Yosemite National Park in California is one of the most spectacular national parks in the United States. While your options are limited if you are visiting Yosemite with a dog, there’s still plenty to see and do, as long as you’re happy to skip most hiking trails. Find out more about what you should do when visiting Yosemite with your dog, plus where to stay and dine.
Where Are Dogs Allowed in Yosemite National Park?
Pet dogs are only allowed to accompany you in certain parts of Yosemite National Park, like when visiting all national parks in the US. Pets are only allowed in developed areas of the park, on fully paved roads, sidewalks and bicycle paths (except if otherwise signposted) and in the regular campgrounds (not walk-in or group campgrounds).
On the other hand, dogs are not allowed on any hiking trails in the park, including the trail to Vernal Fall (even the paved section), except the Wawona Meadow Loop. Dogs are also not allowed on shuttle buses, inside public buildings, in lodging areas, and in undeveloped and wilderness areas, including meadows.
While visiting Yosemite National Park with your dog, they should be kept on a leash, no longer than six foot, and not be left unattended.
Previously, a kennel was available during the summer months in the park at Yosemite Valley Stable, but this kennel is now closed. Alternatively, kennels and dog-sitting are offered at Tenaya Lodge, see below, just outside the park.
Reservations for Yosemite National Park
Once again in 2024, you will need to make a reservation to visit Yosemite National Park during the peak season. This applies between on selected dates between February and October, particularly on weekends. See this page for a list of dates and to make a reservation. This applies even when simply driving through the national park.
Dog-Friendly Lookouts at Yosemite
One of the highlights of a visit to Yosemite with your dog will be driving through the park and taking in the beautiful vistas, one of the reasons Yosemite is one of the most popular national parks in the United States.
The scenic drive through Yosemite Valley is particularly impressive, with views of the magnificent El Capitan and multiple waterfalls, depending on the season, plus the pretty Merced River that winds through the valley.
Make sure you stop and get out at Bridalveil Fall, with the viewing point reached by the short paved Bridalveil Fall Trail, which dogs are allowed to accompany you on. The falls are at their best in early Spring, however, they can be flowing year-round thanks to the wetland area above the falls.
Nearby on the road are multiple beautiful viewpoints for the majestic El Capitan, towering over the Yosemite Valley. Almost 3000 feet tall from base to summit, sometimes rock climbers can be seen attempting the near vertical rockface.
When leaving Yosemite Valley, whether heading to Glacier Point or Wawona, stop and take in the view from the Tunnel View Lookout. The lookout is located just before the Wawona Tunnel and offers views of the entire Yosemite Valley.
After being closed during 2022 for road maintenance, the road to Glacier Point has again re-opened in 2023, although construction delays are still occurring on weekdays. This long winding road will reward you with magnificent vistas over vast areas of wilderness and Half Dome.
Dogs are allowed to accompany you on the short walk at the lookout point. Don’t forget to get plenty of photos, especially if the weather is as sunny and clear as on the day we visited!
Dog-Friendly Trails in Yosemite
In addition to driving and stopping at lookouts, there are also a small number of walks, generally short trails, that you can do with your dog at Yosemite. Remember to keep your dog leashed at all times, on a leash no longer than six foot.
Check out these dog-friendly trails…
#1 Lower Yosemite Falls Trail
Probably the most popular dog-friendly hike in Yosemite National Park is the walk to Lower Yosemite Falls. Despite the falls being dry for part of the year, including when we visited in November, it’s still a pretty spot, and the path passes through gorgeous groves of trees.
An easy, flat walk that starts near the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, the Lower Yosemite Fall Loop is only one mile long and takes about 20 minutes to complete, not including time for photos. The paved walking track is also accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
Extend the walk with a stroll on the boardwalk through Cook’s Meadow, as well as more views of Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America, there are also views of Half Dome and Sentinel Rock.
#2 Mirror Lake Paved Trail
Another walking track that is dog-friendly in the Yosemite Valley is the Mirror Lake Paved Trail. Dogs are welcome on the initial paved section of this trail, which is also popular for bicycle riding. Return once you reach Mirror Lake, with the return walk just over 2 miles in length.
#3 Wawona Meadow Loop Trail
In the southern section of Yosemite National Park, near the Wawona Visitor Center, is the Wawona Meadow Loop Trail. This trail is the only unpaved hiking trail that dogs are allowed on in the park.
The 3.5 mile trail is relatively flat and circles around one of the largest meadows in Yosemite. The trail is particularly beautiful in Spring, when wildflowers blossom, plus during the Fall when the trees change color.
Can Dogs Visit the Mariposa Grove?
In the southern part of Yosemite National Park one of the top attractions is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, home to the Giant Grizzly and other towering Sequoias. Unfortunately, this attraction is off-limit to dogs. If you’re wanting to visit, it’s best to leave your dog behind for the day or take turns to visit.
Instead, consider hiking to the less popular Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias. From the parking lot on Tioga Road, just east of Crane Flat, it’s a 2.5 mile round trip. Pets are allowed on the paved trail through the grove, but not on the side trails. Allow about 90 minutes for the hike.
Dog-Friendly Restaurants at Yosemite
If you don’t bring along your own picnic lunch when visiting Yosemite, one of the dog-friendly dining spots in the Valley is the Village Grill. Located in the Yosemite Village and with a large outdoor deck, the restaurant is open seasonally – double check whether it will be open when you visit.
An alternative spot that is open January to November and during holidays is the Curry Village Pizza Deck. This restaurant also has a large outdoor deck, but double check that pets are allowed. Both whole pizzas and pizza by the slice is available. Be prepared for long queues in the winter months due to limited options being open.
Outside of Yosemite, 1850 Restaurant is located in the town of Mariposa. Open for lunch and dinner from Wednesday to Sunday, it has a covered outdoor patio where dogs are welcome. Also onsite is a brewery, offering up a range of flagship and seasonal brews.
Dog-Friendly Accommodation at Yosemite
There are a wide range of dog-friendly accommodation options available at Yosemite and just outside of the park, from camping to pet-friendly hotels. There are also a number of pet-friendly cabins to rent.
Dog-Friendly Camping in Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park contains multiple campgrounds. Except for the walk-in (including Camp 4) and group campgrounds, pet dogs are allowed to stay with you in all of them.
Different campgrounds have different opening dates and facilities. Most but not all require reservations, with North Pines operating an early access lottery. If camping in Yosemite, make sure you are careful to properly store pet food to keep it safe from bears, the same as human food.
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
While none of the lodges in Yosemite allow pets, instead consider staying at the upscale Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite, just outside the South Gate entrance.
Book a Fido Friendly Room package, which includes accommodation in a Premium Lodge Room or Cottage Room, the one-time pet fee of $100 for up to two dogs, and a dog bed and dog bowls for use during your stay. Alternatively, splurge on a Deluxe Pampered Pet Package, with a toy, treats and pet sitting also included.
Direct bookings are essential. Generally only two well-mannered dogs are permitted per room, with special permission required for dogs over 70 pounds. A onsite kennel is available at Tanaya Lodge, plus selected tables in the restaurants have been designated as dog-friendly.
Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort
Another more rustic option for staying near Yosemite with your pet is the Yosemite Bug Mountain Rustic Resort. Just north of Mariposa, it’s a 45 minute drive from the resort to the Yosemite Valley.
We stayed in one of the tent cabins at the resort, an affordable option near Yosemite. Selected regular tent cabins and superior private rooms have been designated as dog-friendly. Look for the rooms designated as “Dog Friendly” when booking.
An additional one-off fee of $60 applies. Only one dog is permitted per room, with dogs not allowed on the furniture or to be left unattended.
Another dog-friendly camping option also near Mariposa is AutoCamp Yosemite, a boutique campsite with accommodation options including Airstream Suites, luxury tents and accessible cabins.
Note that only selected options are dog-friendly, including some but not all of the luxury tents – indicate that you’ll be bringing along your pup. Up to two well-behaved dogs under 80lbs (36kg) are permitted to join you, with an additional fee of $75 charged per stay.
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About the Author
Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.
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