Most Dog-Friendly National Parks on the West Coast

Posted by Lauren Barker

From the rainforests of Washington to the white sands of New Mexico, Fido is invited to explore many of the national parks in the western U.S. Hike with your hound along canyon rims, let him try his paw at sand sledding and help him take the oath to become a B.A.R.K Ranger during a visit to one of the pet-friendly national parks on the West Coast.

For adventures in other parts of the country, check out the most dog-friendly national parks on the East Coast and in America’s Heartland.

White Sands National Park

Alamogordo, NM
“Hold on tight!” Photo by BringFido/Lauren

You’ll feel like you’ve arrived on another planet when you step foot inside White Sands National Park in Alamogordo, NM. Leashed dogs are permitted to explore the world’s largest gypsum sand dune field, which began forming over 280 million years ago. Take a stroll with Fido along the Interdune Boardwalk, a raised pathway that keeps paws out of the sand while providing shade shelters and offering stunning views of glistening white sand dunes. More adventurous hounds will enjoy a hike on the five-mile Alkali-Flat Trail, just be sure to avoid hiking in the heat of the day and take plenty of water. Of course, your pup can’t visit White Sands without trying his paw at sand sledding. Rent or purchase a saucer from the gift shop, or bring your own, and find the perfect dune where you and your pooch can carve out a path. Wax for the saucers can also be purchased onsite if Fido feels the need for speed.

Clean off those sandy paws and rest up at nearby Quality Inn & Suites Alamogordo. Then explore more epic landscapes at nearby Lincoln National Forest.

Olympic National Park

Port Angeles, WA
“Raise your paw if you know the first rule of a BARK Ranger.” Photo by @olympic_nps

Among Olympic National Park’s temperate rainforests, Pacific coastline and glacier-capped mountains are several pet-friendly trails, beaches and campgrounds for Fido to explore. Begin your adventure by hiking the Peabody Creek Trail, a 4.7-mile out-and-back hike that follows Peabody Creek with multiple wooden bridges crossing over. This trail gets muddy, so bring a towel for wiping paws. For a short and easy hike, take your pup on the Madison Falls Trail, a 0.3-mile out-and-back hike with a beautiful waterfall, or clamber along the Spruce Railroad Trail with beautiful views of Lake Crescent. After your hike, head to The Kalaloch Beach and Nature Trail where leashed pups can play on the sand. You can also snap Fido’s photo beneath the Tree Root Cave, a unique national park experience, at the dog-friendly Kalaloch Campground.

Relax on the coast with your canine at Kalaloch Lodge where Fido will receive the Pampered Pooch package which includes a bandana, collapsible bowl and treats.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park, AZ
“This bench needs some cushions.” Photo by BringFido/Lauren

Conveniently located near Route 66, Petrified Forest National Park is the perfect pit stop on a pet-friendly road trip across Arizona. Let Fido stretch his legs in the National Park System’s only fenced dog run, Petrified Fur-Rest Bark Park. Then stop by one of the two visitor centers to get your pooch certified as a BARK Ranger. He’ll receive yummy treats and a certificate for taking the oath. As you drive along the 28-mile Petrified Forest Road that connects the visitor centers, stop to explore some of the more than eight miles of developed trails that welcome leashed pups. Hike through 250-million-year-old petrified logs, stopping at viewpoints overlooking the Painted Desert, Puebloan ruins, petroglyphs, mesas and more.

Rest up with your desert dog at GreenTree Inn in Holbrook, and then spend the next day on the trails at Homolovi State Park in Winslow.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Montrose, CO
“Whatever you do, don’t look down.” Photo by BringFido/Ruth

Daring dogs who aren’t afraid of heights will enjoy a visit to Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. On the south rim of the canyon, take your leashed canine on a stroll along the relatively flat two-mile round-trip Rim Rock Trail. On the walk, you’ll be treated to views of the Gunnison River and some of the steepest and craggiest canyon cliffs in North America. Pets are also permitted on paths to viewpoints throughout the park, including those along the South Rim Drive. If you’re visiting the north rim instead, take a quick walk with Fido on the North Rim Chasm View Nature Trail, stopping at overlooks along the way to see excellent views of Painted Wall and Serpent Point.

Friendly pups are welcome to stay at the South Rim Campground to admire epic night skies and take part in ranger programs at the campground amphitheater. If your pooch prefers more creature comforts, book a stay at the nearby Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Montrose.

Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon, AZ
“Are we done taking photos and ready to hike?” Photo by BringFido/Becky

Grand Canyon National Park in northern Arizona offers a once-in-a-dog's-lifetime opportunity to witness one of the most majestic vistas anywhere in the world. While dogs are not allowed to accompany you on trails below the rim, there are many places you can explore with your leashed four-legged friends. At the South Rim, Fido is welcome to join you on the 12-mile paved Rim Trail which includes many observation decks and viewpoints, wonderful at any time of day, but perfect for catching the sunrise or sunset over the canyon. Pups visiting the North Rim during summer can stroll along the 3.2-mile multi-use Bridle Trail, ideal for those hoping to see wildlife.

Your pooch can kick back and relax at several park accommodations like Yavapai Lodge, where hungry hounds can join you for dinner at Yavapai Lodge Tavern, and at Mather Campground within walking distance of the South Rim.

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Kimberly, OR
“Are we on Mars?” Photo by @nano.p.nw & @hikerlifer

Divided into three units, Oregon’s John Day Fossil Beds National Monument is home to more than ten miles of pet-friendly trails to explore. In the Clarno Unit, the Trail of Fossils is the best spot in the park to see real fossils, while the Sheep Rock Unit provides views of the river valley and an opportunity to pick fruit from an orchard. Perhaps, the most stunning landscape is in the Painted Hills Unit where boardwalks and trails lead through a vibrant color palette of rocks and clay. Pets are welcome on all trails within the park as well as at overlooks and in picnic areas. Don’t forget to snap Instagram-worthy photos and be sure to #bringfido!

Continue your colorful vacation by staying at this Painted Hills Cottage in neighboring Mitchell. From the brightly painted kitchen to the flower garden outside, color abounds in this peaceful, private sanctuary.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

Mosca, CO
“Hope this rain holds out so we can sled!” Photo by BringFido/Becky

Like White Sands, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado offers Fido a chance to ride the dunes and dig his paws into the sand. The dunes here are the tallest in North America and can make for epic sandboarding and sledding. Leashed dogs are allowed to join their owners on the dunes in the main use area of the park, and in the preserve, including on Mosca Pass Trail which leads to stunning fields of wildflowers in spring and summer. Be sure to walk the 2.7-mile out-and-back Dunes Overlook Trail where you can admire unforgettable views of the dunes. The best time to visit the park with a pooch is in spring or fall, or during early morning or late evening in summer to protect his paws from hot sand.

Clean up and rest up at Best Western Alamosa Inn where four-legged guests receive treats and have access to an on-site dog park.

What is your favorite dog-friendly national park in the western U.S.? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!