Most national parks aren’t dog friendly, and for good reason. These parks are there to protect wildlife, and dogs’ barking and marking can disrupt the ecosystem built there. Native animals can be vulnerable to diseases some dogs can carry as well. So if you stumble across a pet-friendly national park, dogs are usually allowed only on paved roads, campgrounds, and developed areas.
Yosemite National Park is a decently dog friendly one, since almost the entirety of Yosemite Valley has paved roads. So while you won’t be able to bring your dog on some of the longer hikes in the park, you’ll still be able to enjoy a day at the national park with your pet fam and hit all the main attractions!
One of the first viewpoints when entering the park is Tunnel View. If you visit the park earlier in the morning, the glare from the sun makes it harder to take good photos since the view faces northeast. I’d recommend hitting this spot again on your way out of the park or simply looping back later in the afternoon. See below for shots from the morning and mid-afternoon. It’s actually a big difference!
Just a stop along the main road, you’ll see El Capitan towering overhead. You’ll see cars parked alongside, plus some paved roads you can enjoy with your dog.
There’s a bike path that loops all through Yosemite Valley, which passes through the Swinging Bridge. Here is where you’ll get your first view of Yosemite Falls from the distance. The water here is crystal clear and you’ll find kids playing in the water and some hang gliders.
The Visitor’s Center and shop is closed due to covid right now, but there are information booths right outside to help you out. The paths all around the center are pet friendly since they are paved roads. Don’t forget your national parks stamp!
One of the trails that dogs can join you on is a short trek to Lower Yosemite Falls. It’s about a mile loop if you start from the shuttle bus stop, and I’d recommend you start off going clockwise. It’s not shaded at all in the beginning as you walk towards the falls, but the latter half of the loop is partially shaded from the forest trees. The pavement here can get really hot so make sure to carry your pup or have her wear booties!
For the best view in the house, head on over to Glacier Point. It’s about an hour drive from inside Yosemite Valley, and it’s also recommended to come in the afternoon or later when the sun is behind you. Here you’ll get stunning views of the iconic Half Dome. Dogs are allowed anywhere that has paved roads too, so they can also enjoy the sunshine and breeze!
Other Dog Friendly Attractions / Hikes
Some other dog friendly attractions we didn’t get to hit are:
- Bridalveil Falls – It’s just a short loop to the base of the waterfall that you see from Tunnel View.
- Cook’s Meadow – Paved roads loop around Yosemite Valley where you can get views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Sentinel Rock.
- Mirror Lake / Mirror Meadow – Dog are allowed on the first mile trek. The paved road ends at the lake so you’d need to turn back around, but you can still follow along the Merced River.