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!
Since we're on the subject of traveling with pets, let's consider visiting national parsk with our pets. Summer visitation at many of America’s national parks is in full swing. People are sometimes unaware of the rules involving pets and pet owners at these national treasures. As I prepare to embark upon a Grand Teton and Yellowstone adventure very soon, and a fall excursion to several Utah parks later this year, now is a great time to review these guidelines.
Pets are welcome in our country’s national parks and can hang out with their humans at picnic areas and campgrounds. However, there are some places they cannot go and there are rules that travelers with pets should be aware of. Those include:
Speaking of accommodations, are there places inside the parks that allow people to stay with their pets other than the campgrounds? In some cases, yes. Hotel accommodations in Yellowstone, for example, are not pet-friendly, but a few of the cabin facilities inside the park do allow pets. Additionally, just outside the national parks’ boundaries are gateway communities in which many hotels can be found, and many of those are pet-friendly. Prepare in advance to review the communities’ lodging options and investigate ahead of time whether or not pets are welcome. Look and book in advance!
Although the parks have similar guidelines because they are federal entities, different parks may have some different pet policies. To learn about the regulations in the park you’d like to visit, log onto the National Park Service’s website at www.nps.gov, find the park you’re interested in, and review that park’s particulars regarding pets.
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.