The Yosemite National Park was opened on the 1st of October, 1890, about 25 years later after a grant was signed for this park. It was the beautiful scenery overfilled with giant sequoias that convinced President Lincoln to sign the grant. These days, there are around four million visitors on a yearly basis. No one really counts the dogs, but there are plenty of them coming around for a walk too.
So, are dogs allowed in Yosemite? Simply put, yes, they are. However, there are a bunch of restrictions and limitations. There are some rules every dog owner must follow. Luckily, you can take your dog in most areas, but there are also a few places where you cannot go. Moreover, make sure you clean after your dog. Now, what else should you know before taking your furry friend to Yosemite?
Rules to remember when bringing your dog to Yosemite
There are lots of things you can do with your pet in Yosemite. Apart from letting your pooch explore a new territory, you can also explore some beautiful trails with outstanding scenery. However, it does not mean that your dog should feel as free as in your backyard.
Keep in mind that this park has lots of ecosystems, as well as a highly diversified wildlife. On the same note, with four million visitors every year, all these ecosystems are exposed to plenty of stress. From this point of view, there are certain places where dogs are not permitted.
Generally speaking, pets must be kept on a short leash. Your dog cannot go further than six feet away from you. It is more than enough for most pets and you can walk around with them if they want to explore certain areas.
The pet should never be left unattended either. You might believe you have the most loyal dog in the world – the best trained pet out there. If it has always walked by your side without being on a leash, it does not mean that you can leave it unattended. Even if there are no issues whatsoever and the dog behaves, a leash is one of the legal rules of the park.
Always clean up after your dog. This is a common sense rule. You need to have poop bags with you. If your furry friend decides to eliminate, you should grab it and keep it bagged until you reach one of the bins around the park.
Finally, remember that there is lots of wildlife who loves to chew. There are lots of species who can enjoy some dog food. They would chew it or even eat it. In other words, you should store the pet’s food just like you store yours. If you have to feed your dog, make sure you grab all the leftovers and get rid of them. While dog food might be suitable for some animals, it can be extremely harmful for others.
So, are dogs allowed in this park? Absolutely, but stick to these rules to preserve the park and avoid getting in trouble.
Short hikes to do with your dog
Leashed dogs are allowed on pretty much every fully paved road or sidewalk, with a few restrictions. You do not really have to do your homework upfront, as there will be signs that forbid them here and there, so you will know precisely whether or not you can go. On the same note, there are lots of unpaved trails that pets are not permitted in.
Unless you enjoy walking for miles and hours, you can take your dog on a short hike for a bit of adventure. Make sure it is in good condition and can make the effort to complete it.
The Lower Yosemite Fall Loop is one of the most popular walks in the area. Walk for a bit and you will get some stunning views of the nearby waterfalls. The whole trail is about half a mile in length if you start it from the trail head, so it should not take you too long to complete it. On the other hand, if you go on it from the Yosemite Village, it is about 1.5 miles.
Do not overlook the hike to the Mirror Lake either – also referred to as the Mirror Meadow. Keep in mind that dogs are allowed on the first paved mile only, so you will have to turn around then. You need to turn just after the Mirror Lake. However, before getting there, you can admire the Merced River, as well as the Half Dome. The reflections of the mountain in the lake are stunning in the springtime. It turns into a meadow during the summertime.
The Bridalveil Fall hike is also worth some attention. It is a relatively short hike and it takes you to the base of the nearby fall. Ideally, you should do this trail in the springtime. As the temperature goes high, you will walk by the base of the waterfall and enjoy a cool and refreshing mist.
If you decide to do the above mentioned loop, you might as well extend it a little and head to the Cook’s Meadow as well. You will find a better view of the waterfall, not to mention the Sentinel Rock and the dome.
Heading to the Glacier Point? There are a bunch of paved trails around it and all of them have great views over the Yosemite valley, the nearby falls and the dome. Finally, Tunnel View is dog friendly and relatively short and easy too.
Long hikes to do with your dog
Most trails in Yosemite are relatively short and barely reach to a mile. They are easy and do not require too much hassle – just make sure that your pooch is allowed. However, if you have an active dog that needs to burn lots of energy and you feel like taking a long hike, you do have a few good options to take in consideration.
Check out the trial crossing the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. It is just a small part of the Big Oak Flat Road and dogs are welcome on it, but not after the Hodgdon Meadows Campground. You will see all kinds of loops coming out of it. Some of them allow dogs, while others do not. Pay attention to signs – they are visible everywhere. The trail goes up to 5.4 miles before reaching the campground – lots of walking to do and plenty of beautiful trees to admire.
The Wawona Meadow Loop is not to be ignored either. It goes on for 3.5 miles and goes by the hotel with the same name. The loop covers meadow areas nearby, as well as a local golf course. There are plenty of small things to admire, such as wildflowers during the springtime. The trail is easy and does not require too much effort. However, it might get hard at times, especially if you end up walking up the Chowchilla Mountain Road.
The Carlon Road connects the Hodgdon Meadow Campground and the Evergreen Road. Do not confuse it with another trail that shares a similar name – dogs are not permitted there. This one is perfectly fine and it goes up to 1.5 miles.
Last, but not least, take a walk over the Chowchilla Mountain Road too. This road will go around cedar and pine trees – lots of shade, ideal for the summertime. The road is suitable for four wheel drive vehicles, but also some walks. It starts just past the Wawona Golf Course – on the north side.
Where dogs are not allowed
Most of the areas where pets are not allowed are clearly signposted. You just cannot miss these signs. Imagine a natural environment without too many signs – you will spot the few of them straight away. Generally speaking, you may not necessarily care about these things if you go there for an unplanned trip. But then, if you want to spend one or more nights in Yosemite, you want a better plan, right? Plus, you should know you can also find dog friendly lodges, as well as dog sitting services.
As a general rule of thumb, dogs are not allowed on most trails. They cannot even go to the trail leading to the Vernal Fall. The initial part of the trail is paved though, but it does not mean that your dog is allowed. You will see a sign there.
If you visit during the wintertime, avoid unplowed roads. If there is snow, your dog is not permitted. The Glacier Point Road does not allow dogs either – especially after the Badger Pass Ski Area. The same goes for parts of the Tioga Road.
Unlike most expectations, dogs should be kept away from undeveloped places. While some wild areas can be explored, your dog is not allowed. There is lots of wildlife hiding in these areas and your dog can cause all kinds of problems to smaller animals.
Public buildings ban the access of dogs too. Make sure you plan everything upfront. The dog should not be left unattended – so forget about leaving it outside the shop or restaurant. Some restaurants have outdoor seating areas though.
Other than that, dogs are not allowed on shuttle buses or in group or walk in campsites. Your pet will be allowed in other campgrounds though. Again, pay attention to signs. Any area that does not allow pets should be avoided.
Service pets are allowed where people are, but they must be trained to perform various tasks. If you want to bring your dog for emotional support, it is not possible.
Frequently asked questions
There are a few other issues you might face while bringing your dog to Yosemite.
Where can dogs stay in Yosemite?
There are dog friendly lodges out there, as well as accommodation areas that do not accept dogs.
Are dogs allowed on Yosemite shuttle?
No, unless they are service dogs trained to do particular tasks.
Are dogs allowed in Tuolumne Meadows?
Yes, they are, but make sure you look after them and keep them on a leash.
Are dogs allowed on Lower Yosemite Falls trail?
Yes, they are. In fact, this is one of the most common trails for dog owners bringing their pooches along.
So, are dogs allowed in this national park? Absolutely, but there are specific areas you can take your dog to, as well as many areas that do not allow pets. While you are 100% sure that your dog could not hurt another animal, your pet is still a predator with a perfect sense of smell. Even a small dog can start a bad reaction in a large deer, especially when it comes to females looking after their fawns. Rules are made to be followed, so stick to them if you cannot leave your furry friend at home.