National Parks are one of the United States’ greatest treasures, and keeping them protected is what helps them stay beautiful and pristine for generations to come. Unfortunately, that means there are some pretty strict policies on dogs and where they are allowed to be. Following the rules does not always mean you have to leave your furry buddy at home; with research and preparation, you can still take your dog to explore the nation’s parks. In this article, I would like to share the places we have found and enjoyed with our dog in some of the national parks near Northern California, and show you the places where your pal is allowed to go. Please note that I will not be sharing a list of places where they are not allowed, and I encourage you to research heavily where they cannot be before going to any national park with your dog.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
With giant mountains made of granite to powerful roaring waterfalls, these incredible views make it easy to see why Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular parks (with roughly four million visitors a year.) With a park this large, it’s easy to be discouraged by how little your pet is allowed to see. But, there are quite a few places where they are allowed to go compared with other parks — one of them being Glacier Point.
This lookout is located before you even get to the official Tunnel View lookout with the iconic view of El Capitan and Half Dome. You will take Tioga road for a few miles and follow the signs for Glacier Point lookout. While dogs are not allowed to hike the glacier point trail from Yosemite Valley, you and your pet can enjoy the stunning pay off as if you did the 4-mile hike without leaving your car! This lookout has a bird’s eye view of the entire valley with Half Dome front and center making you feel as if you could reach out and touch it. A short walk on a paved trail, and you and your dog can take a front seat with a panorama of Yosemite. There are a few walking paths that lead to several vantage points, and amazing opportunities to snap a fur family photo or munch on treats and sandwiches at the amphitheater! One con to this location is that because of its ease of access, it tends to be highly populated during the late spring, summer, and early fall, which means lots of pups are around.
As I mentioned earlier, the Tunnel View is probably the picture you see most often when you think of Yosemite, like the classic MacBook background image with two enormous blocks of granite protruding from the earth with waterfalls pouring over them and evergreens quaking in the wind. Shortly after you have passed the park entrance, you drive through the half-mile long tunnel and are greeted with an unbelievable view. With a small parking lot available, you and your pup can enjoy this scene together with hundreds of others! I highly recommend this particular spot at sunset.
COOK’S MEADOW LOOP
The wood bridge walkway through luscious marshlands provides a totally different perspective as opposed to the previously mentioned lookouts. Here you are standing beneath and looking up at the wonderful walls of rock as you stand in groves of aspens. Nothing will make you feel smaller and more appreciative of the work people put into maintaining sanctuary, which is why it is incredibly important that you and your four-legged pals stay on the paths at all times. This smaller loop in the middle of the valley floor leads you through lovely meadows, views of wildlife, waterfalls, and even a bridge over the Merced River!
Here’s another short list from National Park Paws with additional dog-friendly destinations:
- Wawona Meadow Loop Trail and Chowchilla Mountain Road in Wawona
- Hodgdon Meadow on the Carlon Roa, and the Old Big Oak Flat Road between Hodgdon Meadow and Hazel Green Creek
- Bridalveil Fall
- Lower Yosemite Fall
- Mirror Lake Trail
- Sequoia Kings National Park
Where do you and your pup enjoy the outdoors? Tell us your favorite destinations in the comments!
Hey there! I’m Haylee! I recently graduated from college with my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I am currently working with my husband at his family business, a collision repair company. In my free time I love to go hiking, camping, and do graphic design work. Denver, my female English Springer Spaniel, runs my husband and I’s life! Keeping her entertained is my other full-time job and it’s a complete joy.