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Top 10 Dog Friendly National Parks

Nothing say summertime fun like a road trip! If you like to enjoy the great outdoors, then U.S. national parks are great destinations for the whole family. But what about the family dog? Can man's best friend tag along on your vacation? The answer is yes, but only if you plan ahead.

Most national parks are not dog friendly, but a few of them offer plenty of fun for you and your furry best friend. Check out our picks for the top 10 dog friendly national parks.

1. Acadia National Park
Located on the scenic coast of Maine, the Acadia National Park is the ultimate combination of natural beauty and family fun. You and your dog can enjoy 120 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads, many of which offer stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Dogs are not allowed on swimming beaches or ladder hiking trails, but you won't mind because there are plenty of trails where you and your dog can enjoy a day in the sun. If you prefer a short hike, then check out the Jordan Pond Nature Trail. It's a two mile loop with breathtaking views of glacial mountains and ponds.

2. Cuyahoga Valley National Park
This lesser known national park features 125 miles of hiking trails through meadows, forests, and wetlands. The best part about this park? All of its hiking trails are dog friendly! The Tinkers Creek Gorge Area is a must see, and a 5 mile trail gives you access to this magnificent canyon.

If you and your pooch are up for some hardcore hiking, then you need to check out the Buckeye Trail. It circles the entire state of Ohio for over 1200 miles! But you better be up for a challenge; 33 miles of this challenging trail wander up and down the ridges and ravines of the Cuyahoga Valley.

3. Great Sand Dunes National Park
Head east to Virginia to explore the splendors of this scenic getaway. Shenandoah is considered one of the most dog friendly national parks in the country. Dogs are even allowed in the campgrounds and some of the local lodging!

The sand dunes are the best feature of this national park, and your dog will love cooling off in Medano Creek. But the terrain is not limited to the dunes; this park also has wetlands, grasslands, forests, and tundra. If you and your pup enjoy wildflowers and bird watching, be sure to check out the Mosca Pass Trail.

4. Shenandoah National Park
Head east to Virginia to explore the splendors of this scenic getaway. Shenandoah is considered one of the most dog friendly national parks in the country. Dogs are even allowed in the campgrounds and some of the local lodging!

The Shenandoah National Park is set in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which are the oldest rocks on earth. 500 miles of hiking trails give you ample opportunities for exploration, and your dog is welcome on all of them but a few that have rock climbs or difficult passages. If you love streams, waterfalls, and cascades, check out the Boundary Trailhead and the Rose River Loop Trail.

5. Yosemite National Park
For nature lovers, Yosemite has it all: spectacular granite cliffs, giant sequoia groves, biological diversity, clear streams, and waterfalls. Your dog is welcome on the park's sidewalks, bike paths, and roads, and if you leash him, he is even welcome in most of the park's campgrounds.

The Yosemite Valley is the favorite destination of most park visitors, and dogs are allowed on approximately 2 miles of paved trails on the floor of the valley. You will be amazed at the cliffs and waterfalls that are visible from the paved trails. The famous landmarks include El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.

6. Grand Canyon National Park
The Grand Canyon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and it's on everybody's bucket list. Dogs are allowed throughout the park's developed areas and on the trail above the rim of the canyon, which is 13 miles long and easy to navigate.

If you want to head to the bottom of the canyon, stick to the North Kaibab Trail. Pets are welcome on the bridle path that connects the park's lodge to this trail, and frequent rest stops will give you plenty of opportunities to stretch and relax. Dogs are not allowed in the park hotel rooms or on the park buses, but you can find a kennel located at the south rim of the canyon.

7. Mammoth Cave National Park
Located in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, this park boasts the longest known cave system in the world. While the underground passages are off limits to dogs, the park has 70 miles of trails above ground that are dog friendly.

This park offers trails of varying lengths and difficulty, so you can choose to go for a leisurely stroll or a strenuous hike. If you prefer to take it easy, check out the Green River Bluffs Trail. Snaking through thick woods, this trail leads to a high point with a stunning view of the Green River.

8. Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs features more than 30 miles of top-notch, dog friendly hiking trails, most of which connect the Hot Springs Mountain and West Mountain on the outskirts of the city. The trails were originally built for carriages, and you will find that they are still wider than most hiking trails today.

Though the mountains of Hot Springs are small, barely more than 1000 feet, climbing them will give you a workout. When you and your dog are ready to relax, climb aboard a Duck Boat for a drive south of town and a cruise on Lake Hamilton. Your dog is welcome on the top deck of the boat!

9. Rocky Mountain National Park
The Rocky Mountains offer majestic mountain views, wooded forests, and the chance to see a variety of wildlife. Leashed dogs are welcome in campgrounds and picnic areas, but banned from hiking trails and the backcountry.

This park features many of the country's highest mountains, as well as the Continental Divide and the headwaters of the Colorado River. The park's lower elevations offer wetlands and wildlife viewing opportunities; higher elevations have evergreen forests and high mountain lakes. The highest elevations have one of the earth's most extreme environments, alpine tundra.

10. Badlands National Park
Located in South Dakota, this park allows leashed pets on paved and gravel roads, as well as developed areas, including campgrounds. Off limits to dogs are trails, public buildings, and backcountry areas, including the Badlands Wilderness Area.

Badlands National Park boasts the largest protected mixed grass prairie in the country. Stunning topography is the park's best feature, and you won't want to miss its sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles, and spires.

Planning Your Trip
No summer season is complete without a road trip, and one of America's national parks can be a fun and affordable destination for your family. But if you can't bear to leave your dog out of your vacation plans, you have to choose your destination wisely. National parks offer endless opportunities to experience nature and wildlife, but most of them are off limits to dogs. Plan ahead by choosing your vacation spot from our Top 10 list; pack up your dog and go explore the country!

Author Bio:
Donna is a contributor to My Bones and Biscuits, a website dedicated to the adorable things dogs do and all the reasons we love our four-legged friends. For funny dog videos, product reviews, and in-depth articles on the relationship between dogs and humans, visit My Bones and Biscuits.

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