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Yosemite with Pets

Visiting Yosemite with Your Pet

Yosemite is a magical place for all people... and their best friends! There are many great trails to explore in Yosemite with your dog and only a few important rules to remember for your pets safety and the safety of Yosemite's precious wildlife.

Yosemite-Dog-Blog-Image

Photo by Hilary H

Is Yosemite pet-friendly? Yes!

There are a few rules that pet owners should follow to protect their pets and Yosemite’s wildlife, but even within those limitations there is a lot that you and your dog can do together in Yosemite National Park. Here’s what you need to know about:

Find Pet-friendly Lodging in Yosemite

Yosemite cabin with dog on balcony

Properties such as Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite have pet-friendly lodging options.

You’ll find dog-lovers and dog-friendly Yosemite lodging options throughout the region. To see them all, visit the lodging page, choose the general type of accommodation you prefer – hotels and motels, bed and breakfasts, cabin rentals or camping. Then use the Advanced Filter to show pet-friendly options. You can also narrow down options by geographical region – like Yosemite Valley or on the southern edge of the park in Wawona & Fish Camp or along the western border of the park in El Portal or Mariposa, Midpines and Cathey’s Valley.

Some dog-friendly properties like Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite even offer pet-friendly packages to make your pooch feel extra welcome. Tenaya also has dog-sitting services so you can explore some of Yosemite’s non-dog-friendly trails as well.

Although the hotels inside the park do not allow pets, if you want to stay close you could rent a cabin inside the park gates in Wawona, Yosemite West or Foresta. Wawona also has a few pet-friendly bed and breakfasts. Other than the walk-in campgrounds and group sites, most of the in-park campgrounds are also pet-friendly.

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What can you do with your dog in Yosemite?

Lots.

Because the park needs to protect ecosystems and wildlife, as well as manage a lot of visitation, there are places that your dog will not be allowed. However, as long as you follow some simple rules, you and your dog can see much of what makes Yosemite famous.

General Pet Rules

  • Pets need to be on a short leash – not more than 6 feet (2 m) long.
  • Don’t leave your pet unattended.
  • Clean up after them. Carry poop bags and throw your pet’s bagged waste into the trash.
  • Also remember that other wildlife love pet chow too. Make sure you store your pet’s food the same way you would store human food.

Short Pet-Friendly Hikes in the Yosemite Valley Area

Tig and Mort at Yosemite by dogthusiast.com

Tig and Mort on the Lower Yosemite Falls loop. Photo by dogthusiast.com

Leashed pets are allowed on most fully paved roads, sidewalks and bicycle paths and in most developed areas unless there is a sign that specifically forbids them, like on the trail to Vernal Fall.

There are many miles of unpaved trails in Yosemite where your pet is not allowed. However, you can see nearly all of Yosemite’s most famous icons from pet-friendly paved paths.

Places you’ve heard of like Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall and Yosemite Falls – these are all easily visible from the paved trails within Yosemite Valley where leashed pets are allowed.

  • Bridalveil Fall – the short walk to the base of Bridalveil Fall is pet-friendly. During peak spring run-off you and your furry friend will appreciate walking through the cool mist at the base of the waterfall.
  • Lower Yosemite Fall Loop is another popular walk with an incredible waterfall view. The loop is a half mile (0.8 km) loop from the trailhead and 1.5 miles ( 2.4 km) from Yosemite Village.
  • Extend the Lower Yosemite Fall Loop with a stroll around Cook’s Meadow. On this loop you’ll get another great view of Yosemite Falls, plus views of Half Dome and Sentinel Rock.
  • Leashed dogs are also allowed on the paved trails leading out to Glacier Point. This will give you and your furry friend views down into Yosemite Valley, an incredible view of Half Dome and a glimpse of Vernal and Nevada Falls far below.
  • Another dog-friendly hike is the first paved mile out to Mirror Lake/Mirror Meadow below Half Dome with your pup. Beyond Mirror Lake, the pavement ends and you will need to turn around, but not before you have a chance to walk along the Merced River below Half Dome. In the spring, there are stunning reflections of Mt. Watkins in Mirror Lake. In late summer, Mirror Lake dries out and becomes a lovely meadow area. This, unfortunately, is out-of-bounds for pets to play in, but lovely to see anyway.
  • Tunnel View is also dog-friendly. This isn’t exactly a hike, but you can definitely enjoy the iconic view with your favorite pup.

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Longer Yosemite Hikes for Dogs

The dog-friendly trails in the Yosemite Valley area are relatively short trails. Most are less than a mile. However, if you want to go on a longer hike with your pet, you have a couple of options in other areas of the park.

  • The main trail through the Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias is part of the old Big Oak Flat Road and is open to dogs all the way through to the Hodgdon Meadows Campground. Remember to stay off the side loops where your pet is not allowed, and enjoy the ancient wisdom of these majestic trees. The trail continues 5.4 miles (8.7 km) to Hodgdon Meadow Campground, so venture out and then turn around when you’re ready.
  • Carlon Road from Evergreen Road to Hodgdon Meadow Campground (1.5 miles, 2.4 km one way) is another quiet pet-friendly hike. Note: this trail is different than the one that leads to Carlon Falls, where pets are not allowed.
  • Wawona Meadow Loop – 3.5 mile (5.6 km) loop across the road from Wawona Hotel circles the golf course and surrounding meadow areas. Keep your eyes open for wildflowers in the spring months. This is a gently rolling trail. If you find yourself walking up a big hill, you might be on Chowchilla Mountain Road.
  • Chowchilla Mountain Road – This four-wheel-drive road winds through pine and cedar forests. The trail starts on the northern side of the Wawona Golf Course and climbs over Chowchilla Mountain into Ponderosa Basin.

Even more hiking opportunities are open to you and your dog just outside Yosemite National Park’s boundaries as well.
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Pet-Friendly Hikes near Yosemite

hiking Hite Cove with dog

The trail at Hite Cove is pet-friendly. Photo by: Kim Lawson

Dogs are always welcome in National Forests, and Yosemite is surrounded by them. Here are just a few highlights.

  • Starting at the Briceburg Bridge on Highway 140, you can hike west for 2.5 miles (4 km; one-way) on a wide trail with views of the Merced River. The trail passes historic mining equipment from the gold rush days, an old wooden flume that provided water to an electric plant for miners, and is filled with wildflowers in the spring. If you want to continue past the normal 2.5-mile turn-around, a steep and narrow trail leads to a waterfall beyond.
  • From Briceburg Bridge you can also go east toward Yosemite for an 8-mile (13 km) round-trip hike. Along this portion of the trail, keep your eyes open for what is left of the Slate Creek Bridge on your right.
  • Hite Cove is a popular early spring hike due to its abundant display of poppies and other wildflowers. Like the Briceburg trails, this is located just outside Yosemite National Park. That means pets are allowed. However, for your safety and the safety of others, this trail is best suited to a dog that is trail-wise and knows not to run into people. The trail is narrow, and a steep slope leads from the trail down into the river far below. Also, watch out for the poison oak that lines sections of the path.

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Where your pet is not allowed

Thank you for protecting your pet, other people and Yosemite’s wildlife by knowing and respecting these boundaries.

Pets are Not allowed:

  • On most trails, including the trail to Vernal Fall even though the first part of this trail is paved. See trails where dogs are allowed.
  • On unplowed roads covered in snow – including Glacier Point Road beyond Badger Pass Ski Area and on the Tioga Road beyond Crane Flat.
  • In undeveloped and wilderness areas.
  • Inside public buildings, including in-park lodging. Since you should also not leave your dog unattended, make sure you plan around any shopping or dining trips. There is outdoor seating at a number of in-park restaurants like Degnan’s Kitchen, and the Curry Village Deck.
  • On shuttle buses.
  • In all walk-in and group campgrounds and campsites, including Camp 4. Other campgrounds allow dogs.
  • In any other areas that have been signed as no pets allowed.

There are many reasons that pets are not allowed on Yosemite hiking trails. This is for as well as to protect the wildlife that live here. Although you might know that your furry friend wouldn’t hurt a soul, they still smell like a predator. Even a tiny eight-pound dog can trigger a full fight or flight reaction in mule deer many times his weight and size, especially if the deer is a mother concerned for her fawn. With the many visitors to Yosemite, and so many dog-lovers, it’s imperative that we limit the impact of our furry friends.

A note on service animals:Service dogs are legally permitted anywhere visitors can go. However, service dogs must be trained to perform a specific task that assists a person with a disability. Emotional support or comfort animals are not service animals and need to follow the same rules as other pets.


The NPS policy on service animals uses the same standards established by the Justice Department and Americans with Disabilities Act.
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Options for your dog while you’re out hiking

Kennel in Yosemite Valley

You can board your dog in a kennel operated by Yosemite Hospitality at the Yosemite Valley stables while you explore Yosemite. It is open during the summer months, and reservations are strongly suggested due to limited space. Written proof of immunizations are required. Dogs must be over six months old, and dogs under 20 lbs (44 kg) need to be in a crate. For reservations or more information call 209.382.8326

Dog Sitting at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

Don’t leave your best friend alone in an unfamiliar place. Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite offers dog-sitting services. You’ll need to give a minimum of 24-hour notice, but since the service is based on availability, it is better to make a reservation as far in advance as possible.

Kennel at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite

In addition to dog-sitting services, there is also a kennel at Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite.
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