It makes you nutso sometimes when the mailbag reveals recent posts like these:
"Mostly EVERY beach in Nova Scotia allows dogs. I have been there with mine many summers... and have never found a mess left by any dog owner and everyone seems to be able to control their pets. Adults, children and dogs spend many happy hours together on the beaches... the way it SHOULD be. WHY do we have such restrictions in the States? It makes if very hard for people who travel with their pets.. and my dog is small. Sometimes it makes me want to cry when I see an obnoxious child kicking sand in peoples faces.. and my little poodles is not allowed on the beach at all."
"I just read on your site that dogs are allowed on the Tower Trail, at Devils Tower Nat. Monument, Wyoming. I was just there yesterday, 31 March 2011, and they are NOT allowed on the Tower Trail, only in the parking lot area near the visitors center."
Devil's Tower is one of America's more remote national monuments, seen by most people only in CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. It is not a park that is going to be frequented by a local canine hiking club. It is a place that people have to travel out of their way to get to. The Tower Trail is paved and the hiking experience is akin to walking around your local recreation park, only in the middle is one of our great natural wonders instead of softball and soccer players. It's a little over a mile and if you stop and take a lot of pictures and really take your time you might take as long as 45 minutes to an hour to finish the trail. It is hard to imagine why this experience should be denied to dog owners.
Along those lines I put together a list of American national parks that dog owners can actually experience just like every other visitor.
1 - Congaree Swamp National Park (South Carolina)
Dogs are permitted on all the park's wooded trails save for a stretch of boardwalk through the swamp. But at this point the park has created a Dog Trail to enable hikers with dogs to experience the swamp. I don't know of any other national park with such a tail-friendly trail.
2 - Cuyahoga National Park (Ohio)
How many people have Cleveland pencilled in for a summer weekend get-away? If you're a dog owner maybe you should. More than 30,000 acres along the banks of the Cuyahoga river have been cobbled together for this 21st century national park. Long woodland walks - check. Waterfalls - check. Outrageous rock formations - check. Romps through rolling hillside meadows - check. Historic hikes - check. A variety of easy rambles - check. Cuyahoga has it all.
3 - Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas)
OK, you dog isn't welcome inside the bathhouses but for everything outside - including the ride on the Duck Boat on Lake Hamilton - you can do it with your dog along with everyone else. That includes 30 miles of top-notch hiking trails through the surrounding mountains, many on carriage paths carved for visitors who were encouraged to walk daily in addition to their baths as part of an all-encompassing healthy routine at the spas.
4 - Acadia National Park (Maine)
Speaking of carriage paths, America's finest were ordered by John D. Rockefeller for his estate on the Maine coast. Acadia is the dog-friendliest of the crown jewels in America's national park system and your dog can enjoy the sunrises atop Cadillac Mountain and other famous walks in the park.
5- Shenandoah National Park (Virginia)
America's most-visited national park - the Blue Ridge Parkway - is bookended by two national parks: Great Smoky in the south and Shenandoah in the north. Dogs are not allowed on the trails in Great Smoky National Park; dogs are allowed on all but 20 or so miles of the 500+ miles of trail in Shenandoah National Park. Don't waste your time trying to figure it out - just take your dog to Shenandoah.
RETURN TO APRIL 2011 NEWSLETTER
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