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Take Your Dog to a National Park. It Is Allowed, With Restrictions.

Take Your Dog to a National Park. It Is Allowed, With Restrictions.

Ely MacInnes and her husband, Tom, began traveling in the western United States with their 85-pound mutt, Alaska, in March 2020. Driving and living in an R.V., they visited White Sands and Petrified Forest National Parks in New Mexico and Arizona before heading to California, Oregon and Washington. They sometimes struggled to figure out where Alaska could and couldn’t roam, but often found that they could have wonderful experiences.

“We could have a great time viewing the park from the car and doing the limited options that allowed dogs,” said Ms. MacInnes. “Most people think you can’t bring your dogs to national parks, but many national parks actually make it very welcoming.”

In June of that year, the couple started a Facebook group, U.S. National Parks With Dogs, to exchange advice and information about their travels and provide a forum for others to share their experiences, both positive and negative. The group now has nearly 5,000 members.

“We want to make sure everyone can enjoy the parks, whether or not they have a dog,” said Ms. MacInnes, adding that another pup, a blue heeler named Smoky Joe, is now part of her family.

For humans who like to enjoy the outdoors with their canine pals, planning a park visit has gotten easier in recent years thanks to a host of online resources, as well as expanded programs courtesy of the Park Service.

Here’s what you need to know about bringing your pup to the parks.

First things first: Dogs are, by and large, allowed in national parks. But there are rules intended to conserve the land, protect the wildlife and keep dogs safe. In all parks, dogs must be on leashes no longer than six feet, and picking up and disposing of pet excrement is a must. Then specific destinations may have their own rules. In Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks, dogs are largely restricted to developed car campgrounds and paved roads, while others, like White Sands, in New Mexico, have more areas open to dogs, though they must be leashed.

The Park Service website has a section dedicated to pet visitors, including a map that illustrates which parks allow dogs, and then most individual parks have sites with dedicated pet pages, offering the most reliable and current sources of information.

Danielle LaFleur and her husband, Brodin Ramsey, have been traveling with their dog, Chia, since March. They make a point to speak to park rangers on…

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