So there is a lot of beauty around the desert and a short day trip from Las Vegas. This includes National Parks like Zion, Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Lake Mead and Red Rock. I spend the majority of the summer at Lake Mead with Bear. I personally love the outdoors and visiting the National Parks as frequently as I can. Lake Mead is a beautiful body of water and is great for a nice long swim with Bear. However there isn't many other National Parks that are as dog friendly.
The National Parks are beautiful protected areas. They often have some of the most picturesque backgrounds in all of The United States of America. They have more guests each year than Disneyland, and broke a record in 2014 of 294 MILLION people! So why wouldn't you want your dog to go check out the sights with you? Some of the National Parks are a little less than dog-friendly. They have numerous reasons for this stating the safety of the park and the wildlife that inhabits the park.
If you haven't ever been to the National Parks they are amazing. I often visit and take landscape photographs and hike several trails. The beauty that the National Parks have to offer are pretty amazing. I have never thought of taking my dog to the Park as often I am in the park long hours and trying to find wildlife. While Bear is pretty well mannered he has been known to chase a bunny or two, which may not fair well for wildlife photography.
While I am sure if you are reading this you LOVE dogs. Dogs are something that you simply can't live without and I couldn't agree more. However, there is a time and a place to be with your dog. If you are visiting one of the National Parks it may be a great time to think about boarding your dog. Unless you are visiting one of the National Parks that is dog-friendly. Which dog-friendly parks are pretty rare in the NPS system. While all of the National Parks state they are "dog-friendly" what that means is that your dog can always be on a 6ft maximum leash, and walked on roadways and some paved trails. Dogs can also not be left unattended in vehicles while you walk to the viewpoint. This doesn't sound like the best way to view the National Parks. I understand the rule, some people are afraid of dogs. Some people don't want to hear a barking dog in nature. I understand that.
I feel that all of the parks should have a dog-friendly area. Have you ever seen the expanse of the national parks? Some areas are MASSIVE, and I would imagine a dog's paradise! I read an article about how avoiding dog parks and getting outdoors with your dogs can help with overall health. I agree completely. Dogs get better exercise and it's a lot of fun to be in nature with your dog. Bear is exhausted after a day out exploring. A tired dog is a good thing as they need the exercise and mental stimulation to have great health.
I try to make sure to follow the rules when it comes to dogs, as I try to be respectful of other people's time in nature. This means that I often will stop and ask a few questions at the ranger station prior to going thru the park. When I was in Zion National Park this fall, I stopped a park ranger and asked where dogs were allowed. ONE trail (Pa'rus Trail) ... had to be leashed at all times and could only be about 50 feet off the paved walkway. This is a nice trail and I did get some nice photographs of the dogs there, however there is so many other trails and viewpoints that would make for great photographs. The final images of the dogs had all leashes removed and appeared that the dogs were just sitting on the trail.
The Super Bloom at Death Valley this spring (2016) was unreal. They are saying this is the best show of wildflowers in the park in 10 years! The flowers have covered the rocky ground of Death Valley National Park in California. I was seeing several images across my Facebook feed and I decided I had to take a day trip and check it out. I read all of the NPS rules and regulations on dogs in the park. I even called the park office before driving out. They told me that dogs were allowed on the roadways, and back roads. Bear was allowed in the highest traffic areas attached to a leash. This meant that a few of my favorite locations would be viewed from the car, which doesn't lend well to photography. Bear told me he really wanted to smell the flowers so I grabbed a few helpers and away we went. I knew that I would need to find a spot to have Bear "stretch his legs" a bit. I drove down a one way gravel road about 20 minutes and we played a bit of ball on the roadway. There wasn't a single person around and I could see in both directions about a mile. I figured this would be a decent place for him to run down the road and stretch out a bit. There wasn't a single anything for miles in this area. Bear was under total control and we did 3 long tosses, he peed and we were back in the truck.
One of the areas outside of Death Valley is a ghost town called Rhyolite, NV. It's an old mining town and ghost town and has some pretty interesting old buildings and worth a quick detour if visiting Death Valley from Las Vegas. I saw wild burros on the way into town and snapped a few photos of them. Bear hung out in an abandoned house which looks like a huge dog house! It was a great way to end the day. Bear is excited for the next day trip.
While I am glad that the National Parks allow dogs at all. I feel that the park service should have a few designated areas where dogs are allowed a little more freedom. I completely understand that a dog chasing an animal in a National Park can have environmental damages. Dogs can also transmit diseases to wildlife which would harm the natural ecosystem. I also know that some areas are extremely dangerous to dogs. Yellowstone is a perfect example of a place I won't be taking Bear anytime soon. Safety is always my main concern with dogs and keeping control of your dog in outdoor situations can be tricky. While Bear has a decent recall I have never tested that against the natural prey instinct of a dog.
Dogs seem to be a natural fit for a National Park. Who wouldn't want to stroll along the Snake River in Wyoming without their faithful pet? When the head of the National Part talked about the possibility of changing the NPS pet policy there was a ton of questions about dogs. Over 4,500 questions about dogs. This interview was a few years ago, but shows that people want to take their dogs to the parks. I feel that certain National Parks are so busy with visitors that it's not that friendly of a place to take a dog. I personally avoid taking Bear to events with lots of people as this can stress him out. When I take Bear to Lake Mead I drive almost 30 minutes down a dirt road. This area is not full of people in fact generally speaking it's Bear, the water, and myself. This is not a crowded area and is a safe area for Bear to enjoy a dip in the water.
Bark Gallery- Rick Vierkandt