Dog-Friendly Ranking of the Most Visited National Parks

Posted by Lauren Barker

The National Park System gives adventure-seekers, nature enthusiasts and history buffs on two legs and four the opportunity to see firsthand some of America’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. More than 312 million visitors stepped foot in a national park in 2022 and many with a furry friend by their side. But just how pet friendly are these popular tourist destinations? To help you decide where to take your outbound hound on vacation, BringFido has ranked the top 10 most visited national parks of 2022 in order of pet-friendliness. Here’s the scoop on where your pet is permitted.

10. Rocky Mountain National Park

Estes Park, CO
These guys appreciate the epic views of the Rockies. Photo by @muddogmike403 & @the0nlynikib0nes

Rocky Mountain National Park, just outside of Denver, was the fourth most-visited national park in 2022. While the park's trails, rivers and wilderness might seem perfect for dogs to explore with their humans, its natural conditions are highly preserved and protected. Unfortunately, only two-legged explorers can venture off the paved roads. But, Fido can still get his fill of nature on a scenic drive along the 48-mile Trail Ridge Road, which connects Estes Park on the east to Grand Lake on the west. He'll get to admire the expansive views of the Rockies in every direction and might even spot bighorn sheep, elk and pikas. If he needs to burn some energy, your dog is welcome on ski, snowshoe and hiking trails at nearby Grand Lake Nordic Center, and on hiking trails at Lilly Mountain in Estes Park.

If one day isn't enough in the Rockies, Fido can crash with you at Coyote Mountain Lodge in Estes Park. Or, for a unique stay, book a night at Snow Mountain Ranch Yurts in Granby.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: Spectacular scenery and wildlife viewing opportunities from the comfort of your car

Cons: No park trails accessible to dogs

Dog-Friendliness Score: 2 out of 10

9. Glacier National Park

Kalispell, MT
"The mountains are nice; lunch would be nicer." Photo by BringFido

Glacier National Park on Montana’s northern border boasts snow-capped peaks and lush valleys carved out by glaciers over two million years ago. Only 25 active glaciers remain, but the landscape they’ve left behind is something to behold, making this the 10th most visited national park of 2022. Dogs aren't allowed on the park's trails, lakeshores or backcountry hiking. However, you can take your best friend with you on the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road. This 50-mile scenic drive is usually open from late June through October when the road is clear from snow. Stop for lunch at the dog-friendly Avalanche Creek picnic area, then cruise toward Logan Pass, the highest point in the park. Along the way, watch for bighorn sheep, marmots, mountain goats and the occasional grizzly bear. You may even spot the park's own Bark Ranger, Gracie.

If your pup wants to hike, head south to Flathead National Forest, where dogs are welcome on 2,249 miles of trails. Then, spend a few nights at St. Mary East Glacier KOA and let Fido make friends at their Kamp K9 dog park. Or, for more creature comforts, spend the night at Grouse Mountain Lodge in Whitefish.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: Dogs are welcome on Going-to-the-Sun Road, one of the park’s premier attractions

Cons: No park trails accessible to dogs

Dog-Friendliness Score: 2 out of 10

8. Joshua Tree National Park

Twentynine Palms, CA
Photo by @crazydaisyshug

Canines in California’s Central Desert will enjoy a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, the 8th most visited park of 2022. While dogs are not allowed on unpaved trails they can walk with you for just over a half mile on the paved Oasis of Mara Nature Trail, and to the overlook at Keys View where you can peer out over Coachella Valley and see the Salton Sea and San Bernadino Mountains. Fido is also free to join you on scenic drives like Bighorn Pass Road and Geology Tour Road, which give visitors incredible views of the Mojave and Colorado Desert landscapes as well as miles of cacti, palms and the park’s namesake succulent, the Joshua Tree.

Camp with your canine in one of the park’s dog-friendly campgrounds, like Jumbo Rocks, but be prepared to stay up all night watching the incredible night sky. If a good night’s rest is a must, book a room at the nearby Desert Hot Springs Inn.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: Scenic drives, a paved trail, and unique campgrounds allow dogs

Cons: Dogs are not permitted on any unpaved trails

Dog-Friendliness Score: 3 out of 10

7. Zion National Park

Springdale, UT
"Are you coming or what?" Photo by BringFido

Known for its iconic red rock slot canyons, rivers and sandstone cliffs, Zion National Park in southwest Utah was the third most visited national park in 2022. It ranks 7th on our list, as dogs are not allowed on the park’s shuttle system or many of its trails. But your pup is welcome on the Pa’rus Trail, a 3.5-mile round-trip paved path that follows the Virgin River. Pause to take in the gorgeous sunsets reflected on The Watchman, Zion’s landmark peak. Canine adventurers can also join you on a drive through one of Utah’s most stunning landscapes along the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway.

If you want to spend the night, your pooch is welcome at the South Campground and Watchman Campground, as well as several hotels in Springdale, UT. Grab a bite to eat on one of the nearby dog-friendly patios like MeMe’s Cafe or Zion Pizza and Noodle Co.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: Dogs are welcome on one paved trail, scenic drives and in campgrounds

Cons: Pets are not permitted on Zion’s most well-known trails or shuttle buses

Dog-Friendliness Score: 3 out of 10

6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Gatlinburg, TN
Dogs can join you on a hike in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Photo by BringFido

Great Smoky Mountains National Park lies on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. It’s the most visited national park year after year and ranks 6th on our list thanks to its two dog-friendly trails. The Gatlinburg Trail is a relatively flat path that follows the Little Pigeon River 1.9 miles each way from Sugarlands Visitor Center to the edge of downtown Gatlinburg. The Oconaluftee River Trail runs 1.5 miles each way along the Oconaluftee River from the Oconaluftee Visitor Center toward the town of Cherokee. Dogs are also welcome at many of the campgrounds and picnic areas and can join you on several scenic drives. Cruise around the Cades Cove Loop Road, where you’ll spot plenty of wildlife including elk and black bears.

If it’s mountain hiking Fido wants, there are plenty of opportunities nearby to get his paws dirty. Cherokee National Forest and Nantahala National Forest both border the park and allow dogs on many backpacking and day-hiking trails. Spend a weekend in the dog-friendly Smoky Mountains and stay at The Park Vista, A DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: Two dog-friendly trails, wildlife viewing opportunities and close to other pet-friendly attractions

Cons: Pet-friendly trails are limited

Dog-Friendliness Score: 4 out of 10

5. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park, CA
Dogs can take in the Yosemite Valley views. Photo by @misterporterhouse

The sixth most visited national park of 2022, Yosemite lies in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, four hours east of San Francisco. But, Yosemite’s granite monoliths, waterfalls, meadows and Giant Sequoias feel like another world. While dogs are not allowed on most trails, they are welcome to join you on a few beautiful and easy hikes, and at any reservable non-group campsites.

Take Fido for a stroll to Bridalveil Fall, a half-mile paved path to the base of a beautiful waterfall. Pups with a little more endurance will enjoy the Wawona Meadow Loop, a relatively flat path that runs for five miles through one of the park’s largest meadows. In the spring and early summer months, it’s often filled with wildflowers, and in the fall, the hardwoods lining the meadow turn vibrant colors. This trail sees a relatively low amount of foot traffic, making it an ideal hike for your pup. You can also take her on the Mirror Lake Trail, a paved path one mile in each direction that passes beneath the base of the iconic Half Dome before arriving at Mirror Lake. If you’re visiting in late summer, don’t be alarmed to find Mirror Meadow instead, as the water tends to dry up at this time of year.

Dogs are also welcome in most developed areas, paved roads, sidewalks and bicycle paths, which means you can enjoy breathtaking views of Yosemite Valley with your furry sidekick. Spend the night at one of the park’s campgrounds or glamp in an Airstream trailer, cabin or luxury tent at AutoCamp Yosemite.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: Waterfalls, Giant Sequoias and granite monoliths are all viewable from pet-friendly paved trails and scenic drives

Cons: Unpaved trails and reservable campsites are not accessible to dogs

Dog-Friendliness Score: 5 out of 10

4. Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, WY
"So that's what Old Faithful looks like." Photo by @thedoogledog

Yellowstone became the first National Park in 1872, preserving and protecting some of the earth’s most unique geological features -- geysers, hot springs and fumaroles -- and wildlife like bison, elk, moose and bears. It was the seventh most visited park of 2022, and ranks 4th on our list. This natural wonder is most well known for its famous geyser, Old Faithful. True to its name, the geyser erupts at predicted intervals around the clock. Dogs may not walk on the boardwalks or trails within the park, but there's a shaded area located about 100 yards away where you and Fido can view the spectacle. Once he’s marked Old Faithful off his bucket list, your pup can enjoy a leisurely drive along Yellowstone Loop, where he can watch for wildlife and steaming fumaroles.

After a day in the car, let your dog stretch his legs on the trails at Henry's Lake State Park, just 15 miles west of Yellowstone. Spend the night at one of 12 dog-friendly campgrounds or at Mammoth Hot Springs and Cabins.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: Dog-friendly viewpoint of Old Faithful and wildlife and geological features are viewable on scenic drives

Cons: Trails and boardwalks are not accessible to dogs

Dog-Friendliness Score: 5 out of 10

3. Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon, AZ
Enjoy the majesty of the Grand Canyon with your dog. Photo by BringFido

Arizona's famed Grand Canyon National Park ranks second among the most visited parks of 2022 and third on our list. There’s nothing quite like walking up to the edge of this massive fissure in the earth and peering down into it or watching the sunrise or sunset along its rim. While your furry friend might not find the views as breathtaking as you do, he will enjoy hiking and camping in designated pet-friendly areas throughout the park.

Leashed dogs can join you on the three-mile pathway along the South Rim, which includes numerous lookouts in all directions so you can get that perfect shot for Fido’s Instagram. If you’re visiting in warmer months, hit the trail early in the day to avoid the heat, and pack plenty of water for you and your pup. While dogs are not allowed to accompany you below the rim, South Rim Kennels will look after them while you venture down the canyon on foot or by mule.

If you’re spending the night, reserve a campsite at Mather Campground, Desert View Campground or Trailer Village RV Park. You can also book a pet-friendly room at Yavapai Lodge.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: South Rim trails, campgrounds and Yavapai Lodge welcome dogs

Cons: Dogs are not permitted below the canyon rim

Dog-Friendliness Score: 7 out of 10

2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Peninsula, OH
Photo by Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Centrally located between Cleveland and Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park is one of the most pet-friendly national parks in the country. Leashed dogs are permitted on more than 110 miles of hiking trails and on 20 miles of multi-use paths along the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Take your pup to Ledges Overlook, a rock outcropping with an unobstructed view across the valley, then continue on the Ledges Trail for a 2.2-mile loop, or head to the Brandywine Gorge Trail, a 1.5-mile loop that leads to two overlooks of the 65-foot cascading Brandywine Falls. Visit on a Saturday between May and October, and Fido can join you for Yappy Hour at the park’s Countryside Farmers Market from 11 a.m. to noon.

Stay close to the national park at Staybridge Suites Akron Stow Cuyahoga Falls, and grab dinner at Doodle Drive-In. Fido can refuel on snacks like Doodle Chips, Pup-O-Fluff or the Hangry Husky from the Puppy Bites menu.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: 110 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails, waterfalls and a Yappy Hour farmers market

Cons: Dogs are not permitted on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad

Dog-Friendliness Score: 8 out of 10

1. Acadia National Park

Acadia, ME
Fido can be the first in the U.S. to see the sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Photo by BringFido

The fifth most visited national park of 2022 tops our list for pet friendliness. Acadia National Park, located on the coast of Maine, features rocky beaches and outcroppings along the Atlantic Ocean, thousands of acres of woodlands, and the east coast’s tallest granite peaks. More importantly for Fido, it boasts more than 100 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage trails where pets are permitted. If your pup is an avid hiker, take him on the 7.1-mile roundtrip hike to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. If you hit the trail early, you may be one of the first to see the sunrise in the United States that day.

After your morning hike, hop on the Island Explorer shuttle to pet-friendly destinations like Jordan Pond where you can hike or grab lunch and famous popovers at Jordan Pond House. Or, climb aboard the pet-friendly Isle au Haut Ferry and Mailboat to beautiful Isle au Haut. You and Fido can spend the day hiking and exploring the island’s rocky shoreline, wooded uplands, marshes and a freshwater lake. Dogs are only allowed for day hiking, so you’ll want to catch the late afternoon ferry back to the mainland.

Blackwoods, Seawall and Schoodic Woods campgrounds welcome four-legged campers in the park, but pets hoping for a more cozy stay can opt for Gallagher's Travels Bar Harbor Motel & Cabins in Bar Harbor, one of the best small towns to visit with your pup.

BringFido Ranking

Pros: Dog-friendly trails, transportation, campgrounds and a restaurant

Cons: Porcupines can pose a threat to curious canines

Dog-Friendliness Score: 9 out of 10

BARK Like a Ranger

A BARK Ranger badge and bandana. Photo by

If you’re planning your own national park adventure this year and want to bring Fido along, start by visiting one of the park’s visitor centers and becoming a BARK Ranger. This program encourages dogs and their owners to pledge to protect the parks and themselves by following four simple steps. Remember these and you’re sure to enjoy a memorable trip with your best friend!

Bag your poop.

Always use a leash.

Respect wildlife.

Know where you can go.

What's your favorite pet-friendly national park? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

Banner photo by BARK Ranger Gracie.