Pets are welcome in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. If you are planning to visit with your pet, you will need to make a few special considerations.
The park is home to all kinds of animals, big and small. Because the park is their home and we and our pets are the visitors, regulations are in place to minimize our impacts on wildlife.
When in the park, pets should always be leashed when not otherwise contained in a vehicle or tent. To maintain proper control, leashes should be 6 feet or shorter. Be aware that dogs can agitate bison, horses, and other animals, creating unsafe situations. Maintain extra distance from wildlife when enjoying the park with your dog. Never leave pets unattended.
Where can I walk my Dog?
Leashed pets may be walked along roads and road shoulders, sidewalks, parking areas, and in campgrounds and picnic areas. The sidewalk at the Painted Canyon Visitor Center (I-94, exit 32) is a good place to walk dogs and has fantastic views of the badlands all along the way. Be sure to clean up after your pet.
Helpful hint: On hot days, the best places to walk pets are campgrounds and picnic areas where there is shade. Other areas of the park are fully exposed to the sun.
Hiking with Your Dog (outside the park)
While dogs are not permitted on trails within the park, there are nearby trails where you can take your dogs for some exercise.
In Medora, a paved path leads from the park's entrance, west along the little Missouri River to the Maah Daah Hey Trail. The paved path is about 1 mile long (one-way).
The Maah Daah Hey Trail (MDHT) is a 150 mile long path open to horseback riders, hikers, mountain bikers, and PETS! (Pets and bikes are not permitted on sections of the MDHT that lie within the national park.) You and your dog can hike south on the MDHT where the bike path ends, west of Medora, or pick up the trail from one of many other trailheads.
Near the park's North Unit, the USFS CCC Campground has access to the MDHT and the Long X Trail, both open to pets.
What better way to see the badlands than from the back of a horse, as Roosevelt did?
Horseback riding is permitted on all backcountry trails as well as cross country (off-trail travel). For safety reasons, horses are not permitted on nature trails (trails under 1 mile), or in general-use campgrounds and picnic areas. Roundup Group Horse Camp is available by reservation. Horse users can camp in the backcountry, which requires a free permit.
Horseback riders must abide by regulations regarding horse use. Certified weed-free forage is required in the park.
The park no longer offers guided trail rides.