Pets in the Parks and Backcountry
This page presents some basic information and suggestions on dealing with pets in our national parks and monuments, and in the backcountry in general.
Dogs are best left at home, especially if you want to see wildlife. But if you do bring your pet, please consider the following restrictions. Because our public lands are for multiple use, it is very important that all visitors work together to preserve these spaces. Recreational users have a special responsibility to employ minimum impact practices while enjoying the forests and deserts. In general, pets (except for guide dogs and hearing ear dogs) are prohibited from:
- entering national park or monument buildings (including visitor centers);
- ranger-led activities;
- using trails, beaches, and snow fields; and,
- all backcountry areas.
In those instances where they are allowed on trails, they must be kept on a leash at all times.
Pet regulations are strictly enforced. Pet owners must assume complete responsibility for their pets.
- Pets frighten wildlife and may disturb hikers. They must be on a short leash (maximum length six feet) at all times and kept under physical control. Do not allow let them to chase wildlife.
- No pets are allowed in archaeological sites. They may damage sites by digging, urinating, and defecating. They can destroy fragile cultural deposits.
- In some parks leashed pets are restricted to specific campgrounds.
- Boarding kennels and stables are often available in the gateway communities.
- Control excessive barking, especially in campgrounds.
- Within most parks and monuments, horses, mules, and livestock are prohibited on all trails.
- Do not leave animals unattended, especially in a vehicle during warm weather. Summer heat can be intense and reach temperatures of 160 degrees F. within a closed vehicle. Pets left in vehicles—even for a short time—can suffer heat stroke and die.
- Pet owners are responsible for cleaning up pet litter and depositing it in garbage cans.
- Oleander is a toxic plant common to some developed areas. You or your pet should not eat plant parts or drink water from ditches where oleander grows.
- Check paws often. Rocky terrain causes cuts and splits.
- Report inappropriate behavior to the proper authorities.
- See also Encountering Wild Animals.
Backcountry Ethics and Practices
Ethics and low impact camping.
Outdoor gear for dogs.
Dogs in the Backcountry
A discussion board on dogs in the backcountry.
Leave No Trace
Teaches people of all ages how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly,
Promotes responsible outdoor recreation through ethics education and stewardship programs.
More Outside Links