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But not all National Parks allow dogs. It’s important to do your research before hitting the road to make sure your campsite and/or the trails you plan to hike will allow you to bring your dog.
We rounded up 6 dog-friendly National Parks that you and your canine companion can explore this summer. Just remember, the universal rule is for your dog to stay on a leash at all times — even in dog-friendly parks.
1. Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
Just 75 miles from Washington, D.C., Shenandoah National Park is a must-stop location for dog owners.
There’s no shortage of hiking trails for dogs at this park. Out of over 500 trails, there are only 20 where dogs aren’t allowed.
Dogs are allowed in all the campgrounds, so you and your pup can plan on resting in your Roofnest after a long day on the trail.
You can also cruise down 105 picturesque miles of Skyline Drive. Just be sure to roll down your window for your dog to enjoy it, too.
2. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
The Great Sand Dunes National Park, located near the Sangre de Cristo mountains, is another excellent dog-friendly camping location. Dogs are welcome in the Preserve, main areas of the park, and in Piñon Flats Campground.
There’s a wide array of trail options for you and your dog, from easy walks to 7-mile climbs. You can start your day with a 2.5-mile climb up High Dune. Here, you’ll get the most epic views at sunrise and sunset as the shadows hit the ridges of the dunes.
Medano Creek is a great place for dogs (and their owners) to cool off and splash around. You can also find picnic spots around the creek for a relaxing lunch break.
There’s plenty of other memorable activities to explore around town: Zapata Falls has waterfalls, Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge gives auto tours, and there’s even The Dog Bar Restaurant for taking lunch on the deck.
Pro tip: it can get pretty hot on the sand — up to 150º F. Be sure to bring along protective booties, doggy goggles, and plenty of water to keep your dog comfortable.
3. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Dogs are welcome at one of the most famous National Parks: The Grand Canyon.
The South Rim provides 14 miles of paved trail for you and your dog to safely explore. Bring plenty of water to keep your dog cool on hot days, and be sure keep them leashed the whole time.
The Yavapai Lodge has pet-friendly rooms for an additional $25 per stay. You can also explore the campgrounds (with and without hookups) just inside the park.
Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed down inside the canyon. But there’s a kennel where you can drop off your pet if you want to explore solo for the day.
4. Congaree National Park, South Carolina
Give your dog the outdoor experience of a lifetime at the largest remaining hardwood forest in the southeast.
This dog-friendly National Park gives your pet access to all trails, boardwalks, and campgrounds. That means they can explore the local plants and local wildlife — as long as they’re on a 6-ft leash.
The coolest feature of this park is kayaking and canoeing down the Congaree and Wateree Rivers. So if you’ve got a dog that loves water, they’ll love this spot.
5. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Your dog might not be able to explore the miles of underground cave systems at this National Park, but there are plenty pet-friendly trails above ground.
If you plan on exploring the famous caves of this park, you can drop your dog off at the day-boarding kennel for just $3.50 the first hour and $1 per hour after.
When you’re done exploring, you can pick up your pet and enjoy a night in at The Lodge at Mammoth Cave — which gladly accepts pets of any size for just $9 per night.
The campgrounds are also dog-friendly, so you can plan to pop open your RTT and spend the night sleeping under the stars.
6. Obed Wild & Scenic River, Tennessee
Before going on a hike together, stop by the Visitor Center to pick up an activity checklist that your dog can complete to be sworn in as an official BARK Ranger:
B = Bag Your Poop
A = Always Wear a Leash
R = Respect Wildlife
K = Know Where to Go
Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
And if your dog is a licensed hunter, they can go off-leash with you while you hunt game (unless you’re in a designated safety zone).
Explore the Best Places to Camp With Dogs
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When it comes to staying warm, dry, and comfortable while camping, it’s not just people who sleep better in a hard shell roof top tent.
Roofnest owner Nick Jaynes recently shared why he loves camping in an RTT with his dogs. Read why Roofnest roof top tents are great for camping with dogs >
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