I Didn't Know That!: Hiking with Pets

I Didn't Know That! Hiking with Pets

Did you know that some parks are pet-friendly? Some national parks even welcome pets on trails. What could be better than visiting your favorite place with your favorite friend? But not all parks are the same - always check with your park before you visit to learn where you are allowed to hike with your pet.

Two visitors walk a leashed brown and white dog along Cache Valley Road on a bright sunny day. The beige road is unpaved and lined with various shrubs. In the distance rock features line the valley, and clouds are visible in the blue sky.

NPS Photo / Veronica Verdin

What You Can Do

Before you hit the trail, make sure your pet is in good health, has trail manners, and is fit enough to endure the hike. A long and busy trail can be overwhelming for a dog, especially if there are lots of new scents to explore. Always keep your dog on a leash and away from wildlife. Remember: you are responsible for your pet’s safety. Be prepared. Just like you, your pet will have needs on the trail. Bring extra water and light snacks for your furry friend. Watch for signs of overheating – excessive panting, drooling, or vomiting – and give your pet a break if they need it. They’ll enjoy having a refreshing treat with you mid-hike. And don’t forget to Leave No Trace and clean up after your pet. Visit the Trails & Hiking website for more tips on hiking and hiking with pets.

Be a B.A.R.K. Ranger

Does your dog have what it takes to be a B.A.R.K. Ranger? Learn the B.A.R.K principles so you and your pet can have a safe and fun visit any time you visit a national park. Then visit a park, take the pledge, and get a badge.

  • Bag your pet’s waste. - No one wants to hike on a trail littered with dog poop. Plus, pet waste can introduce harmful bacteria into fresh water sources or pass diseases to wildlife. Use Leave No Trace principles and pick up after your pet and dispose of the waste.
  • Always use a leash. - Even a well-behaved dog can get excited when visiting our national parks. Always keep your dog on a 6-foot leash. Do your part to keep yourself, your animal, and other hikers safe.
  • Respect wildlife. - Keep your pets away from wildlife. They could startle or provoke animals, resulting in injury. Our domestic pets also are also at risk of getting or giving diseases to wildlife.
  • Know where you can go. - Dogs are welcome on many trails, but always check with your park for areas that are off-limits to pets.
An infographic showing with tips on Hiking with Pets. Full text description available below image

Pass It On!

Did you learn something new? Pass it on! Protecting our parks is a job for us all, but there's no way for everyone to be an expert in everything. That's why sharing knowledge is so important! The next time you see a fellow pet-owner with improper “petiquette” you can fill them in and assure them it’s ok to admit - “I didn’t know that!”

Download or screenshot this card to share with a friend or help you remember how to hike with pets like a pro. Thank you for helping to protect our pets and our parks.

Check out other I Didn't Know That! topics.

Text description for I Didn't Know That! Hiking with Pets graphic.

Did you know there are pet-friendly parks? Always check with your park before you visit to see where you can bring your pet.

Make sure you and your pet are prepared for the hike.Is your pet fit enough? Well trained? Bring extra water and snacks. You are responsible for the safety of your pet!

Be a B.A.R.K. Ranger!

  • Bag your pet's waste.
  • Always use a leash.
  • Respect wildlife.
  • Know where you can go.

Last updated: December 1, 2023