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Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Dog Houses

Dog-friendly Yosemite Mariposa County is best in show.  Offering tail-wagging things to do, scenery worth a sit and stay, and great restaurants with tasty treats for plates and bowls alike, this is the place to take your fur-ever friend. Ready to embark?  Here are four pet-perfect days of a Yosemite dog lover’s itinerary:

Day 1: Woof This Way

The open road beckons, the journey begins. Mariposa County is located with-in easy-drive distance from most Californians, approximately 200 miles east of San Francisco and 300 miles north of Los Angeles.  Roll those windows down a press or two, let doggo sniff the adventure ahead – safely harnessed in – gums a-flappin’ in a big canine grin.

Everyone appreciates a nice stretch upon arrival. Check in (see “Dog Houses” below for great options), leash up and head out.  Yosemite Mariposa County is a vast county with eight distinct regions, each with beautiful trails for tails.  And Yosemite Mariposa County’s historic towns are every bit as dog-friendly.  Walk the charming main streets 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 local establishments.

Gourmet burger at 1850 Restaurant

Fresh, local, affordable and pet friendly. Stop by for a bite to eat at 1850 Restaurant, and sample some local craft brew.

Hit a yappy hour to enjoy a libation or two and some high-value treats.  Many Yosemite Mariposa County restaurant patios allow well-mannered dogs to join you at your table.  In the town of Mariposa, 1850 Restaurant is one, with covered outdoor patio dining where dogs are always welcome. 1850 is equal parts craft brew haven and farm-to-table oasis. Sample over a dozen flagship and seasonal brews with names like Bridalveil, White Wolf and Trailblazer that pay “hopage” to local landmarks and legends.

As you take your furry friend out for a breath of fresh mountain air just before bed, gaze up to the sparkling Sierra skies and say hey to Sirius, the Dog Star and unofficial celestial beacon of four-legged travelers.  Get ready to dream about your next day in pet travel paradise.

Paw tip: Pack a collapsible dog bowl (or your Sierra Cup!) for hydrating along the way.

Day 2: Yosemite National Bark

Woman and dog on a boardwalk in Yosemite Valley

Let your furry friend take you on a walk through Yosemite Valley.

Today we go big. The titanic grandeur of Yosemite makes it one of the world’s foremost places to visit.  While America’s national parks are not generally considered the best places for pets, Yosemite National Park is more pet-friendly than most of our country’s citadels to conservation. There are a few simple rules to follow to keep everyone safe and happy, and by observing them you and your dog can discover the wonders of Yosemite side-by-side.

Get an early start, crush the rush arriving before 10:22 AM and take advantage of the scenic vista points on your approach to Yosemite. Snap that holiday card portrait at Tunnel View before dropping into the granite ooh-la-la of Yosemite Valley. It’s just a short hop to your next stop: Bridalveil Fall, where the dog-approved path takes you to the base of this beauty. (Note: Bridalveil Fall trail is temporarily closed for construction.)

In Yosemite, leashed dogs are allowed on most fully paved roads, sidewalks, parking areas and bicycle paths unless there is a sign that specifically forbids them.  Pavement is the general rule of paw.  Many of Yosemite Valley’s greatest hits are in full view from paved paths. Tunnel View, Glacier Point, Half Dome, and Yosemite Falls all offer pet-friendly panoramas where leashed pets are welcome.

Yes, Yosemite is for pet lovers with a surprising level of access. For the full scoop, check out Visiting Yosemite with Your Pet.

Paw tip: You’ll need to refuel at some stage of your day, and the Village Grill is a wag-worthy valley location with an expansive outdoor deck made for water bowls.

Day 3: Yosemite’s Underdogs

Woman and her dog on the Hite Cove trail.

Pets are welcome on several scenic trails in and near Yosemite National Park that let you see many of the park’s most iconic sights, like this trail at Hite Cove overlooking the South Fork of the Merced River.

Yosemite National Park is over 1,100 square miles, roughly the size of the state of Rhode Island, and for all its corner-to-corner glory, most visitors do not venture far beyond the valley. Expand the boundaries for you and doggo, and savor some of the places less traveled.

The historic in-park hamlet of Wawona lies on Highway 41, midway between the park’s south gate and Yosemite Valley.  Wawona’s mid-elevation location provided a four-season refuge for pioneers and early travelers heading to Yosemite Valley.  Today it’s a gorgeous bowl of Sierra beauty. The Wawona Meadow Loop Trail is way under the radar and one of Yosemite National Park’s very best places to walk with your four-legged friend.  The 3.5-mile trail starts across from the Wawona Hotel and orbits one of Yosemite’s largest meadows, including a small section of the Wawona Golf Course. In spring it’s dancing with wildflowers and come autumn, the trees along the path alight with fall colors framed by firs.

John Muir once described Hetch Hetchy Valley as “a grand landscape garden, one of Nature’s rarest and most precious mountain temples.” Even in the summer, when visitors from around the world are exploring Yosemite Valley, relatively few make it to this northwest corner of the national park. O’Shaughnessy Dam, at Hetch Hetchy’s west end, showcases Hetch Hetchy’s waterfalls, rock formations, and reservoir. Dogs are permitted at the dam parking lot where some of the finest views are on display.

In northern Yosemite along Tioga Road, Olmsted Point overlooks Yosemite Valley to offer a unique perspective. Half Dome, from a different angle than the classic hero shot, is a revelation.  Tioga Road is open to cars from late May/early June to November-ish, depending on first significant snowfall. Wander among the so-called “erratic” boulders that stagger around the area, giant chunks of granite that were left behind when the last glacier came through.

Paw tip: Consider closing out your day at Olmsted Point, in the presence of one of the park’s best sunset vistas.

Day 4: Barking Ways

Dog with owner on a hiking trail

Hit the trails with your four-legged friends.

All vacations come to a close, or else we’d all be living a dog’s life! Enjoy your getaway day to its fullest with an early java start at River Rock Inn’s pet-friendly Sticks Coffee, serving locally-roasted small batch coffee and baked treats.

Ready to get some ya-ya’s out before heading back? Properly revved-up dogs can go APD (All-Paw-Drive) in the Sierra National Forest, featuring five designated wilderness areas within its expansive boundary.  Access the forest via Highways 140 or 41. Dogs need to be leashed and control at all times. Nearby Stanislaus National Forest features similar status.  Abundant recreational opportunities earn each forest its reps as dog – and outdoor- lover’s wonderlands.

Paw tip: A proper lunch on the way home might be the best tonic to soften your reentry to life back home.  Heading west, the Coulter Café & General Store is a gold nugget in tiny and charming Coulterville, with a metro foodie menu and gorgeous dog-delightful  patio. Southbound travelers can pull over in Fish Camp for al Fido lunch at Timberloft Pizzeria at Tenaya Lodge with its brick-oven artisanal pizzas.

Dog Houses

Finding the perfect dog house can be a challenge in some destinations, but Yosemite Mariposa County has a bounty of pet-friendly places to stay, ranging from four-diamond resorts to beautiful vacation rentals.  Book early to max your Yosemite Mariposa County lodging options!

Winner of a Sunset Travel Award for Best Resort for Pets, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is located in Fish Camp, just a few miles from Yosemite’s South Gate entrance and set among 50 wild acres of Sierra National Forest. Stay in a dog-friendly Explorer Cabin and roll over with joy. Tenaya Lodge’s fetching accommodations, amenities and packages even include dog massage with organic paw balm at the property’s renowned Ascent Spa.

No need to ruff it. Fur family members welcome at the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite and other great lodging options in Yosemite Mariposa County!

AutoCamp Yosemite is located in foresty Midpines, with proximity to Yosemite National Park’s Arch Rock Gate on all-season Highway 140.  Here, your accommodations are dog-friendly Airstream suites and luxurious tents.

Downtown Mariposa’s River Rock Inn has pet-designated rooms, suites, and private grass patches for… well, you know.  Just remember here and in the entire county, take only memories and leave only pawprints!

Dogs are permitted 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.

Paw tip: Dog-friendly vacation homes and cabins take it to another level of privacy and space to stretch out.

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