Published on March 2, 2021

We know how Yosemite’s majestic scenery and outdoor recreation make us feel.  Elated, inspired, energized, and in awe, for starters.  Just imagine how happy it’s going to make your four-legged best friend.

Pine cones and Sierra scents to sniff everywhere.  Misty waterfall trails, happy humans right and left, and so…many…sticks.  That unbridled joy that dogs feel every day will go even higher when you’re vacation-vibing with all senses, canine and human, in concert.

Share that “call of the wild” bond by skipping the board-and-care and bringing your true companion to Yosemite Mariposa for an incredible dog lover’s journey.

Ruff-ing it in Yosemite National Park

As long as you know the rules, you can have a great time with your pet in Yosemite. (Photo credit

America’s national parks are not generally considered the best places for pets.  And naturally so, with preservation and protection of wildlife and botany counted among the core missions of the national park system.

That said, Yosemite National Park is more pet-friendly than most of America’s citadels to conservation. There are a few simple rules to follow to keep everyone safe, and by observing them you and your dog can discover the wonders of Yosemite side-by-side.

Leashed dogs are allowed on most fully paved roads, sidewalks and bicycle paths unless there is a sign that specifically forbids them.  The pavement is the general rule of the paw.  Many of Yosemite Valley’s greatest hits are in full view from pet-friendly paved paths. Tunnel View, Glacier Point, Half Dome, Bridalveil Fall and Yosemite Falls all offer epic canine access from paths where leashed pets are allowed. For a fully detailed treat-ise on ruff-ing it in Yosemite, check out Visiting Yosemite with Your Pet.

Tail-Waggin’ Times Outside the Park

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

Yosemite National Park is a small (but mighty) part of Mariposa County.  The rest of the Yosemite Mariposa realm is all-in with doggo-loving culture.  From historic Gold Country towns to the surrounding national forest lands, furry comrades are abundantly welcomed. Dog-friendly lodging, hikes, water activities and more will fill your days with vacation rewards.

Revved-up dogs can go APD (all-paw-drive) in the Sierra National Forest, featuring five designated wilderness areas within its expansive boundary.  Dogs should be either leashed or under direct voice command and control at all times. Nearby Stanislaus National Forest features similar status.  Abundant recreational opportunities earn each forest their reps as dog- and outdoor-lover’s places.

Yosemite Mariposa’s man-made environment is every bit as dog-friendly.  Walk the historic small-town avenues of Mariposa, Coulterville, Fish Camp, Midpines, El Portal, Catheys Valley and more, and you’re bound to see happy dogs and water bowls outside many of the unique local establishments.

Mariposa County’s foothill elevations can bring on the heat.  Fortunately, there are great swimming holes all over Mariposa County, but maybe none that are better for dogs than sun-kisssed Lake McClure and Lake McSwain, both nestled in the oak-studded Sierra foothills on the county’s western slope. The Wild & Scenic Merced River is also calling. Do take special care with dogs around the Merced, which can flow with snowmelt-fueled force early in the year.  As a general rule, don’t wade into water that is flowing faster than you can walk.

Hotels for Dogs

After a day of Yosemite Mariposa adventure, you’re going to want woof-worthy digs to stretch out, kick back and recharge for tomorrow’s vacation plan.  Fortunately, Mariposa County offers some of California’s top dog-friendly lodging options.

Tenaya Lodge Pet Friendly
Yosemite Mariposa County’s Tenaya Lodge is among the most pet-friendly lodging options in all of the Sierra.

Winner of a Sunset Travel Award for Best Resort for Pets, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is a pioneer in pet-friendly travel. Located in Fish Camp, just a few miles from Yosemite’s South Gate entrance, this full-service resort is set among 50 wild acres of Sierra National Forest. Stay in one of Tenaya Lodge’s dog-friendly Explorer Cabins and you both may rollover with joy.  Tenaya Lodge’s cool, dog-friendly accommodations, amenities and packages even include dog massage with organic paw balm at the resort’s renowned Ascent Spa.

Pet-friendly lodging options are available at Autocamp Yosemite.

A fleet of road trip-tested accommodations in dog-friendly Airstream suites and luxurious tents, AutoCamp Yosemite is located in foresty Midpines, with proximity to Yosemite National Park’s Arch Rock Gate on all-season Highway 140. Private patios have grills and fire pits with room to stretch out and share nightcap conversations. Book AutoCamp’s dog-friendly accommodations ahead of arrival and get ready for #RVLife (lite).

Campgrounds offer plentiful local options. Dogs are allowed at all Sierra and Stanislaus national forest campsites. When camping in areas or campgrounds with other forest visitors, pets must be kept on a leash or tether.  The Bagby Camping & Recreation area is located just below the Wild & Scenic Merced River at the inlet of Lake McClure.  Camping, RV and primitive waterfront sites are on offer and pets are welcome.  It’s great for a recon visit, too, with day-use picnic facilities and restrooms.

Dog-friendly vacation homes and cabins are another great way to go.  Check out all Yosemite Mariposa lodging options and book early!

Getting Here

Great travel journeys start with a solid plan. Unfortunately, while they have rich emotional lives and phenomenal olfaction, dogs can’t make future plans. They live in the moment; that leaves the trip planning up to you!

The open road is the best way to travel and forge new bonds with your bestie beast.  We’ve all seen those lips-ruffling smiles dogs get as they reach their noses out the car window (safely rolled down!), taking in exquisite sights and smells. There’s plenty of room for all those toys, treats, beds and blankets in the back seat, too.  Pro tip: pack your Sierra Cup as a portable water bowl for hydrating along the way.

 Mariposa County is located approximately 200 miles east of San Francisco and 300 miles north of Los Angeles, making it perfect for easy dog treks with plenty of options along the way to jump out and smell the fresh-cut grass.  And before you arrive, check our suggestions for best practices when it comes to responsible travel to Yosemite Mariposa.

Categories: Pet-Friendly Travel