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  • Writer's pictureJamie R.

Pets in Parks: 6 Helpful Tips for Camping and Hiking with Your Dog

What to know before bringing your furry friend on your next outdoor trip

A majestic golden brown labradoodle perched on the brilliantly colored striated rocks of Red Rock Canyon, just outside Las Vegas, Nevada

Lucy The Doodle in Red Rock Canyon, NV - Photo Credit: Jamie Rees


We love dogs here at Pathloom - our dogs, your dogs, any dogs! Most parks are more than happy to welcome yourself and your furry friends in developed areas, but there are certainly some things to keep in mind when planning your trip. Rules and regulation vary depending on your destination, so it’s always a good idea to check the Park’s website before heading out. Here are some useful tips for you and your fuzzy buddy wherever you end up - accompanied by some of our favorite good boys and good girls submitted by the Pathloom community!

Want to show off your dog too? Send us a photo with location and your dog's name to and we may feature your pup in a future article!

The best dog in the world (not biased at all), Milo is a pit bull / boxer mix waiting patiently for his Dad to follow him through a trail in Green Mountains National Forest in southern Vermont

Milo in Green Mountain National Forest, VT - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

Packing for a Pet

When embarking on an outdoor adventure with your pet, it is just as important to prepare for their needs as it is to prepare for your own. When traveling with pets, it is a good idea to keep a copy of vaccination records, or any important documents that pertain to your furry friend’s health. In addition to these, don’t forget to carry a recent picture of your pet - if you're anything like us you may have one or two (thousand) on your phone, and this can be very helpful in case your pet gets lost or separated from you! Since leashes are required in all National Parks and most public places as well, this means your pet will need to wear a collar at all times. The collar should have accurate tags and contact information, again in case they wander away from you.

Butters the poofy poodle-esque mutt sitting patiently on the shores of Whitefish Lake near Great Falls, Montana. His rump is fluffy and magnificent

Butters in Whitefish Lake State Park, MT - Photo Credit: Matt Bobbitt

Pet Admission

Most National Parks allow pets in common areas, campsites and paved roads (though keep in mind many prohibit them in less developed areas). Some even have unique features to offer for them, such as the B.A.R.K Rangers Program. The National Park Service offers a map that shows which parks allow pets, as well as the few that do not. With this map, you can select the park you plan on bringing your furry friend to, which will direct you to the specific pet rules and regulations for that park.

If you’re looking for a special day to spend with your pet, the National Park Service also offers a “Things To Do” Bulletin for unique pet events at the Parks!

Maisie is a shaggy dog, soaked by the waters of Lake Tahoe as she wades out for a swim

Maisie in Lake Tahoe, CA - Photo Credit: Megan Shapanka

Convenience is Key

While you’re out on approved trails with your pet, you’ll have to pack some extra items in addition to your normal solo travel bag. It is essential to keep your pets on a leash during your entire visit to a National Park. For more experienced dogs, we recommend this amazing retractable leash that compacts into the collar - ideal for steep slopes or climbs that you may face, where dragging a leash may be dangerous.

Nourishment is important to energy levels in order to have a happy, healthy hike. Collapsible silicone bowls are a very simple option that can clip onto the strap of your backpack. These bowls can be used for water, or to provide some pre-packed food in a fast and space-efficient way. Another option is this water bottle, which allows you to keep your pet hydrated without wasting water after they’ve quenched their thirst.

A common preparation for hikers is to have first aid materials on hand in case of emergency, and this extends to pets as well. This pet first aid kit is veterinary certified, and can even strap onto your pet’s harness to prevent additional weight on your own pack.

A fluffy white dog named Yogi follows his best friend down a shallow creek that serves as a hiking trail through Angeles National Forest, just outside Los Angeles, California

Yogi in Angeles National Forest, CA - Photo Credit: Nicc Peralta

Always clean up after your pet

A small pet disposal bag holder is easy to clip right next to the silicon bowls, or onto the leash itself. These are helpful to have on the go, but disposal of used bags is of the utmost importance - it should be done properly, without exception, with the rest of your trash in the designated dumping areas. Leaving used bags along the trails can be harmful for wildlife and disruptive to the environment, and makes for a less pleasant experience for the visitors who follow.

A friendly brindle pit bull named Sampson strikes a glorious pose among the scrub brush atop a hill in Santa Clarita Woodlands Park in California

Sampson in Santa Clarita Woodlands Park, CA - Photo Credit: Tom Wentworth

Personal Pet Needs

Remember that different terrains can require different equipment for your furry friend. If you’re planning on visiting rough terrain, look into some dog booties to protect their paws from damage (There’s the added bonus here of watching their first try-on for some wholesome humor!) If you have an energetic dog, remember to bring some toys to keep them busy during the travel time in the car.

Kal-El the black pitbull with a white stripe down his nose smiles for the camera as he stands on the shoreline of beautiful crystal blue Crater Lake in Oregon.

Kal-El in Crater Lake National Park, OR - Photo Credit: Paul Engel

Pet Best Practices

With pets as with humans, Leave No Trace principles apply, so it’s important to leave the space you’re in just how you left it. The National Park Service encourages campers and their furry friends to follow these principles with the previously mentioned “B.A.R.K Ranger” program, which outlines simple responsibilities for pet owners - like bagging your pet’s waste, always keeping your pet on a leash, respecting wildlife, and knowing where you’re permitted to take your buddy. Remember, failure to comply with park pet policy can result in fines or tickets!

Some parks, like Indiana Dunes National Park offer the opportunity for your pup to become a “B.A.R.K Ranger Ambassador” through volunteer programs to advocate for these best practices to fellow hikers and fur babies.

For our RV explorers, our friends over at compiled a great list of tips for traveling with your pets from a panel of experts on the subject (including us!) Check it out here!

S'mores the shaggy maltese - poodle - shih tzu desperately tries to escape the cold climate of Bryce Canyon National Park by poking his head inside a tent

CampDog S'mores in Bryce Canyon National Park, UT - Photo Credit: Bryan Donoghue

With the right preparation, bringing your pet with you on adventures can be seamless and stress-free. The Outdoors is for everyone - even your furry friends!

For more great tips on getting outdoors with your dog, check out our partner (and fellow Moosejaw Accelerator graduate!) Spruce Pup's "DOG BLOG!"

For a quick and easy state-by-state rundown of pet ownership laws, check out this handy guide by our friends at!


Jamie Rees is a Las Vegas native currently pursuing a Journalism degree at UNLV. Look for more of Jamie's writing in the Pathloom blog in the coming weeks!


Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. In exchange for referring sales, we may receive a small commission . This comes at no extra cost to you, and helps us pay our bills without cluttering up our content with ads.


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