The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the United States federal government that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. In general, national parks welcome pets in developed areas, on many trails and campgrounds, and in some lodging facilities. Pets must be restrained either on a leash not exceeding 6 feet in length, caged or crated at all times. Pets are not permitted in a public building, public transportation vehicle, or location designated as a swimming beach. Requirements for visiting a national park with your pet vary, so be sure to check each park’s regulations before you visit. Read more here.
The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that administers the nation’s 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres. Pets are allowed in all national forests, but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times while in developed recreation areas and on interpretive trails. Most other areas within the National Forests do not require dogs to be on a leash, but they should be under control at all times. Pets are not permitted in swimming areas.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is an agency within the United States Department of the Interior, administers more than 247.3 million acres of public lands in the United States. Most BLM public lands are located in these 12 western states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Visitors to the public lands enjoy countless types of outdoor recreation, including camping, hunting, fishing, hiking, and boating. Dogs on a leash are allowed on most trails and campgrounds in areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In general, backcountry areas do not require dogs to be leashed. Before visiting public lands with pets, please check with the local BLM office to find out information about public land off-leash hiking policies.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is an agency of the US Federal Government within the US Department of the Interior dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats. A sub-unit of the FWS is the National Wildlife Refuge System —560 National Wildlife Refuges and thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas covering over 150 million acres. Most refuges welcome dogs on a leash.
Service dogs are permitted on all public lands, while most national parks allow pets in developed areas. Other locations — such as national wildlife refuges, national forests, and wild and scenic rivers — also welcome pets on designated trails and parts of the backcountry at various times throughout the year. Don’t forget to check out rules and regulations for each location to know exactly where your dog is allowed. If you take your dogs on a trip into the great outdoors, make sure to always bag their waste and have a leash handy if required. This ensures you will Leave No Trace and protects your pup, wildlife, and other park goers. Read more here.
If you plan to bring your dog with you to the national forest, first familiarize yourself with trail situations that can be hazardous for a dog, for the hiker, or for other trail users. Be sensitive to other visitors who are uncomfortable around a dog they do not know–especially large dogs. Unless your dog responds well to voice commands and is comfortable around people, keep it leashed while in parking lots and at busy trail heads. Update all vaccinations and provide flea and tick control for your pet. Also, make sure your dog has identification tattoos and/or tags in case you are separated while on your hike. Remember: Dogs and cats are predators by nature and will instinctively chase forest birds and animals.
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