Welcome matte rolls up in our national park system when we are driving with our dogs. Very few national parks allow dogs to go on hiking trails. Dogs are not allowed in Yellowstone National Park more than 100 feet from roads, parking areas and campgrounds. In Yosemite National Park, dogs can walk on the valley floor, but they are not allowed on any sidewalks or slopes. Dogs at the Grand Canyon can walk along the south coast in developed areas but cannot walk on any trail below the shore. Dogs are allowed on a lighter trail in Zion National Park.
And on and on. So while most Americans are planning to visit our national natural treasures, we dog owners should be a little more creative. Here are 5 best national parks for taking your dog to America.
1. Acadia National Park Bar Harbor, Maine
Acadia National Park is definitely one of the crown jewels of the National Park Service and dogs won’t bark – this is the best national park to bring your dog for an outdoor adventure. Dogs are allowed throughout the park, except for swimming beaches and ladder hiking trails such as the Precipice Trail.
Most of your time with your dog at Acadia will be spent in its intricate network of carriage rods. Mount Desert Island, named after the French explorer Samuel Champlain in 1604, was once a summer
America’s richest and most famous playground. When John d. Rockefeller, Jr., who was not a big fan of horse-drawn carriages, enjoyed a ride with his team of horses and open coaches when he visited the Maine coast. He worked hard to build wide, motor-free carriageways that ran through the island’s mountains. Forty-three miles of broken stone roads were finally built between 1913 and 1940, and hand-built roads are the best examples of construction techniques still used in America. In addition to stone paths and stone crossings, irregularly spaced granite slabs, locally known as “Rockefeller’s teeth”, there are 16 stone-facing bridges – each unique in design.
One of the richest class, George b. Dore dedicated 43 years to the preservation of the island and much of his family’s fortunes. He offered more than 6,000 acres of land to the federal government, and in 1916 Woodrow Wilson founded the Siુરre de Montes National Monument. Three years later, Lafayette National Park became the first national park east of the Mississippi River. In honor of its Acadian heritage, the park became Acadia National Park in 1929.
Some park highlights come with less shopping for your dog. The Jordan Pond Nature Trail is a mile long loop that leads to views of the glacier mountains reflected in the lake water. Round mountains, known as bubbles, can be climbed on short paths. Other easy hikes include the Ocean Trail to Otter Cliffs, which stick to the edge of the land on the Atlantic Surf and explore the Cadillac Mountains. The 1530-foot Summit Rio de Janeiro is the highest point on the North Atlantic Ocean, north of Brazil, and the sunrise trek here will be the first to be published in America. The Great Head Trail loops on Sand Beach and most people go to the head of the loop. But going to the left in the ocean jungle saves stunning coastal views from one of America’s highest headlands to the end. All of these trails are easily accessible from the Park Loop Road and can be busy. Find trails around Mon Sound in the western reach of the park – America’s only fjord – to find traces of lesser paws.
2. Shenandoah National Park Lure, Virginia
The Blue Ridge Mountains that host the Shenandoah National Park are the oldest rocks on Earth. These mountains were taller than the Rockies when they were created a billion years ago. The peaks and valleys we see today have made time sharp and round. But what we see in Shenandoah is not left in the hands of nature, as we expect in our national parks.
Shenandoah is a highly planned national park. Herbert Hoover founded the Summer White House on the Rapiden River (the park is only 75 miles from Washington DC) to help trigger forest development. During the Great Depression, Shenandoah was officially designated a national park, and Franklin Roosevelt’s “Tree Army” planted millions of trees on slopes that were cleared for farms and timber.
At the same time, construction began on the 105-mile Skyline Drive, the only public road in Shenandoah National Park today. Your dog is welcome at almost every stop along the way – only 20 of the more than 500 miles of hiking trails are out of bounds for dogs. These are usually rough roads and roads associated with rock climbs. Unfortunately, one such trial is on Old Rag Mountain, which many consider to be the best trek on the East Coast. But in general your dog will be able to visit the best views and waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park.
3. Cuyahoga Valley National Park Brexville, Ohio
Raise your hand if you know that America’s first national park of the 21st century … was created in Cleveland? Kuyahoga was the “crooked river” for the first people to come here 12,000 years ago. Its sloping valley walls prevented settlement as Easterners entered the region in the late 1700s. But the navigable water link between Lake Erie and the Ohio River was a priority in the early American canal era, and in 1832 the Ohio and Erie Canal became a reality. Ohio boomed and immigrants flocked to the area. The canal was closed for business by the Great Flood of 1913 and the Kuyahoga Valley was abandoned for recreational purposes. The 33,000 acres of land on the banks of the Kuyahoga River were protected as a national recreation area, so much effort was made to create a park before its designation as a national park in 2000.
Consistent with its history as a place of recreation, Cuyahoga is a national park that allows dogs to roam its trails. It does not have the feel of magnificent American national parks but instead evokes an intimate feeling on highways, farmland and squeezed roads between neighbors.
The main road from the park is the Tupath Trail of about 20 miles along the historic canal route. Ten trailheads make it easy to hike the limestone limestone path into biscuit-sized pieces. The footpath is a mixture of meadows and forests and the remains of locks and villages. The second longest trail passing through the park is the Bakey Trail, which traverses the entire state of Ohio for over 1,200 miles. For about 33 miles, the blue-and-white road traverses the ravines and mountain ranges.
Some of the best outings with your dog in the park are at the north end of the Cuyahoga Valley in the Bradford Reservation. A five-mile all-purpose trail traverses the Tinkers Creek Gorge area, exploring Ohio’s most spectacular canyon. The ravine is a national natural landmark, known for its Virgin Hamlock forests. The short walk from the main trail includes a simple walk to Bridal Wheel Falls and the Hamlock Creek Loop Trail.
Other highlights include a dark and mysterious 2.2-mile ramble around the ledge (from Happy Day Camp) and a 1.25-mile short loop from Brandiwine Gorge that takes your dog to the mouth of Brandiwine Falls and to the surface of the water 160 feet below. .
4. Hot Springs National Park Hot Springs, Arkansas
The water that blows to the ground at 143 degrees Fahrenheit fell to Earth 4,000 years ago, sinking deep into the earth before emerging from the lower western slopes of the Hot Springs Mountains and warming four degrees every 300 feet. Spanish explorers and French trappers have been visiting the spring for centuries. In 1803 the United States acquired the land in a Louisiana purchase, and in 1832 the federal government reserved land around the fountain – the first “national park” to conserve natural resources. Private bathhouses for tourists emerged. Finally, in 1921, Hot Springs became a true national park, a unique combination of a highly developed small town located in the low, round mountains.
Hot Springs offers more than 30 miles of high-altitude hiking trails, mostly short, interconnected jogs on Hot Springs Mountain and West Mountain that are adjacent to the city. Many of these pathways were carved for visitors who were encouraged to walk daily in addition to their baths as part of a holistic healthy routine at the spa. It was built wide enough to handle most vehicles and still has space today. Although the mountains are only a little over 1,000 feet high, it is expected that you and your dog will be able to breathe. Also, there aren’t many streams so make sure you carry plenty of cold water for your dog on a summer afternoon.
Exit for an extended canine hike on the Sunset Trail from West Mountain and tag the Music Mountain at 1,405 feet (the highest point in the park) before heading back to Sugarloaf Mountain. This trail does not loop and is a good candidate for a car shuttle. Back in town you can take your dog on a tour of Bathhouse Rona, visiting many of the 47 springs with a half-mile downhill promenade that flows at an average rate of 850,000 gallons per day.
One place you can’t take your dog to the hot springs is in the center bathhouse but with Bathhouse Rothi you can ride on a duck boat, an amphibious vehicle heading south to town for a cruise on Lake Hamilton. Dogs are allowed to ride on the top deck.
5. Mammoth Cave National Park Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Not named for the extinct woolly elephants, but rather the length of its trail, the Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave system. There may be no traces of mammoth in the vast underground world but archaeologists have found evidence of human occupation in the mammoth cave 4,000 years ago. In the early days of the country, the mammoth cave was used commercially to make the saltpeter needed to make gunpowder, and in 1941 the cave was declared a national park. In 1981, Mammoth Cave was named a World Heritage Site.
Your dog will not be able to sniff around the 336-mile underground passages in Mammoth Cave but there are more than 70 miles of land routes to explore in the park. Within a distance of less than two miles around the Visitor Center, there are a variety of hiking trails, including the Green River Bluffs Trail, which stretches from thick jungles to promontories above Green River. For longer canine hiking heads for North Side trails. Half a dozen mid-length day hikes from Maple Spring Trailhead (North Entrance Road) begin in the dark hollows and hardwood forests. This labyrinth of roads cuts through the rugged terrain that has been left in its natural state. In the Big Woods (Little Jordan Road), you can walk on the White Oak Trail through one of Kentucky’s last remaining old growth forests.
There is a small parking lot for the short road to the sand cave along Highway 255 (east entrance). For several weeks in the 1930s, this remote section of forest was the most famous spot in America. A local cave explorer named Floyd Collins was trapped in the cave and settled on rescue efforts that were described in detail in newspapers and radio reports. Defenders eventually failed to free Collins from the leg-pinning rock. The event gave birth to books and a movie, S in the Hall, starring Kirk Douglas. The small entrance to the Sand Cave is closed today, and there is little to remind visitors of the play that once captured America here.