If you and your dog are inseparable, don't let the National Park System's pet rules stop you from taking a dog-centric vacation to our national treasures.
A growing assortment of pet sitters, upscale boarding facilities and dog-friendly people hotels are making it possible for pets and humans to have unforgettable adventures in and around popular national parks. To get your trip planning started, here's a short list of great pet care services near national parks in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and Utah.
Leashed dogs can visit Denali, but they're limited to walking on paved surfaces other than the Roadside Trail and the Bike Path. When you want to experience the heart of Denali, drive just seven miles outside the park and check your pup into Tonglen Lake Canine Resort & Kennels, the only dog boarding in the vicinity. More than just a kennel, Tonglen Lake offers grooming, training and massage along with upscale boarding and individual or group play in a 60' by 100' arena, starting at $26.50 per day.
Oregon: Crater Lake National Park
Crater Lake National Park gives dogs and people a few more recreation options than other parks. For example, both pets and people can enjoy spectacular lake views on the paved Rim Village promenade walkway and also are allowed on four different area hiking trails. Whether you're camping in a Crater Lake campground or staying at a pet-friendly motel near the park, Snaggle Foot Dog Walks and Pet Care proprietor Jamie Lesko will give you the freedom to explore the park while she or one of her 10 pet care associates stay with Rover. This licensed, bonded, and insured pet care provider can help with same day notice. Snaggle Foot's service area includes the entire southern Oregon region with rates starting at $10 per hour.
Washington: Olympic National Park
Leashed dogs have freedom to roam at Olympic National Park, which features several spectacular pet-friendly beaches and trails. But with over 922,000 acres of hiking and backpacking options, your visit wouldn't be complete without deeper exploration into sensitive areas that don't allow dogs, such as the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the best examples of temperate rain forests in North America. To have the best of both worlds, drive to the town of Forks and stay at the adorable Haags Cottage, which allows well-mannered canines. When you want to go hiking, your hostess Diana can provide pet sitting services as long as you make advance reservations.
California: Yosemite National Park
Visitors to Yosemite National Park can enjoy a handful of the park's most famous sights from paved walking trails that allow dogs, as well as a few obscure pet-friendly trails, such as Wawona Meadow Loop. But for visitors who really want to get acquainted with Yosemite's fragile ecosystem where dogs aren't allowed, the loving care of Ruff-Inn-It Dog Boarding is ready to help. Owner Mandy is a life-long dog lover, stay-at-home mom, and former animal shelter worker who provides dog boarding services at her 1.5-acre fenced property located 50 minutes from the park. Mandy can handle last-minute requests, but prefers at least two days' notice. Rates start at $25 per day; she can be reached through DogVacay.com, a web-based service that connects freelance dog sitters with pet parents.
Utah: Five Parks, Many Options
Utah is a dog lover's destination. With five national parks and a select group of quality dog care providers near all of them, it's easy to take solo trips into the national parks and enjoy hiking time with your dog in more pet-friendly recreation areas just beyond NPS boundaries ' all in one epic vacation.
Start by making the rugged pet-friendly town of Moab your first base camp. Arches and Canyonlands National Parks are both located minutes from town where Karen's K9 Campground is equipped to care for your dog by the day or overnight. Owned and managed since 1978 by the founder of the Moab Humane Society, Karen says that her 'Doggie Disneyland' gets rave reviews because of its numerous wading pools, shady play areas and air-conditioned kennels for dogs of all breeds and sizes. Day care starts at $25 and discounts are given for multiple pets. Reservations are strongly advised.
As you can see, with a little creative planning it's entirely possible to experience America's best national parks with your favorite canine companion. Remember, though, not to leave your pet in a vehicle with all the windows rolled tightly closed and no water. That's a deadly combination.
If You Go:
Denali National Park & Preserve
Crater Lake National Park
Olympic National Park
Tel: 360-374-6781 or 360-640-0184
Yosemite National Park
Arches and Canyonlands National Parks
Tel: (435) 259-7922