The official start to autumn occurs in just a few days. This is one of my most favorite times of the year: the changing color of tree leaves, the crisp morning air, the cool reflections on waterways, and the intense hues of sunrises and sunsets…. all teaming together to create a magical season.
Autumn can be a time of fun travel, especially to enjoy nature. In the west, where I live, the majestic elk put on a show with displays of sights and sounds. Bugles and bellows echo across canyons and forests as males vie for the affections of females. Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone national parks reverberated with this eons-old mating ritual, bringing people from across the world to witness the performances. Recently, my family and I trekked to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado for the festive colors of the plant-life and majestic matches of the animal-life. We’ve taken similar trips to Yellowstone. Each experience is memorable, especially when including our pets.
Estes Park, the community gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, is very dog-friendly. From accommodations and eating establishments to gift shops and walking paths, one will find “Dogs Welcome Here” signs posted. Many a person I encountered browsing shops along the town’s main streets had dog on leash. Estes also has a dog park where Fido can run and play, unrestrained by a leash.
According to an article published earlier this year by the Chicago Tribune, nearly 40 percent of travelers bring their pets along for the journey, up significantly during the past decade. Therefore, communities such as Estes Park which embrace travelers and their furry friends, will likely receive a many-bones rating for its hospitality.
Sunset Magazine recently listed some top dog-friendly destinations in the West, including several communities in Washington, Oregon, and California.
Although pets are restricted in America’s national parks, this year being the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service would be a wonderful opportunity to enjoy these unique, beautiful places – in particular, during this special season of autumn. So, why not plan a journey to witness the striking autumn colors in New England or Great Smokey National Park or listen to the bugling elk in Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, or Teton national parks? Hop on websites such as BringFido.com or GoPetFriendly.com to find lodging, restaurants, and activities that welcome pets.
Find your national park this season. Or visit another natural area during this incredible autumn. And don’t forget your best four-footed friend, who is now welcome in more places than ever!
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.