National Parks that is. I’m a big fan of our National Parks, but now that I have a dog my ability to explore National Parks is greatly decreased. For me, the point of having a dog is to explore the great outdoors with my four-legged friend.
I understand National Parks are here to protect natural areas and the wildlife that live there, and dogs don’t really fit into their management plan. I would think keeping Aspen on a leash would be sufficient, but she’s still not allowed on hiking trails. Since my complaining on this blog isn’t going to bring about a change in this restriction, I’ll be more productive and talk about options pet owners do have for exploring the great outdoors.
If you want to explore a National Park with Fido, look into what trails are open to dogs. At Grand Canyon NP pets are allowed on trails above the rim. At Grand Teton NP certain roads are closed to motorized traffic due to snow and open for winter and spring recreation, pets are welcome in these areas. Please remember to make a good name for dog-owners and follow the regulations such as keeping your dog on a leash and cleaning up after them. If you want to venture into areas your four-legged friend isn’t allowed there are often kenneling options in the parks or in towns close by.
Another option is visit your public lands that are dog-friendly, such as Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management areas. Often they have similar natural features and a fraction of the crowds.
A note about respecting others – not everyone loves your dog as much as you do. It’s hard to believe I know; I have to remind myself of this from time to time. A good way to put this in perspective is to put yourself in their hiking boots – maybe they had a traumatic experience and are now scared of dogs or maybe they didn’t grow up around dogs and aren’t used to them. Or even if they are dog people, maybe they don’t appreciate your dog jumping all over them – I fall into that category. Either way, if you’re traveling in areas where having your dog off-leash and under voice-control is permitted respect other visitors and call your dog back when you’re approaching people on the trail. If your dog can’t contain its excitement when being around new people, recognize that and put them on a leash until the coast is clear. Now pack some doggy treats and hit the trail with your pup!
-Trails and Aspen