camping across yellowstone national park

Fuel up the RV, pack your tent, and throw in an extra car blanket for your best furry friend! Camping with dogs is one of the best activities pet parents can enjoy. It’s fun for both you and your pup to get out of town and embark on a wilderness road trip. There’s no better way to feel more connected with yourself than connecting with nature.

If you have a bucket list of your adventure destinations, there’s a good chance Yellowstone National Park is on it! The grandeur of the Rocky Mountains is unparalleled. Starting at Grand Teton National Park and making your way through YNP is an incredible journey for the intrepid road tripper and their canine companion. 

However, many campers are surprised to learn that Yellowstone is less dog friendly than one might expect. Due to the need to preserve our national parks, the forest service has instituted some ground rules for travelers, many of which restrict the areas dogs are allowed in. Here are the basics to know before you go:

  • Are dogs allowed inside Yellowstone National Parks?

        Yes, but with limitations.

  • Are dogs allowed on trails and boardwalks?

        Typically, no, although there are a few exceptions to this rule that are worth highlighting (and we did!)

  • What about leash laws?

        Dogs must be on leash at all times while inside YNP.

  • Are camp sites and RV parks dog friendly?

        Fortunately, the answer to this one is resounding yes! The majority of camp sites and RV parks within YNP and the surrounding areas (West Yellowstone, Gardiner, Idaho Falls).

  • Are there any dog friendly cafes or restaurants within the park?

        No. You will want to make sure your dog is safe and secure at camp before heading out to eat or opt to pack your own meals. Preparing your own food is also a great way to save yourself from the lunch and dinner hour rush!

  • Are there any other restrictions dog owners should be aware of?

        Dogs must remain within 100 feet of park roads, parking areas, or campgrounds at all times. Keep this in mind when venturing off the beaten path to take in the views and wildlife. Be respectful of posted signs indicating “no dog” areas and always clean up after your pet.

While all these rules may sound like a lot to take in, there are still plenty of reasons to visit Yellowstone National Park with your best furry friend. The key to enjoying the full YNP experience is planning. So sit back, relax, and get ready for an unforgettable journey. We’ve created the ultimate road trip guide for your YNP + BFF adventure!

On the Road Again

The best part of visiting YNP is the sheer size of the park. Because of this, it’s easy to enjoy a full tour by RV or car. This is true whether you’re traveling with or without a dog. You won’t miss much by staying off the trails and sticking to the main road. In fact, you’ll be hard pressed to see everything the park has to offer in a weekend or even a week!

For starters, we would highly recommend beginning your journey on the Wyoming side of the park. Grand Teton National Park features awe inspiring mountains that will satisfy your Instagram worthy vacation photo fix. While YNP is more of a wilderness preserve, Teton’s rugged terrain is distinct. It’s well worth the extra miles, especially if you’re planning to RV camp. You can save money by purchasing a dual park pass for only $50, or stick to an individual Yellowstone pass for $30.

Once you hit Yellowstone, it’s time to embark on the famous Grand Loop. This scenic drive tours all of YNP’s major attractions and intersects with several camp sites along the way. The full loop is roughly 10-12 hours, so load up on snacks and plenty of water for you and your dog! Make sure to take a rest break often for your pup to stretch their legs.

Old Faithful Geyser

Don’t let the “no dogs on board walks” rule keep you away from this iconic geyser! This attraction is actually one of the most dog friendly spots and a great place to take a break. Dogs are allowed all the way up to the viewing area where benches and shaded grass abound. Snap a selfie with your canine road warrior in front of the Old Faithful sign!

It’s a good idea to travel with a human friend as well and alternate dogsitting duties while one of you runs inside the cafe or lodge to grab a quick bite to eat. You won’t be the only traveler dining on the benches. Most don’t want to miss a second of Old Faithful’s water show by dining in! 

Old Faithful Lodge is also pet friendly and many of the areas nearby are quite accommodating.

Roaring Mountain

True to name, the steam emitting fumaroles along this hillside can be heard from several miles away. A convenient viewing spot is located just off the main loop.

Bull elk and bison also populate this area. If you’re lucky, your dog may just have a close encounter with the local wildlife inspecting the windows of your car! Of course, if you’re out and about, be sure to keep your dog securely leashed to avoid any encounters that may be a bit too close for comfort.

Gallatin and Washburn Mountains

As you continue on north, you’ll enjoy amazing mountain views from the comfort of your RV or car. Grasslands and alpine lakes abound this windy road. Crank up the radio and howl away!

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone

This is another great stop for canine travelers. The entirety of the canyon can be viewed within 100 feet of the road, featuring break taking waterfalls and an impressive depth of 1,200 feet. If you’re feeling hungry, the canyon is an excellent place for a roadside picnic.

Hayden Valley

If you haven’t gotten your wildlife fix yet, Hayden Valley is the perfect place for bison viewing. Think of the valley as a drive through safari park for you and your best furry friend to enjoy.

Surrounding Areas

When it’s time to say goodbye to Yellowstone National Park, head out to some of the nearby towns. You’ll find great dog friendly dining options in West Yellowstone for a late night dinner or early morning cup of coffee. With a little ingenuity and the spirit of adventure, there’s no road you and your dog can’t conquer!

Have you and your dog traveled the Grand Loop? Tweet us your best RV companion pictures and keep driving!