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Are Dogs Allowed in Glacier National Park? 2024 Update & Tips

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Glacier National Park in Montana

One of the prettiest places to visit in Montana is Glacier National Park. Located in the Rocky Mountains, it’s a 1,583 square-mile area dedicated to preserving the local wildlife. It’s filled with hundreds of miles of hiking trails and lakes. Unfortunately for your adventure-loving dog, though, pets are not permitted on the backcountry trails, buildings, or lakes in the park.

Many of the animals living in the park can be frightened or endangered by the presence of your dog, and they might also pose a threat to you and your canine. The places where dogs are allowed in Glacier National Park are limited, and we explore them in this article.

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Why Aren’t Dogs Allowed in Glacier National Park?

National parks are protected by the government to preserve the environment. While they’re frequently visited by tourists for recreation or the exploration of historical landmarks, most national parks are intended to preserve wildlife. Many are not pet friendly because of the potential danger posed to the wildlife in the areas.

Glacier National Park is home to bears, wolves, and cougars, as well as many other animals. Pets can carry parasites or illnesses that can infect the wildlife in the park, or they can pick up infections themselves. There are also many wild animals—like moose—that dislike dogs. They can endanger you and your dog if they cross your path during a walk.

While it’s disappointing when you can’t take your dog everywhere you want to, the reason that national parks are off-limits is to ensure the safety of you, your dog, and the local wildlife.1

In Glacier National Park, dogs are not permitted in any of the following areas:
  • Backcountry trails
  • Buildings
  • Most lake shores
  • On roads closed to vehicle traffic

The 4 Places You Can Take Your Dog in Glacier National Park

Greater Swiss Mountain Dog
Image Credit: thebeebesknees, Pixabay

Your dog might not be allowed in many places in Glacier National Park, but they’re not banned everywhere. There are several areas where your dog is allowed, provided that you follow a few important rules.

In all these areas, you need to respect the other park guests by keeping your dog under control at all times, cleaning up after them, and ensuring that they’re on a 6-foot leash.

1. Boats

Throughout the park, there are plenty of lakes where motorboats are permitted. Your dog can’t swim or wander around on the shores, but they are allowed on your boat with you while you explore the water. Make sure that they have a life vest and that you stay in the areas where boats are allowed.

2. Campsites

Taking your dog camping can be great fun, and fortunately, the campsites in Glacier National Park are dog friendly. There are the usual rules to follow, such as keeping them leashed and not leaving them tied up and unattended. You also need to clean up after your dog and yourself when you leave, so your fellow park guests can experience a clean campsite too.

3. Going-to-the-Sun Road

Long-hared Dachshund and white dog socializing in park
Image Credit: Blulz60, Shutterstock

There are two roads to drive along in Glacier Valley Park, and the most popular is known as Going-to-the-Sun Road. It offers beautiful views over the mountains in the park and plenty of perfect spots for pictures. Your dog might not appreciate the view quite as much as you will, but it’s one of the few places in the park where they’re allowed.

It’s a long drive, though, and you should take frequent stops, not only to take pictures but also to give your dog a chance to stretch their legs. Make sure they’re on a leash, within 100 feet of the road, or in the picnic areas at all times.

Dogs aren’t allowed on either of the roads when they’re closed to vehicles. In these cases, they’re considered to be backcountry trails, and dogs are not permitted.

4. McDonald Creek Bike Path

In most of Glacier National Park, dogs are not allowed on any of the trails or backcountry roads. McDonald Creek Bike Path between Apgar and West Glacier is the exception but only when it’s clear of snow. You might run into wildlife on the trail, so take precautions, especially if you encounter an animal with a dislike for dogs.

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Are There Dog-Friendly Hotels or Kennels Near Glacier National Park?

dog hotel and daycare
Image Credit: www.1000southclark.com

Don’t be tempted to leave your dog in the car while you explore Glacier National Park. On summer days, the temperature can be well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Your car will get too warm for your dog and can pose a serious, potentially fatal risk. It only takes a few minutes for your car to get overbearingly hot, even if you leave the window cracked open.

It’s much safer to find a kennel or hotel where you can board your dog for a day or two during your trip, and there are a few near the park. They’ll be much safer and far healthier there than they would be trapped in your too-hot car.

Dogs are also allowed in the campsites provided that they’re on a leash, so they can join you on your weekend camping trip even though you can’t take them on the trails.

Are Service Dogs Allowed in Glacier National Park?

Most dogs are not allowed in Glacier National Park, but service animals are the exceptions. As working dogs that provide an important service to their handlers, service dogs are not pets. They are trained to keep their handler safe and give them independence. In many cases, separating the two can be life threatening for the handler. Due to this and their protection by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), service dogs are allowed everywhere in the park.

Unfortunately, emotional-support animals (ESA) and therapy animals aren’t considered to be service dogs. They aren’t trained to provide a specific task to help their handler manage their disability. The comfort that they offer their handler is crucial, but they don’t grant the same level of independence that a service dog offers their handler.

Since ESAs are not protected by the ADA, they are treated the same as pets and aren’t allowed in most of Glacier National Park. They’re only allowed in the campgrounds, along the bike trail, and on the scenic driving routes.

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Final Thoughts

Like many national parks, Glacier National Park in Montana has a no-pet policy throughout most of the area. Besides service dogs that are allowed to accompany their handlers, dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails or lake shores. This is due to safety reasons regarding the preservation of natural wildlife and the environment.

You can, however, take your dog into the campgrounds, along the main roads, and walk them along the bike trail. Keep your dog under control, on a 6-foot leash, and pick up after them at all times to ensure that your visit is fun and safe.

Featured Image Credit: Dan Breckwoldt, Shutterstock

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