Pets

Visitors walking their dog along a park roadway.
The Endovalley Road is a nice place to walk your dog.

NPS/Biddle

Pets are prohibited on ALL Rocky Mountain National Park trails, tundra, and meadows.

Pets and owners have a special bond. But a national park is not always the best place for pets. Rocky Mountain National Park is a designated natural area, and its purpose is to preserve and protect the park's natural conditions, scenic beauty, and wildlife.

Where Pets Can Go

Leashed pets may accompany you only in the following areas:

  • Along established roads or in parking areas
  • In established campgrounds and picnic areas

Pets must be kept on leashes no longer than six feet. Pets may not make noise that impacts visitors or wildlife. Pet owners must pick up and dispose of pet excrement in trash receptacles.

Why Can't I Have My Dog on Trails?

  • Rocky is a wilderness. Your pet could become prey for wildlife like coyotes, mountain lions, bobcats, and Great Horned Owls.
  • Dogs are predators that can chase, scare, and transmit diseases. Dogs leave behind a ‘predator’ scent. This scent can linger, disrupting the native animals this park protects.
  • Dogs can bite humans, and some people are uncomfortable around dogs. Park visitors should be able to enjoy native wildlife in their natural environment without disruption from other visitors’ pets.
  • Pets may dig or trample fragile vegetation.

When Your Pet is Here, You Must Follow Park Rules

You may not leave your pet unattended in vehicles if it creates a danger to the animal or if the animal becomes a public nuisance. Pets may not be left tied to vehicles, tress, or other objects.

Pets, more than humans, are susceptible to overheating. Even in the mountains on mile days, temperatures inside vehicles rise quickly, and pets left in vehicles can overheat and die. A cracked windows provides little relief.

Doggy daycare, boarding facilities, and veterinary clinics are available in nearby communities.

Service Animals and Emotional Support Animals

Service animals that have been individually trained to perform specific tasks for the benefit of persons with disabilities are allowed in the park.

Emotional support/therapy animals are not service animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act and may not access trails or other non-motorized areas.

Pet owners violating park regulations may be cited, fined, and/or issued a mandatory appearance before the United States Magistrate Court in Denver.

 

Hiking Alternatives Outside Rocky Mountain National Park

If you'd like to hike with your pets, there are nearby trails outside Rocky Mountain National Park, including trails in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, multi-use trails around the Town of Estes Park, and Larimer County Open Space areas. Always check for local conditions.

Contact information for bordering National Forest districts

USFS Boulder Ranger District, Boulder 303 541-2500 www.fs.usda.gov/arp
USFS Canyon Lake Ranger District, Ft. Collins 970 295-6700
USFS Sulphur Ranger District, Granby 970 887-4100

East of Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Trailhead Location Distance One-Way (or Loop) Description Dog Etiquette
Buchanan Pass Trail West end of Camp Dick Campground, turnoff at Peaceful Valley, 24 miles south of Estes Park Red Deer Lake 6.9 mi
Buchanan Pass 9.1 mi
Trail parallels north side of the middle St. Vrain Creek. Many trail intersections. Dogs must be on leash no longer than 6 feet.
Crosier Mountain 3 trailheads near Glen Haven 3.9 miles from trailhead in downtown Glen Haven Panoramic views from the summit. Dogs can be off leash, but leashes recommended due to wildlife
Hermit Park 6 miles east of Estes Park on Hwy 36 2.5 miles of existing trail Great views. Fee required. Dogs must be on leash no longer than 6 feet.
Indian Peaks Wilderness Brainard Lake, 30 miles south of Estes Park Various, including Lake Isabelle (2 mi), Blue Lake (2.5 mi), Mt. Audobon (3.75 mi) Many spectacular lakes and peaks are accessed from this beautiful area. Fee required. Dogs must be on leash no longer than 6 feet in wilderness area.
Lake Estes Trail / Dog Park Trail has several starting points around the lake 3.75 miles Hard surfaced trail encircles Lake Estes. Dog park on Community Drive by the lake. Dogs must be on leash on the trail.
Lily Mountain Trailhead parking along Hwy 7, 6 mi south of Estes Park. This trail is not accessible from Lily Lake. 1.9 miles Panoramic views from summit. Elevation gain is 1,006 feet. Dogs may be off leash but must be under voice control and not harass wildlife or hikers.
Lion Gulch / Homestead Meadows 8 mi east of Estes Park on Hwy 36. 3.4 miles Trail accesses a historic area where eight homesteads were established 1889–1923 Dogs may be off leash but must be under voice control and not harass wildlife or hikers.

West of Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail Trailhead Location Distance One-Way (or Loop) Description Dog Etiquette
Cascade Mountain, Bowen Pass, Bowen Lake Loop US Hwy 34 to County Rd 4. Take County Rd 4 for 3 miles. Turn right at fork/FSR 120 to the North Supply Trailhead. 15 mile loop. Bowen Lake is 4 miles one-way from trailhead. Trail begins as ATV-accessible road. Several small stream crossings. Great views. Dogs must be on leash no longer than 6 feet in wilderness area.
Grand Lake Recreation District's Colorado River Trail by the Grand Lake Gold Course/Nordic Center US Hwy 34 to County Rd 48/Golf Course Rd (just north of Grand Lake). Turn west and go 1 mile to parking on left at trailhead. Their Colorado River Trail (summer) is 5.2 miles round-trip plus some smaller connecting trails. Winter's Way dog trails (winter) is 5.5 mi/4 km. Summer scenic picnic area and loop by Colorado River at the end fo the trail. Winter's Way dog trails are easy trails. Dogs may be under voice control if they play well with others. In winter, dogs must stay on designated dog trails. There is a lot of wildlife in the area including moose.
Indian Peaks Wilderness US Hwy 34 to County Rd 6/Forest Servicee Road 125/Arapaho Bay Road. Follow this road for 10 miles east to the Monarch Lake parking area. Access beautiful lakes and peaks, including the Monarch Lake Loop Trail (4 mi), Crater Lake (7.25 mi). Easy loop around Monarch Lake is popular year-round. The jagged and spectacular Indian Peaks predominate. Fee required. Dogs must be on leash no longer than 6 feet in wilderness area.

Last updated: July 18, 2017

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

1000 US Hwy 36
Estes Park, CO 80517

Phone:

(970) 586-1206
General park questions: (970) 586-1206. Recorded Trail Ridge Road status: (970)586-1222.

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