Pets in Yellowstone National Park? 4 Yellowstone Rules for Pets | Big Horn Basin Media

Pets in Yellowstone National Park? 4 Yellowstone Rules for Pets

Written by on April 30, 2023

Can You Travel with Pets in Yellowstone National Park?

Whether it’s a dog, cat, or other four-legged friend, many of us wouldn’t dream of embarking on a road trip without our most loyal companion. But you may not know that when it comes to traveling with pets in Yellowstone National Park, there are some very specific regulations you must follow.

These rules are well-reasoned and exist so all visitors can get the most out of their time in Yellowstone, but for pet owners, regulations can prove limiting. It’s important to know what you can and can’t do with pets in Yellowstone before you visit.

So, let’s have a look at the National Park Service’s rules for traveling with pets in Yellowstone.

1. Pets in Yellowstone Must Remain in Certain Areas

Don’t expect to explore the backcountry with your dog. Pets in Yellowstone must remain in developed areas only. Within these developed areas, you have to keep your pet within 100 feet of parking lots, roads, and campgrounds.

That means you can’t take your pets on hiking trails, boardwalks, or in thermal areas. This is to protect your pets and ensure other visitors can enjoy Yellowstone without disruption.

However, outside the park, there are all kinds of places to enjoy the great outdoors with your pets. In particular, these five can’t-miss stops between Yellowstone National Park and the city of Cody, Wyoming, are excellent places to start.

2. Keep Pets in Yellowstone Under Your Control at All Times

The National Park Service emphasizes that you must keep your pet physically controlled at all times; no exceptions.

That means either keeping pets inside your vehicle, in a crate, or on a leash. In addition, leashes must be no longer than six feet.

You cannot leave your pet unattended for any amount of time. That includes leaving them tied up at a bench or signpost, for example, while you use the restroom or grab a bite to eat.

3. Pets in Yellowstone Must Be Cared for Properly

Hopefully, you aren’t that person who leaves your pet in a vehicle with the windows rolled up on a hot summer day. If you are, you’re probably better off leaving your pet at home while you visit Yellowstone.

Per park regulations, pets in Yellowstone must always have their basic needs met. That means you can never leave your pet “in a situation where food, water, shade, ventilation, and other basic needs are inadequate,” according to the National Park Service.

Sure, you could leave your pet inside a vehicle for a short period of time. But it’s best to make sure someone stays behind to keep an eye on your pet.

Leaving your pet unattended to fend for itself is a surefire way to have an unpleasant conversation with a park ranger.

4. You Must Bag and Dispose of Pet Waste

Most of us do this when we’re at home anyway, so this is a pretty easy one to comply with. Don’t be that person who just lets their dog relieve itself on the sidewalk, then strolls off without consideration for others.

Since you’ll be keeping your pets in certain developed areas of the park, you’ll never be far from a bin or trash can to dispose of your pet’s waste.

Other Considerations for Pets in Yellowstone

Keep in mind that the regulations make no exceptions for carried pets, including those in a stroller, carrier, backpack, and the like.

Why do these rules exist? Well, just like most rules, it’s because people have made them necessary. For example, your dog may not know that the water in hot springs is scalding. To prevent injury, the park service doesn’t allow any pets in thermal areas.

Since the park is wild, there are also many predators that could pose a threat to any off-leash or unattended pets. That’s why pets are only allowed in certain areas and must be leashed at all times — for their safety, and to prevent them from antagonizing wildlife.

Pro Tip: Yellowstone is bear country, so whether you’re traveling with pets in Yellowstone or not, these crucial Yellowstone bear safety tips are definitely worth reviewing before you travel.

It’s also important to realize that visitors don’t come to Yellowstone to see other people’s pets. They’re there to enjoy the sights and sounds of America’s first national park, and the courteous thing to do is ensure that pets in Yellowstone don’t cause disruptions.

In addition to being a considerate pet owner, here’s a list of tips on how to enjoy Yellowstone responsibly.

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