Dog with two hikers at trailhead
Dog and hikers at a trailhead.

T. Fondriest

Pets are welcome at Buffalo National River, but there are many restrictions for the safety of the park resources, wildlife, and other visitors. All park trails are closed to pets with the exception of the Buffalo River Trail, only on the section of trail between Ponca and Steel Creek, the Villines Homestead Trail at Ponca, the Mill Creek Trail, the Tyler Bend Campground trails (Spring Hollow, Buck Ridge, and Rock Wall in the Middle District), and all three Buffalo Point Campground trails (Forest Trail, Overlook Trail, and Campground Trail in the Lower District). Visit the park's hiking page for more infomation and maps of these trails.

Pets are allowed in all campgrounds, on the river, and on the gravel bars, but must be under physical control at all times. Documented service animals are an exception to most pet restrictions and are allowed on trails and in public buildings. Service animals must be kept under physical restraint at all times.

  • Pets are not allowed in any government buildings, caves, or on most park trails.
  • Pets are not allowed within designated wilderness areas with the exception of gravel bars along the river corridor.
  • Leashed pets are permitted in the campgrounds and on gravel bars within 100 feet from the water's edge.
  • Pets may not be left unattended. Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can disturb even the calmest, friendliest, and best-trained dog, causing them to behave unpredictably or bark excessively.
  • Pet excrement must be collected by pet owners, and disposed of in trash receptacles.
  • Chase for pleasure and dog training are not allowed.
Little dog in river
Dog wading in Buffalo River.

T. Fondriest

Floating With Your Dog

You are welcome to float and enjoy the river with your dog. Dogs make great boat buddies, but there are some things to take into consideration before you get on the water.

  • Ticks, chiggers, and snakes live in the park. Keep the interaction between these park inhabitants and your pet to a minimum by keeping your dog out of any tall vegetation.
  • Know your dog and their abilities, temperment, and level of stamina. A hot summer day on the river can be draining on people and pets. Know your limits.
Beagle riding on kayak
Dog floating on a kayak.

NPS Photo

  • A life jacket for your dog is a great idea in case you capsize (do not tie your dog to your boat). Even though dogs can swim a life jacket can make it much easier to retrieve your dog in the event of an accident. If you become separated from your dog on the river call the park's 24-hour dispatch at 1-888-692-1162 to make a report.
  • Respect wildlife and other visitors. Remember that when you get out on a gravel bar or access point your dog needs to be leashed in order to protect them, other visitors, and wildlife.
  • Please pick up after your pet. This limits the exposure and spread of potential diseases and keeps our river corridor clean.

Visit the NPS Pets page here and learn about other opportunities you and your dog can embark upon in some of our other wonderful National Parks!


Things to Do with Your Pet

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    Tags: pets

    Last updated: April 22, 2023

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