California has some of the best open spaces to sightsee and take in nature to the fullest with family and friends. Whether for the views from the mountains like Mount San Jacinto or walking barefoot along the beaches in San Diego, heading to the outdoors is good for body and soul, especially when you visit with your four-legged friend.
Dogs are welcome at most state parks, but not all of them.
To help visitors who wish to bring their dogs to state parks, the department created a webpage—parks.ca.gov/dogs—with information on which parks and areas allow dogs. The reason some state parks do not allow them is because the parks were established to protect and preserve resources of statewide significance, including unique, irreplaceable natural, cultural and recreational resources. These higher resource values require top levels of protection.
But your dog is the best and the most obedient dog in the world, so it should get a pass, right? Unfortunately, even “good dogs” can cause problems by displacing and harassing wildlife, disturbing sensitive nesting and breeding areas, and spreading diseases.
Many studies also show that dog waste directly and significantly degrades water quality, affecting human health and recreation. Dogs can also intimidate other visitors, some of whom have traveled significant distances to enjoy state park destinations. Additionally, dogs look like a predator to most wild animals. Because of this, even the presence of a dog at a distance, whether on or off a leash, often disturbs wildlife.
If you do visit a state park that allows dogs, remember that dogs must stay on a maximum 6-foot leash at ALL times and must be physically under your control. Also, be sure to clean up after your dog. An alternative option may be to choose a more dog-friendly, local park.
Always keep your dogs on a leash when visiting California’s state parks and make sure to visit the park’s website to see if dogs are allowed and in which areas. Top: Kalea at Empire Mine State Historic Park. Bottom left: Carl and Milo at South Yuba River State Park. Bottom right: Luka on a trail at Auburn State Recreation Area. Photos from Adeline Yee, Brittani Peterson and Jorge Moreno.