When we were planning our trip to Yosemite, the first question I asked was: "Can I take our dog Holly with us?". It was a little tough finding the answer, but it turns out that you can actually bring dogs into Yosemite National Park. It only seemed fitting to bring Holly with us, it's the perfect place for everyone to enjoy the great outdoors. While the park has rules about where you can take your dog, there's still plenty of spots for you and your Fido. After a lot of research, I complied this complete dog friendly guide to Yosemite. So pack up the car and get ready to hit the trails!
The Do's to Bringing Your Dog to Yosemite
Do always keep your dog on a leash that's 6 feet or shorter - The park rangers will promptly give you a ticket for a loose dog.
Do keep your dog on paved trails - I've listed below the most popular dog friendly trails. If there's a trail you really want to hike that is not dog friendly, you can board your dog in the kennel for the daytime.
Do make reservations to book a spot in the kennel - From May through September, a daytime only kennel is available at the Yosemite Valley Stable. You must provide written proof of immunizations (rabies, distemper, parvo, and bordetella) from your veterinarian. No food is allowed, due to wildlife management concerns. Because of limited kennel space, advanced reservations are highly recommended, please call 209.372.8326.
Do always clean up after your pet - Be responsible, bring doggie bags.
Do your research for dog-frienly lodging spots and call to ask before you book - I have seen mixed rules on whether dogs are allowed on campgrounds. From what I gather, it seems they are allowed on certain campgrounds as long as it's not a "walk-in campground". Dogs are not allowed in Tamarack Flat and Porcupine Flat campgrounds. Dog are allowed at Hodgdon Meadow Campground (except in group and horse sites; must be on a leash at all times).
Pets are not allowed in most hotels inside of the park with the exception of the Tenaya Lodge. We stayed at the Oakhurst Lodge simply because it was more in our budget and they offered dog friendly rooms. It was over an hour drive everyday into Yosemite, but we made it work and still had a great time. Scroll to the bottom of the blog post to see a full list of Yosemite hotels that are pet-friendly!
Do leave early in the morning - You may have heard rumblings about bad traffic in Yosemite and I'm sorry to tell you the rumors are true. I HIGHLY recommend getting up as early as you can to drive into the park. You can easily be stuck in traffic for over 3 hours just trying to get inside.
Do pack a lunch and water - Food and drinking options are very limited inside the park. Be sure to pack food and lots of water for your dogs, and for yourself.
Disclaimer: The rules are subject to change so make sure you double check before heading out to the park.
Best Dog Friendly Trails and Lookout Spots in Yosemite
Wawona Meadow Loop Trail and Chowchilla Mountain roads in Wawona - Easy trail, 3.5 mile loop. Start this walk at the Wawona Hotel. Take the paved road across the Wawona golf course and take the first left onto an unpaved fire road. Follow the road around the meadow. If you're a fan of wildflower, this is an ideal trail to view them. 8308 Wawona Rd., Yosemite National Park, California 95389.
Bridalveil Fall - Easy trail, 0.5 mile loop. Bridalveil Fall is often the first waterfall you’ll see when entering Yosemite Valley. The best time of the year to see Bridalveil Fall is in early spring when it is at peak flow. Other times of the year Bridalveil Fall may become dry, especially in the late fall. Find it just off State Highway 41 near the junction with State Highway 140, near Tunnel View.
Cook’s Meadow Loop - Easy trail, 1 mile loop. Begin at Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. This short, easy walk offers stunning views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Sentinel Rock. From the visitor center, walk west along the bicycle path toward Lower Yosemite Fall.
Glacier Point - Glacier Point is a lookout spot with stunning views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Yosemite’s high country (see our photos in this blog post). It is accessible by car from approximately late May through October or November. This was one of our favorite spots from our trip. We pulled out our blanket and had a picnic with our dog Holly.
Lower Yosemite Fall Trail - Easy trail, 1 mile loop. This trail offers such amazing views of the waterfall that you can expect to get sprayed with water when standing on the footbridge near its base. This short, easy walk rewards with spectacular views of both Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls. This paved loop trail offers different vantage points of Yosemite Falls and Yosemite Creek.
If walking from the Valley Visitor center, follow the bicycle path to shuttle stop #6 and begin the trail. Consider walking the loop in a clockwise direction for best views of Yosemite Falls.
Mirror Lake Trail - Easy to moderate trail, leashed pets are allowed on the first paved mile of the trail. Beyond that, they are prohibited. The first mile of this trail is a paved service road that leads directly to Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake it is fullest in spring and early summer, when Tenaya Creek flows freely with fresh snowmelt. When water is calm, the lake offers beautiful reflections of surrounding cliffs.
Tunnel View - One of the most popular scenic overlooks in Yosemite National Park, spot offers that iconic Yosemite valley view we are all so used to seeing in posters and postcards. Perfect spot for that family portrait with the pooch!
Check out these dog-friendly hotels near Yosemite:
Book a Yosemite tour for more adventure:
Explore more California outdoors:
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