, that’s one rule that shouldn’t be hard to follow.

Wasatch-Cache National Forest (Salt Lake City & Provo, Utah)

The Wasatch Mountain range in Utah affords some majestic and spectacular scenery in the Northern Utah area.  Equally, it makes for perfectly fun pet friendly vacations. The state, and in fact parts of this very range, are known for the world’s best snow conditions and world class skiing and snowboarding. It is home to the famous Park City Film Festival. Within the less developed more open “national park” part of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest dogs must be on a leash in all campgrounds, picnic areas and trailheads at all times. The lone exception is Millcreek Canyon, where dogs are permitted to be off leash on odd numbered days. On even numbered days, dogs must be leashed. In Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon dogs are not allowed at any time, under any circumstances or conditions. Stay tuned!  We’ll be back with another installment of the Guide to National Parks. Yosemite has a curious policy – very restrictive in some areas, oddly free in others. We’ll cover their policy along with Yellowstone and other National Parks of the Western United States.

Our story on National Parks continues here.


Posted by Amy L. on Apr 8, 2011 in Blog, 2 comments
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