We are living in age of canine liberation. Dogs are everywhere it seems – in stores, in cafes, in hotels, in plane cabins. Amtrak has just launched a pilot program to allow dogs on trains. Anyone want to bet that will be evaluated against widespread adoption? Yes, the days of dropping Snoopy off at the kennel before setting out on vacation have gone the way of the eight-tack tape.
Yet there is one place where dogs are not so welcome – our national parks. With rare exceptions dogs are not permitted on park hiking trails and are confined to parking lots and developed areas. The granddaddy of national parks, Yellowstone, is typical – pets are not permitted beyond 100 feet of roads, parking areas and campgrounds.
A general rule of thumb for pet owners is that dogs in national parks will only be allowed on paved surfaces. The Grand Canyon is no exception. But, happily for those traveling with dogs, Grand Canyon also boasts the most spectacular paved trail in America.
Dogs on the South Rim
Dogs are never allowed below the rim, in the inner canyon. But leashed dogs are welcome along the Rim Trail which traces the Grand Canyon for 12 miles. The one catch is that dogs are not permitted on the shuttle buses, unless your pet is a certified service animal, so that however far you walk out, you will also be walking back. But still, this is a rare opportunity for dog owners to explore in national parks.
The Grand Canyon is also one of the few national parks that offers kennel service inside the park. Rates at the South Rim Kennel range from $15 for cats to about $25 for large dogs. Proof of vaccination will be required before boarding and pets owners should know to carry such documentation any time they travel.
Dogs on the North Rim
The North Rim does not boast a kennel, nor an extended rim trail. Most of the trails here are backcountry so dogs are not allowed. The exception is the bridle trail that links the lodge to the North Kaibab Trail and a bit of the Arizona Trail around the park entrance station.
A Special Canine Treat
At the South Rim there is a dirt road that trips out to Shoshone Point on the Grand Canyon rim. This is a cherished spot reserved for special events such as weddings. It is not advertised in any of the park publications as it is a Special Use Permit area. But pet owners can inquire at any visitor center about Shoshone Point and if there are no events scheduled that day dogs are permitted to hike down the road. It is about a mile through a pinyon pine forest to a vantage point of the canyon few visitors see.
Well-behaved dogs are also welcome to sit in on ranger programs – as long as they are conducted outside during good weather. Animals are not permitted inside park structures.