Be a Big South Fork BARK Ranger

Do you like exploring Big South Fork with your canine friend? If so, stop by Bandy Creek Visitor Center to pick up a copy of an activity checklist and learn more about Big South Fork’s BARK Ranger program.

The BARK Ranger program teaches dog owners about the importance of following the Rules of B.A.R.K. while visiting Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area. Dogs completing this short program can be sworn in as BARK Rangers and their owners will be eligible to earn a special BARK Ranger collar tag at the visitor center.
BISO Bark Ranger Card Stacked
Big South Fork BARK Ranger Rack Card


Rules of B.A.R.K.

B = Bag Your Poop
Help keep Big South Fork clean by collecting and disposing of all dog waste. Be sure to carry the poop bag off the trail. Do not throw them into the woods or hang from trees. Public garbage cans are located throughout the park.

Dog feces is not a natural fertilizer. Dogs can carry disease such as parvovirus, giardia and roundworms into the park's wildlife populations. Water sources may also be polluted by dog feces.

A = Always Wear a Leash
Pets must be restrained on a leash no longer than 6 feet (2 m); retractable leashes extended beyond this limit are prohibited.

Leashes protect dogs from becoming lost and from wildlife.

Not everyone is a dog person no matter how friendly and well behaved your dog may be. Dog friendly areas are a privilege would could be lost if leash regulations are not followed.

Many people, adults and children, are frightened by dogs, even small ones. Uncontrolled dogs can present a danger to other visitors. Leashes also protect the experience of other visitors who may be afraid, allergic, or who do not want a dog approaching them.

Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can disturb even the calmest, friendliest, and best-trained dog, causing them to behave unpredictably or bark excessively.

R = Respect Wildlife
Dogs can chase and threaten wildlife, scaring birds and other animals away from nesting, feeding, and resting sites.

The scent left behind by a dog can signal the presence of a predator, disrupting or altering the behavior of park wildlife. Small animals may hide in their burrow the entire day after smelling a dog and may not venture out to feed.

Please keep your dog at a respectful distance from any animals you may encounter.

K = Know Where To Go
Pets should not be left unattended. Summer sunshine poses a threat to pets in vehicles. Don't leave pets alone in a car while hiking. Choose another hike or come back another day.

Pets are permitted on all park roads, trails, and campgrounds.

The following areas are closed or restricted to pets with the exception of service animals:
  • All public buildings, including visitor center
  • Ranger-led programs (unless indicated otherwise)

Remember, you are taking your pet into a different environment and you are responsible for your pet. Do you have enough water for yourself and your pet? Does your pet have the endurance (and paw pads) to hike the trail you have chosen? Have you considered your pet in all of your preparations? Nearly every summer weekend park rangers and rescue personnel face numerous carry-outs when hikers are injured or become ill. It's the job of all staff to keep visitors and the park safe. If your pet becomes disabled on the trail, what will you do? With a little preparation, you and your pet can have an enjoyable trip while at Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area.
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4 minutes, 5 seconds

This video features some tips on how to enjoy your time in the park with your dog.

Last updated: January 26, 2022

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