Pet Friendly Activities & Hotels Near Yellowstone National Park


Top 10 Dog Friendly Activities Near Yellowstone National Park

Discover our Top 10 dog friendly hikes and activities near Yellowstone National Park and best pet friendly Yellowstone hotels.

When you bring Fido along with you on vacation, you know you need to find the best pet friendly hotels in or near Yellowstone. But what you might not count on is needing to find hikes, activities and things to do that are just as friendly to man’s best friend.

Problem is, Yellowstone itself isn’t super welcoming to your pets. In fact, Yellowstone pet regulations require you to keep dogs or even cats on the road and hard leashed. 

Your dog won’t even be allowed on park trails! If not for these rules, your pet may disappear into the Yellowstone wilderness or cause problems with wildlife.

Even so, if you want an adventurous vacation for your pup and yourself, don’t count out the first National Park. The fringe communities that skirt Yellowstone tend to be dog-friendly with plenty of National Forest trails that will get your dog’s tail wagging.

Read on to discover the top 10 dog friendly hikes near Yellowstone, organized by entrance. They’re all within striking distance of the park. And between you and me, it’s going to feel like you never left anyway. 

You don’t have to “paws” your vacation for your dog, so let’s discover the best dog-friendly hikes near Yellowstone together.

1. Watch Old Faithful erupt with your dog

Starting location: Old Faithful

Distance round-trip: A short walk from whatever parking spot you snag

Difficulty: Easy

Leash: Required

We know we said “near Yellowstone,” but you can still bring your dog to the park’s premier attraction, as long with you’re OK with a little bit of quarantining.

While you won’t be able to walk the boardwalks around the Old Faithful Geyser Basin, you will be able to gaze out on the basin from a designated dog area about 200 feet from the star of the show: Old Faithful. 

And since the geyser can send plumes of water as much as 184 feet in the air, you’ll still get the full experience without being elbow to elbow with other ogling visitors. 

2. Take the pup to Pine Creek Falls — or Pine Creek Lake if you’re feeling adventurous (North Entrance)

Starting location: Pine Creek Campground

Distance round-trip: 2 miles or 9.2 miles to the lake

Difficulty: Easy/Strenuous

Leash: Leash recommended

Want a rewarding quick hike outside Yellowstone’s North Entrance? Try Pine Creek Falls in the aptly named Paradise Valley. The valley is a known fisherman’s haven, but you’ll find plenty to do with your dog if you’d rather not deal with wet dog smell. 

The hike to PIne Creek Falls begins as a gradual rise through a beautiful wooded canyon until you connect onto a steeper feeder canyon where Pine Creek Falls tumbles down. 

Pine Creek Falls sits on private property, so we do recommend a leash to help keep this hike open.

Reaching Pine Creek Falls could be a quick day-trip, or you can get adventurous and seek out a real backcountry experience at Pine Creek Lake. 

The route to this lake takes you up almost to treeline past a pair of smaller ponds and a major cascade to find a cliff-ringed lake popular with locals for the fishing. Maybe you should break out that wet dog smell after all.

3. Hike to Passage Creek Falls (North Entrance)

Starting location: Passage Creek Falls Trailhead

Distance round-trip: 5.1 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Leash: Leash Required

Also a popular cross-country skiing destination in winter, Passage Creek Falls is an impressive waterfall whose trailhead can be found at the end of a long dirt road near Chico Hot Springs.

Be careful of forking trails, the signage on this trail could use work. After crossing the third bridge on the trail, stay right to continue toward the falls. And getting down to the falls requires traversing some somewhat sketchy switchbacks, so keep Fido firmly in control here. 

But the payoff is well worthwhile.  

4. Hike Suce Creek (North Entrance)

Starting location: Suce Creek Trailhead

Distance round-trip: 5-6 mile loop trail

Difficulty: Strenuous (1,000 feet of elevation gain)

Leash: Voice control OK

If you want to hike to big views of the Absarokas and Paradise Valley, this may be the place for you. 

Your dog will appreciate consistent access to water, and you’ll appreciate the wildflowers if you hit it in the right season. 

5. Buffalo Bill Dam (East Entrance)

Starting location: Buffalo Bill Dam

Distance one-way: Most parking spots sit a little over 1,000 feet from dam

Difficulty: Easy

Leash: Leash required

Not much more than a mind-boggling leg stretch, the Buffalo Bill Dam is a great quick stop to walk the dog and see some incredible sights.

This 325-foot concrete arch dam was the highest dam in the world when completed in 1910. And if you venture along the shores of the pretty reservoir to peer into the canyon, you’ll see why. 

Beneath you, the canyon drops away to a ribbon of green-gray water churning with whitewater. Catch it with the spillway open and you’ll also see a powerful waterfall gushing directly out of the cliff face. 

If you’re not done yet, you can also find a two-mile river walk your dog is sure to love.

Note: Dogs not allowed in actual visitor center, but sometimes a bowl of water is provided outside. 

Pet-Friendly Restaurant Note: The historic Irma Hotel built by showman Buffalo Bill himself is a dog-friendly restaurant, along with other pet-friendly Cody hotels and restaurants in the charming Western town of Cody.

6. Pahaska Sunlight Trail/Grinnell Trail (East Entrance)

Starting location: Pahaska Trailhead

Distance one-way: You name it

Difficulty: Easy to strenuous

Leash: Leash required

The Pahaska Trailhead is a popular access point for deep wilderness just outside of Yellowstone. 

In short, there are a lot of options to pursue here. Both the Pahaska Trail and the Grinnell Trail take off from the trailhead, allowing you to flow and meander into two separate picturesque valleys with water running through them. 

Or you can hook up onto the hillside for quick elevation gains on Crow Peak. 

Wherever you go, you can expect wildflowers, flowing water and big canyon views synonymous with Yellowstone. 

7. Hike to a 1930s era fire tower with Yellowstone and Teton views at Huckleberry Lookout (South Entrance)

Starting location: Sheffield Creek Trailhead

Distance round-trip: 10 miles

Difficulty: Strenuous (2,200 feet of elevation gain)

Leash: Voice control OK

Just south of Yellowstone and north of Grand Teton National Park, you’ll find a practically unknown trailhead where dogs are welcome and the vistas are vast. The Sheffield Creek trailhead is on forestland at the base of Huckleberry Mountain, elevation 9,600 feet.

If you make the effort to walk your dog to the summit, you’ll catch glimpses of massive views of both National Parks occasionally.

And at the top, the world opens up at a 1930s log lookout tower that was in use until 1957 before being added to the National Register of Historic Places.

This trail offers one part history and two parts nature, so enjoy this rare doggie treat.

8. Find Lake of the Woods with your dog (South Entrance)

Starting location: Cascade Creek Trailhead

Distance round-trip: About 3 miles

Difficulty: Easy 

Leash: Voice control OK

Note: This trail is on a long, notoriously bumpy dirt road 4x4 (and patience) recommended

Get far off the beaten path.

Sandwiched between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park is a meager strip of secluded forestland home to various lakes and reservoirs. From Flagg Ranch just south of Yellowstone, you’ll head about 13 miles west past Grassy Lake Reservoir. 

The Cascade Creek trailhead sits just after a bridge about a mile beyond the reservoir. To the north, you can take your dog tantalizingly close to some beautiful Yellowstone waterfalls, but you have to cross into the park soon after starting your hike to get there.

But on the south side of the road, a disused double track heads into the woods past wandering creek meadows toward the dog-friendly Tillery Lake and Lake of the Woods. The latter is tied to a Boy Scout camp, but taking your dog in from this old road you’re not likely to see many campers.

9. Coffin Lakes Trail (West Entrance)

Starting location: Watkins Creek Trailhead

Distance round-trip: 11.3 miles

Difficulty: Moderate/strenuous

Leash: Leash recommended

Just northwest of Yellowstone’s West Entrance, you’ll find Hebgen Lake. It’s a fun place for your dog to play and swim, and it offers several dog-friendly trails around its shores. 

Coffin Lakes trail is one of the more intense trails in the area, but it comes with a big payoff. The lake’s trout fishing is good, wildflowers blanket the area in June, and you’ll feel like you’re deep in the backcountry at a beautiful lake.

10. Earthquake Lake / Refuge Point Loop (West Entrance)

Starting location: Pullout between Hebgen and Earthquake lakes

Distance round-trip: 2.3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Leash: Voice control OK

Get a little history in during a nice dog walk through the meadows between Hebgen Lake and Earthquake Lake. The latter lake was named for a 1959 earthquake that built up the Madison River into a lake, (much like Slide Lake out the South Entrance) and left a ghost village for you to discover.

The cool history coupled with an easy walk and some nice lake and Madison Range views should make this a great leg stretcher, if nothing else. And there are plenty more trails in the area if you’re itching for more.

Trail description

A vacation fit for man’s best friend

Yellowstone may not be super per-friendly, but no matter which entrance you use to access the park, you should find plenty of reasons to get out and about with your canine. 

Unleash your Yellowstone National Park Vacation — and that best friend of yours. 

Now hit the trail, or find pet-friendly lodging near Yellowstone through the links below.

- Jackson Hole pet-friendly accommodations

- Cody pet-friendly hotels

- West Yellowstone pet-friendly lodging

- Bozeman, Montana pet-friendly hotels