Skip to Content

Are Dogs Allowed In Glacier National Park?

Are Dogs Allowed In Glacier National Park?

Here we will focus on one park located in Montana. You may be wondering are dogs allowed in Glacier National Park.

This vast wilderness does offer a substantial number of hiking trails to check out, but can your dog come with you?

It may come as a surprise to some individuals, but there are a whole host of rules and regulations regarding your dog with various national parks.

So, if you plan on venturing to one, then being aware of those rules in advance does make a lot of sense.

The Answer

The answer is something of a mix. The rules regarding dogs in the national park are split into different areas of the park.

For some, your dog is allowed, but if you plan on hiking in the backcountry, which is one of the main reasons why people go there, then your dog is not allowed.

That in itself may put you off going there with your dog. It’s also slightly disappointing because you probably love your dog running alongside you as you hike.

The fact that Glacier National Park has decided that this should not be the case is sad to hear.

But as we said, the answer is a mix. Thankfully, the national park is pretty clear on where dogs are free to walk around, and also where it is against the rules to have them. So, there is no sense of making a mess of things from your perspective. 

But exactly how much they enforce this is difficult to say. After all, this park is vast, but it’s still best to follow the rules wherever possible.

glacier national park

It’s Not Just the Glacier National Park

But while the Glacier National Park is not exactly dog-friendly, this is not something unique to this individual park. Instead, it’s more common across national parks than most people realize.

It just appears the case that these parks do not enjoy people roaming around with their dogs by their side.

It is the complete opposite to national parks in Canada where dogs roam around with their owner, and with very few restrictions placed upon them.

So, while it’s disappointing to find out you cannot simply do what you want with your dog, you would get the same response almost anywhere else.

But then, they do have a number of rules, and not just one simply stating your dog cannot enter. So, what do the rules say, and how well implemented are they?

Where Dogs Can Enter

In the case of this national park, your dog can venture into any area classed as a developed area. That means car parks, picnic areas, campgrounds in the front country, and even in boats that are on the lake.

It does mean there is some scope for your dog to be with you, but it does restrict your ability to roam freely with your dog by your side.

There is Only One Trail

While this sounds doom and gloom, there is one trail open to you hiking along with your dog in tow, and that is the McDonald Creek Bike Path. However, note that this rule only applies when the trail is not covered in snow.

The trail itself extends for 2.5 miles, and it does have a paved surface. It will offer some pretty spectacular sights to see, but at least it does provide an opportunity to get out there with your dog and enjoy some fresh air together.

But keep in mind your dog must have a leash and be physically restrained at all times. You cannot allow them to roam as they like while on the trail.

That is strictly against the rules since you must maintain absolute control over your dog.

Where They Are Not Allowed

But you must also keep in mind there are various parts of the park where your dog is just not allowed, even when they are on their leash. 

First, you cannot take your dog into any building. The only dogs that can enter a building are assistance dogs.

Also, you cannot take them on the backcountry trails, as we mentioned previously, and you also cannot take them along the lakeshore if it is outwith a developed area.

But one final rule regarding access. If they close a road normally used for vehicles for any reason, it then becomes known as a backcountry road.

At that point, your dog is no longer allowed on that road even though it would have had access when it was a normal road.

What is clear is the national park does come with a number of restrictions for your dog. While this does disappoint, the park itself notes the existence of boarding kennels close to the park. Where you can leave your dog to provide you with the freedom of exploring.

dogs in park

But Why The Restrictions?

The national parks state they restrict access in this way to help protect nature, and also the wildlife that exists.

Of course, in the case of the Glacier National Park, you are talking about animals such as Grizzlies and wolves, but smaller animals also exist, and they do not want your dog scaring the wildlife.

But there’s also the issue of protecting hikers and people seeking to enjoy the park. Not everyone feels comfortable with a loose dog bounding up to them out of the blue, so they seek to stop this from happening wherever possible.

By restricting you to known areas, your dog cannot surprise people in the same way. Everyone knows dog owners may appear in these areas, so there is a sense of feeling prepared and knowing a friendly pooch may want some attention from strangers walking by.

Other Rules

On top of where you can and cannot take your dog, you do have several other rules you need to adhere to whenever you take your dog into the Glacier National Park.

The first thing is the leash. You must keep them on it at all times, and it must also not extend beyond 6 feet in length. So, if you have an extendable lead, then best not to use it. 

Physical restraints are essential, and if your dog is in the back of an open pick-up truck, then your dog must be kept in a cage.

This ensures they cannot escape and end up roaming the park while you try to locate them. The law also intends to keep the rest of the public safe.

If there is a need to leave your dog unattended, then you cannot simply tie them to a post or object and leave them alone.

If you do need to leave them unattended, then place your dog back in your vehicle. There is no other option available in this instance.

dog at glacier national park

Picking Up After Your Dog

Aside from keeping them under control at all times. You must also pick up after your dog if they make a mess.

Of course, this is something you should do automatically. But the Glacier National Park has made it an actual law for you to follow.

All you need to do is to pick it up. Then use one of the many trash bins in the area. They have no problem with the waste going in these bins.

So don’t just leave it lying around for someone else to deal with. That won’t go down well.


The park also has rules regarding noise. They understand that dogs make noise, but they do not like when a dog produces what is deemed as excessive noise. That is when the noise starts to disturb the peace and enjoyment of others. 

If this does occur, and if someone reports it, then you may find yourself in a situation where the park expects you to leave. 

Avoid Keeping Your Dog In Your Vehicle

But a word of warning here. If you feel tempted to place your dog back in your vehicle while you go off on a hike, then please don’t. 

It takes next to no time for the temperature inside the vehicle to climb to dangerous heights, and the life and safety of your dog are at risk. 

During a number of months of the year, the park can easily have temperatures in the region of 90 degrees. That means the inside of your vehicle will exceed that temperature. Your dog is at risk of dying as a result, even if you left a window open slightly to allow some air inside.

So, do not take the risk. It is not worth the life of your dog just to allow yourself to go for a hike. It’s best to leave them at home, or even in a boarding kennel nearby if you wish to explore the area on foot.

Overall Conclusion

The Glacier National Park does allow you to take your dog to the park, but with a number of very clear limitations. If you thought you would find yourself exploring nature with your faithful pooch by your side, then think again.

Instead, you only have access to very set areas, and while it does mean you can go there for a picnic, you cannot simply wander off and see what else is out there. At that point, you need to either have someone else looking after your dog or just not take them along.

Sharing is caring!