National parks draw in thousands of visitors annually, making them a popular destination for travelers. Many people travel with their pet dogs in tow and hope to include them in their itineraries. However, dogs are usually not recommended in National Parks due to limited access. Traveling with your dog in a national park can be challenging but not impossible.
Exploring Sequoia National Park With Dogs
On a road trip around California, including a visit to Sequoia National Park, my dog was one of my travel companions. It was a winter trip, so heat was not a factor. I also traveled with a friend, making taking turns checking out sites easier while keeping my dog company. In reality, dogs will have to spend most of the visit inside vehicles or paved areas in Sequoia National Park. Here’s how to make the most of a Sequoia National Park visit with dogs.
Sequoia National Park Pet Regulations
Before visiting Sequoia National Park with a pet, it’s essential to understand the park’s pet policy. These rules and regulations exist to protect the park, its wildlife, and the safety of all pets and people. The National Parks Service asks all visitors with pets to abide by these regulations.
- Keep dogs off of the trails. This includes paved trails, such as the General Sherman Tree Trail, Big Trees Trail, and Grant Tree Trail.
- Leashed pets are allowed in parking lots, paved roads, campgrounds, and picnic areas.
- Pet backpacks and strollers are allowed in the four areas above where leashed pets are allowed.
- Clean up after pets and make sure to dispose in the proper places.
- Pets should be on leashes no longer than six feet in length and never left unattended.
- Properly store pet food in a secure, closed container without access to other animals.
- Don’t leave pets in hot cars, and do not leave them tied or unattended.
Driving the Park
Most stops inside Sequoia National Park won’t permit your pet outside of the car. Bringing a pet would only be best if they enjoy a car ride and the weather cooperates. I did my best to abide by the park’s rules and was able to leave my dog in the car in the parking lots. My friend and I took turns walking on the short trails to top sites while one stayed with her in the parking lot. This is the only way walking on the short trails worked for us.
A great place to start would be the main Foothills Visitor Center. Here, I was able to ask the rangers what I could do with my dog (which is not much) and learn a little about the park. They were able to provide me with some great recommendations in Three Rivers and pointed out the dog-friendly areas in the surrounding national forest areas. Driving the main road, we experienced Tunel Rock, Sequoia’s National Park Tunnel Log, Giant Forest Museum, and General Sherman and Grant trees.
There are still plenty of places to take a photo with your dog. While waiting for my friend to check out the short trails at each stop, I enjoyed taking pictures of my dog enjoying her first time in the snow. There are also several scenic overlooks in the park.
Pet-Friendly Areas Nearby
To find the most pet-friendly experiences near Sequoia National Park, venture over to the adjacent national forest areas. These areas are Sequoia National Forest and Giant Sequoia National Monument. They are administered by the U.S. Forest Services, and leashed dogs are allowed on trails in these areas. They offer many more areas for dogs and their humans to explore together.
One particular dog-friendly location recommended to me by the rangers was called Hume Lake, which is located inside the National Forest area. It’s an easy 2.6-mile trail around the lake, suitable for all members of the family. In warmer months, there are boating and kayaking options.
Dog-friendly trails in the National Forest include Dead Giant Loop Trail (7 miles) and the Weaver Lake Trail is 6.5 miles in and out and is best from June to October. The 4,600-acre Converse Basin Grove is accessible by a 2.5-mile trail. It houses the Boole Tree, the sixth largest sequoia tree in the world, at 269 feet tall and 113 feet in circumference. Much of the guidance on finding pet-friendly places to visit can be found using Dog Trekker and BringFido.com.
Kings Canyon Scenic Byway
Seasonally, visiting neighboring Kings Canyon National Park offers a driving option as well. The Kings Canyon Scenic Byway is a 50-mile drive through the park, descending into one of the deepest canyons in North America. There are pull-out spots to get out, stretch your legs, and enjoy with your dog. Most of Kings Canyon National Park and its roadways were closed during my winter trip.
Where To Stay
There are a variety of lodging options for visitors to choose from while visiting Sequoia National Park with dogs. This includes motels, inns, and vacation rentals in areas outside and camping inside the park. The town of Three Rivers, California, is located a quarter mile outside of the park’s entrance and features several pet-friendly properties.
For my trip, I chose the Buckeye Tree Lodge in Three Rivers, with a pet fee of $30 per pet per night. If you are not taking your dog on daily adventures, pets left in the rooms must be crated or kenneled. During our stay, the lodge provided a breakfast basket full of fruit and a doggie biscuit each morning. The property features an expansive grass area next to a creek with a pool and a tree swing. This was one of the best places I’ve ever stayed with my dog.
There is also a variety of pet-friendly VRBO and Airbnb options near the park, allowing for more accessible exploration and leaving the dog behind. About an hour from the park entrance lies the Sequoia Resort & RV Park, with no pet fees at RV sites. Dogs must be on a leash outside the RV and not left unattended. They also feature four rental cabins, allowing pets with an additional $50 fee.
Camping is a popular activity for visitors to the park, and the campgrounds are one of the few places inside the park where dogs are permitted. There are 14 campgrounds in the park, with two open year-round, and dogs must be leashed at all times. There is no dispersed camping permitted in the park.
National Parks, in general, are not pet-friendly. However, it’s possible to trek through the Sequoia National Park with dogs, keeping them in vehicles, in parking lots, and campgrounds. Heading to the nearby National Forest lands will provide a better experience for an adventurous pet while being mindful of the rules along the way.