Zion National Park in Utah, photo courtesy of the National Park Service
U.S. national parks serve as gateways to our nation’s environmental heritage, rich with historical properties. So when taking time out to explore the natural wonders in any of our national parks, it seems only fitting to bring our four-legged family members along with us. Dog + natural wilderness wonderland = doggie heaven, right? Not so fast. Remember that national parks are designated and maintained for preservation purposes. That said, pets are welcome in national parks with restrictions. So before heading out with your pup pal to commune with nature, be sure to visit the National Park Service’s terrific web site that provides pet guidelines specific to each national park, along with heaps of information like history, culture, news, webcams and of course, general information. -(JS, Sleepypod)
About the National Park Service
from the National Park Service
Since 1916, the American people have entrusted the National Park Service with the care of their national parks. With the help of volunteers and park partners, we are proud to safeguard these nearly 400 places and to share their stories with more than 275 million visitors every year. But our work doesn’t stop there.
We are proud that tribes, local governments, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individual citizens ask for our help in revitalizing their communities, preserving local history, celebrating local heritage, and creating close to home opportunities for kids and families to get outside, be active, and have fun.
Taking care of the national parks and helping Americans take care of their communities is a job we love, and we need – and welcome – your help and support.
What We Do: National Park Service by the Numbers*
- $48,000,000,000 incentivized in private historic preservation investment
- 11,700,000,000 visitors
- $5,409,252,508 in preservation and outdoor recreation grants awarded
- $2,750,000,000 annual budget
- 121,603,193 objects in museum collections
- 97,417,260 volunteer hours
- 84,000,000 acres of land
- 4,502,644 acres of oceans, lakes, reservoirs
- 2,482,104 volunteers
- 218,000 jobs supported in gateway communities
- 85,049 miles of perennial rivers and streams
- 68,561 archeological sites
- 43,162 miles of shoreline
- 28,000 employees
- 27,000 historic structures
- 2,461 national historic landmarks
- 582 national natural landmarks
- 400 endangered species
- 398 national parks
- 49 national heritage areas
- 1 mission: The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.
*numbers are cumulative through the end of FY 2008
Fire Island National Seashore in New York, photo courtesy of the National Park Service
In general, pets are permitted but must be restrained either on a leash not exceeding 6 feet in length, caged or crated at all times. Park Superintendents and Managers have the discretion to further restrict areas open to pets (i.e., trails, buildings, campgrounds may be off limits).
Restrictions on pets in parks are as much to protect your pet as to protect park resources. Following are some of the reasons parks give for regulating the presence of pets:
- When a loose pet chases a squirrel or raccoon, the wild animal’s ability to survive is threatened, and when it is threatened, it may react aggressively.
- There is a strong possibility in parks such as Yellowstone that your pet could become prey for bear, coyote, owl, or other predators.
- There is a possibility of exchange of diseases between domestic animals and wildlife.
- Dogs, the most common traveling companion, are natural predators that may harass or even kill native wildlife that is protected within the park’s boundaries.
- The “scent of a predator” that dogs leave behind can disrupt or alter the behavior of native animals.
- Pets may be hard to control, even on a leash, within confines of often narrow park trails and may trample or dig up fragile vegetation.
- Dog and cat feces add excessive nutrients and bacterial pollution to water, which decreases water quality and can also cause human health problems.
- Finally, lost domestic animals sometimes turn to preying on park wildlife and must be destroyed.