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Are Dogs Allowed in Rocky Mountain National Park? (Updated in 2023)

Bynewsmagzines

Apr 19, 2023
Rocky Mountain National Park Sign


If you’re thinking about bringing your dog on your next trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, you might want to think again. That’s because, for most areas inside the park, you can’t bring your dog. But why can’t you bring your dog, where can you bring them, and how does this affect service animals?

We’ll answer all those questions and more so you can come prepared and enjoy your next trip to Rocky Mountain National Park and the surrounding area!

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Rules for Dogs at Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park might seem like the perfect outdoor getaway for you and your pup, but the truth is that there’s a pretty strict no-pet policy there. According to the National Park Service,1 which runs Rocky Mountain National Park, pets are prohibited on all Rocky Mountain National Park trails, tundra, and meadows.

The National Park Service states that they ban pets from these areas to protect the wildlife and your pet. Not only can a direct interaction between your pet and wildlife create problems, but dogs leave a “predator scent” that can scare off local wildlife even if they never interact directly with them.

Because of this, you cannot bring pets to any of the aforementioned areas of Rocky Mountain National Park, which account for most of the park range.

Scenic Overlook in Rocky Mountain National Park
Image Credit: Gingo Scott, Shutterstock

Service Animals in Rocky Mountain National Park

While regular pets can’t visit Rocky Mountain National Park, different rules apply to service animals. However, it’s important to note that these different rules only apply to registered service animals, not emotional support animals.

In order to stay compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rocky Mountain National Park allows any registered service animal to stay with their owners while visiting different areas of the park.

Where Can Pets Go in Rocky Mountain National Park?

While pets can’t go on any hiking trails, meadows, or tundra in Rocky Mountain National Park, they can go anywhere vehicles can go. This means pets can go along established roads and parking areas, and they can visit established camping and picnic areas.

These are the only areas pets may go in Rocky Mountain National Park, and when pets are in these areas, they must stay on leashes no longer than 6 feet at all times. Moreover, pets must stay quiet so they don’t disturb wildlife or other park visitors.

Finally, pet owners must pick up after their pets and properly dispose of all waste in the proper receptacles while visiting the park.

Don’t Leave Your Dog in the Car

While you can’t bring your dog to most of the areas in Rocky Mountain National Park, you cannot and should not leave your dog in your car or tie them up to other objects while you visit the park.

Not only does this create a potential problem for other park visitors, but animals can easily overheat. Whether it’s a cool mountain day or not, it doesn’t take much for a pet to overheat. If you plan on visiting the park and you have your pet, you can leave them at a pet-friendly hotel, a doggy daycare, or a pet boarding facility during your visit.

Pet-Friendly Hiking Alternatives Near Rocky Mountain National Park

While you can’t bring your pet to Rocky Mountain National Park for a hike, there are plenty of other hiking trails you can take your dog to outside of the park. Popular pet-friendly hiking trails around the park include:

  • Buchanan Pass Trail
  • Hermit Park
  • Lake Estes Trail
  • Lily Mountain
  • Cascade Mountain
  • Bowen Pass
  • Indian Peaks Wilderness

While these are some of the pet-friendly hiking trails around the area, it’s not a comprehensive list of all of them.

woman is hiking with a dog, in the Rocky Mountains, of Colorado
Image Credit: Larry Barrett, Shutterstock

Tips for Taking Your Pet for a Trail Hike

While you can’t take your pup for a hike on a trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, if you decide to go for a hike with them on one of the surrounding pet-friendly trails, there are a few tips you should follow. We’ve highlighted three of the most important for you here:

Bring Waste Bags

Whenever you go for a hike with your dog, you’re responsible for cleaning up after them and leaving the trail just like you found it. Dogs use the bathroom outside, so it’s a common theme for them to do it on a hiking trail. Because of this, you’ll need to bring waste bags to clean up after them whenever you’re out.

Keep Them on a Leash

When you’re going for a hike with your dog, you need to keep them on a leash if the rules for the trail require it or if your dog doesn’t respond to voice commands in every situation. You never know what you’ll come across on a trail, and you need to trust that your dog will behave the right way no matter what wildlife or people you see.

Follow the Rules

Before you bring your pet to any hiking trail, you need to look up the rules for that specific trail. Sometimes they’ll insist your dog stays on a leash or that you bring shot records or something else entirely. You’ll only know what you need to do if you read the rules first!

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Final Thoughts

While you can’t bring your pup to Rocky Mountain National Park, that doesn’t mean you and your pup can’t have a great time in the surrounding area. There are plenty of pet-friendly trails around the park, and if you want to visit a trail inside the park, there are plenty of services where you can drop your dog off for the day before heading out.


Featured Image Credit: TM creations, Shutterstock

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