If you’re anything like me, you’ve wanted to take your dog with you on some of the most incredible hikes that our National Parks have to offer. You know… to Delicate Arch in Arches, Angels Landing in Zion, or even up to Half Dome in Yosemite. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t take a dog up there, but you get the idea. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed in National Parks in the United States (or should I say not allowed on trails). Have no fear, the Canadian National Parks are here!
Did you know, dogs are allowed everywhere in Canadian National Parks? This includes on hiking trails, in lakes, in campgrounds, everywhere! And this was the sole reason we chose to take a road trip this summer to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. As it turns out, just because you can drive from Utah to Canada, doesn’t actually mean you should. But that is neither here-nor-there.
Bringing Gregor, our 1 year old Springer-Heeler mix into the Park, and across the boarder, was a super simple process. First step, getting him into Canada simply required us to show the boarder agent his vaccination and rabies papers, and that was it. “Enjoy your trip” he exclaimed as we drove off. Second step, getting him into the National Park. As per usual, he was standing on the center consul of the truck when we hit the gate. The park ranger immediately asked if Gregor would like a doggie treat, and then proceed to ask if we had any questions about the park and gave us tips on what to see when. Boom, easy as pie.
Even though he was legally allowed in the country, and the park, we were still concerned with how he would do in the hordes of people at some of the more popular attractions. In reality, we were more concerned how the other people would handle being around dogs. Turns out, it’s was super normal and not a big deal at all. Just like anywhere we’ve taken him, some people want to pet him, others just ignore him, but there was a shocking amount of people that were generally afraid of him in Banff. This was new to both of us. Gregor is a medium sized (45 lbs), cute dog, that shows zero signs of aggression to anyone or anything (most of the time). But there were a few dozen foreign tourists that did not like to be around any dog. We quickly picked up on this and made sure to curb him a little harder when we passed through groups of tourists that were in groups behind their tour guides.
Throughout the trip, we had no issues and zero regrets bringing our dog with us on this trip! He went on big hikes above Lake Louise, paddle board sessions near the Two Jack Lake, hung out as a crag dog when we went rock climbing, and even strutted his stuff around the Main Street in Banff’s downtown. Restaurants around town weren’t too dog friendly, but it’s what we expected in a town that gets snow 9 months out of the year. So not much outdoor seating wasn’t a surprise.
The one thing I would advise against is breaking the dogs-off-leash rule. Even if your dog is super obedient and well trained, this is for their safety. Banff is in bear country. And not just black bears, but big Grizzlies as well. The last thing you’d ever want is to have a bear roll into camp, only for your dog to give chase and end up in a fight with a claw-wielding bear. Everyone we saw abided by this rule, and I think it would out for everyone’s benefit.
So there you have it, if you’re ever thinking about taking your dog up North with you into Canada, go for it! We had a great experience, and I fully believe you will too. Plus, the National Parks in Alberta and British Columbia are truly remarkable. Put any of them on your short-list to visit within the next few years!
My name is Zachary Kenney and I’m an adventure filmmaker & photographer. My passion is to tell stories that will hopefully motivate you to go live a more adventurous life. Whether that is to experience the view from the summit of a mountain, or wandering through a new town on a road trip. Currently based out of Park City, UT.