Updated: 5 days ago
Contributor: Meredith Dennis
If you’re the kind of person who can’t stand the thought of leaving your fur baby home on your summer road trip, you’ll want to check out the new U.S. National Park Service BARK Ranger Program.
What Is the BARK Ranger Program?
The BARK Ranger program is designed to help visitors understand how to enjoy the park with their pets responsibly. To become a BARK Ranger you complete a short activity booklet which teaches you the principles of being a good dog owner in the park and then you’ll pledge to set a good example for other pet owners. Just like the Junior Ranger program, which is a program for kids to learn about the park, your pup will get “sworn in” by a ranger—in an insanely cute little ceremony--to officiate the occasion.
Some parks give dog tags or bandanas to their official BARK Rangers for free, and some parks sell these goodies for a small price. Each park with a BARK Ranger program has a unique dog tag, which makes collecting them fun.
What Does BARK Stand For?
Bag your waste: Bagging your dog’s waste isn’t just about keeping the park clean. Did you know the hormones in your pet’s waste can send “predator” signals to wildlife, which can stress them out?
Always wear a leash: Even “very good boys” must always have a leash to help avoid negative encounters with other dogs or wildlife.
Respect wildlife: Respecting wildlife means keeping your distance from it. A good rule of thumb is 50 yards, or half of a football field.
Know where you can go: Most parks have a “puppy paws on paved surfaces” policy, meaning that your pup is not allowed on dirt trails. However, there are exceptions to this so always ask a ranger if you’re not sure.
US national parks are considered the most beautiful travel destinations in the country, and every park has different rules when it comes to dogs. This is because each park is protecting a different type of resource. Historic parks in urban areas may be very dog friendly, while those that protect fragile wild ecosystems will be more restrictive.
Which Parks Have a BARK Ranger Program?
The BARK Ranger program is exploding in popularity and there are currently over 40 parks that have a BARK Ranger program. To find out if your park participates in the BARK Ranger program give a quick call to their visitor center.
Here is a quick list of some of the bigger parks with a BARK Ranger program. Visit the National Park Service website for a full list of parks with the program.
Acadia National Park
Grand Canyon National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Glacier National Park
Olympic National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park (this park does allow dogs to roam the dunes!)
Lake Mead National Recreation Area
Getting away from it all with your furry friend can be the ultimate form of self-care. Find out if there’s a BARK Ranger program at your closest national park and enjoy a fun and safe summer!
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