Known for its purity and crystal blue water, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the U.S.A. It was formed 7,700 years ago when a volcanic eruption made Mount Mazama collapse to form a caldera.1 Since then, it has become a beloved national park. You can take your dog to the campgrounds and on a few of the trails, paved roads, and picnic areas at Crater Lake, but there are many restricted areas.
It’s not always clear where your dog is welcome at Crater Lake, especially if you’re new to the area. This guide contains everything that you need to know about where your dog is permitted and where they can’t go.
Dog-Friendly Activities at Crater Lake
National parks are always restrictive when it comes to canine visitors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your dog. Although the number of places that dogs aren’t allowed is often more than the places that they can visit, there are still plenty of dog-friendly spots.2
In all these areas, though, your dog needs to be supervised and on a 6-foot leash at all times. You should also pack plenty of water and dog waste bags, no matter where your destination in the park is.
Many of the campgrounds in Crater Lake allow dogs. You can’t leave them unattended, and they must be tethered, leashed, or in a crate, but you’re welcome to camp out with your dog.
There are a few campgrounds where dogs are not permitted, though. Double-check that dogs are allowed at your chosen campsite before you book your stay.
If you’re looking for a place to hike, you’ll be delighted to know there are several dog-friendly hiking trails at Crater Lake. Unfortunately, none of the trails that you can take your dog on offer a view of the lake itself, but they all have plenty of fresh air and natural views.
Except for the Pacific Crest Trail, all the trails in Crater Lake National Park are only accessible for dogs during summer and fall. If there is significant snow on any of the other trails, dogs aren’t permitted.
Paved Roads and Parking Lots
There are several paved roads throughout Crater Lake National Park, and each welcomes dogs both in the car and on foot. Your dog is also allowed anywhere within 50 feet of the roads, parking lots, and picnic areas. Unless the roads are closed due to deep snow, you can keep your dog with you during a scenic drive.
If you’re not the hiking sort but want pictures of the view, take a drive through the park, and remember to make regular stops. You and your dog will be able to stretch your legs and take beautiful pictures at the same time.
Although the dog-friendly hiking trails in the park don’t offer a view of the lake, the paved path near Rim Village Visitor Center does. It’s a ¼ mile hike that’s completely dog-friendly and offers beautiful views of Crater Lake and the surrounding mountain peaks. Your dog isn’t allowed in the visitor center itself, though.
Where Are Dogs Not Allowed at Crater Lake?
As with all national parks, there are far more places at Crater Lake where dogs aren’t allowed than places where they are. This can make visiting with your dog feel limiting, but knowing where your dog can’t go beforehand will allow you to decide whether the park is the right destination for you.
If you’re still not sure where your dog is allowed to accompany you, it’s safer to err on the side of caution. Since there are so many areas in Crater Lake where dogs aren’t allowed, only take your dog to areas that are clearly marked as dog friendly. If an area isn’t listed as a “dog-friendly” area by the national park service, assume that dogs aren’t allowed.
Are Service Dogs Allowed at Crater Lake?
Fully trained service dogs are the only exceptions to the restrictions on dogs at Crater Lake. Since they are “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities,” service dogs are allowed to accompany their handlers throughout Crater Lake National Park. This exception applies to all service dogs, whether they’re guide dogs, psychiatric service dogs, medical alert dogs, or mobility assistance animals.
Keep in mind that the exception for service dogs does not apply to emotional-support animals (ESAs). While service dogs are protected by the ADA, ESAs are not and do not have the same access rights as service animals. They must follow the same guidelines as pets and are only allowed in the designated dog-friendly areas of the park.
Does Crater Lake Lodge Allow Dogs?
You should never leave your dog unattended in the car, even if you only want to quickly explore a part of Crater Lake where your dog isn’t allowed. Finding a place to board your dog while you venture onto the trails is the safest option.
Also, while dogs are allowed at most of the campgrounds—as long as they’re supervised and leashed—they’re not permitted at the Crater Lake Lodge. So, if you’re planning on spending a few days at Crater Lake for vacation, you’ll need to find other accommodations if you’re traveling with your dog. The only exception to this rule is service animals.
Crater Lake also doesn’t have kennels, so if you’re planning on exploring the park without your dog, you’ll need to leave them at home or board them in a kennel in one of the nearby towns.
Why Aren’t Dogs Allowed Everywhere at Crater Lake?
All of the restrictions for dogs in Crater Lake are for safety reasons. National parks like Crater Lake are dedicated to protecting the wildlife and natural environment in the area. Unfortunately, loose dogs pose a risk to the flora and fauna and can also be placed in danger themselves.
The rules have been put into place because of how popular national parks are. Crater Lake sees hundreds of visitors every day, and many people are fearful or wary of pets. Some dogs might also find the unfamiliar scents and the number of strangers unnerving, and they’ll be more likely to misbehave. It’s much safer for everyone at Crater Lake to restrict where dogs can go.
There are several restrictions for canine guests at Crater Lake National Park. They are allowed to accompany you in certain areas, but they are not permitted in most of the park. The buildings, shuttle buses, and many of the trails are off-limits to pets—including emotional-support animals—and are only accessible for service dogs. But there are many dog-friendly trails, campgrounds, and paved roads where you can take your puppy.
- See Also: Are Dogs Allowed on Governors Island?
Featured Image Credit: Lynda McFaul, Shutterstock