In 2016, the National Park Service celebrates its 100th birthday! To celebrate, the NPS will offer free admission on 16 days throughout the year. Here are the 2016 Free Admission Dates:
- January 18th (Martin Luther King Jr. Day)
- April 16-24 (National Park Week)
- August 25-28 (National Park Service’s 100th Birthday)
- September 24th (National Public Lands Day)
- November 11th (Veterans Day)
For dog lovers, visiting the national parks can be difficult due to tight restrictions. We looked into the most dog-friendly national parks and summarized their policies below, so that you and your best friend can get out there and celebrate America’s Best Idea!
- Acadia National Park: Acadia was the first National Park on the east coast, encompassing rugged coastal Maine and the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast (Cadillac Mountain). Acadia National Park allows pets (on-leash) on 100 miles of trails and 45 miles of carriage roads, as well as in its Blackwoods, Seawall, and Schoodic Woods campgrounds.
- Grand Canyon National Park: The park is bisected by the mile-deep Grand Canyon carved out by the Colorado River, attracting hikers, backpackers, sunset-chasers, rafting groups, and more. Grand Canyon National Park permits leashed-pets above the rim and at Mather Campground, Desert View Campground, Trailer Village throughout the developed areas. Service animals are permitted below the rim (but you must check in first at the Backcountry Information Center).
- Zion National Park: Zion is Utah’s first national park, and it’s home to sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red, paths created by ancient natives, and a unique variety of plants and animals. Zion allows leashed pets on Pa’rus Trail and in the developed campgrounds and picnic areas, and on the grounds of the Zion Lodge.
- Yosemite National Park: Established in 1864, Yosemite National Park is a wonderland of granite domes and towering waterfalls. It’s inspired legendary American figures like John Muir and Ansel Adams. Yosemite allows leashed dogs in all of its developed areas and on paved trails, roads, sidewalks, bicycle paths. Dogs are also allowed in the campgrounds (except Camp 4), on the Wawona Meadow Loop, and on the Four Mile and Eleven Mile fire roads.
- Mammoth Cave National Park: The park is located in the Green River valley of south central Kentucky, housing the world’s longest known cave system (over 400 miles). Leashed dogs are permitted in the park, except for inside the caves, and in the Woodland Cottages. Service animals are permitted both in the caves and in hotel guest rooms.
- Shenandoah National Park: Just 75 miles from Washington, D.C., the park includes 200,00 acres of woods, hills, cascading waterfalls, and wildlife. Shenandoah is one of the few national parks that allow dogs on the trails. Dogs are required to be on leash, but are permitted on most trails, in campgrounds and in pet-friendly lodging. There are a handful of trails that prohibit pets, so be sure to check before planning your trip.
- North Cascades National Park: North Cascades offers jagged granite peaks, more than 300 glaciers, and deep valleys. Leashed pets are allowed on the Pacific Crest Trail, on the Ross Lake and Chelan National Recreation Areas, and in the surrounding national forest lands.
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Located near Cleveland, along the historic Ohio & Erie Canal, Cuyahoga offers rolling hills, deep forests, and native plants and wildlife. The park allows pets on leash to access 110 miles of hiking trails, 20 miles of the Towpath Trail, and the Stanford Campground.
- Badlands National Park: 244,000 acres of geological deposits contains one of the world’s richest fossil beds. Once the home of saber-tooth cats, the park now hosts bison, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets. Leashed dogs are allowed in developed areas, such as paved picnic areas, campgrounds, paved and gravel roadways. Dogs are also allowed on the trails at the nearby Buffalo Gap National Grassland.
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Home to 415 square miles of spectacular mountains, lakes, wildflowers, and wildlife, Rocky Mountain National Park contains over 300 miles of hiking trails. The park allows dogs (on leash) in developed areas, including picnic areas and campgrounds, on Endovalley Road, and on trails in the adjacent national forest lands.
Keep in mind that the National Parks are some of America’s most visited (and therefore busiest) protected wild places. When planning your trip, please respect the rules – They’re in place to protect the native plants and wildlife and to preserve the park for everyone’s enjoyment. If you want to venture into the backcountry, many parks have kennels within the park itself or in the nearby vicinity. Check your park’s website for all the details and most up-to-date information!