Where Can I Take My Dog in California?
Dog-accessible policies in parks and open space districts
Please note, these are general guidelines. Follow the links and contact individual parks for more details on dog-friendly hiking, camping and other activities.
National Park Service (NPS)
The National Park Service welcomes pets in specific areas, including a number of trails, campgrounds and select lodging facilities. Each park has different dog-friendly experiences and rules, so review park websites and maps as you plan your visit. You’ll find basics about pet-friendly park travel, a map of the national parks that allow pets, and NPS pet regulations on the National Park Service website. The NPS Bark Ranger program also outlines principles for people and pups visiting national parks.
National Recreation Area (NRA)
Designated national recreation areas are different than national parks. Most are located near major cities or unfold around large bodies of water. The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), covering more than 80,000 acres in the San Francisco Bay Area, is one example that allows dogs on designated trails and beaches.
United States Forest Service (USDA)
The United States Forest Service welcomes dogs in many national forest and wilderness areas, along with certain campgrounds. Dogs must be kept on a leash or tether when you’re camping near others. In approved open spaces, pups should be under direct voice control or on a leash that’s less than eight feet long. Dogs are not allowed in organized swimming areas. You can search for forests and grasslands by state on the Forest Service website.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
From local hiking paths to backcountry wilderness to beloved National Historic Trails with interpretation centers, the Bureau of Land Management oversees various pup-friendly experiences. You can take your dog on most BLM-managed trails, but please review the trail website or contact the local BLM field office for individual leash policies. While not all trails require leashes, hikers with dogs should yield to other users on the path. Even if leashes aren’t required, it’s important to keep pups close when passing children, horses and other dogs.
California State Parks
The California State Parks system welcomes dogs at many locations. Start here for a comprehensive list of parks and expected etiquette for pups and their people. To help protect wildlife, sensitive habitats and natural resources, please keep some basic rules in mind. Dogs must remain on a six-foot leash and under your control at all times. Unless a place is designated as dog-friendly, pups are not generally allowed in buildings, on trails and beaches, in undeveloped wilderness areas, or near rivers and creeks. When bringing your dog into a state park, you may be required to show valid licenses and proof of appropriate immunizations.
Regional Parks and Open Space Districts
Many of California’s storied local parks, regional parks and open space districts welcome dogs. Often, you’ll also find designated off-leash areas away from single-track trails and parking areas. To search for pet-friendly parks, visit the California Association of Recreation and Park Districts.
Our friends at DogTrekker.com break down additional activities, rules and regulations by California region, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Marin County, Lake Tahoe and beyond. Remember, specific guidelines vary by park, so please check for additional information before you visit.