If you and your pup are headed to Crater Lake National Park, you are in for a treat. We found Crater Lake to be one of the most dog-friendly National Parks. There are several great hikes you can share with your pup and there many beautiful places where you can get out and stretch with your dog. The photo ops with your dog are amazing. As in any National Park, there are also quite a few places where dogs are not allowed. We cover it all in this guide to dog-friendly Crater Lake National Park.
We’ve visited over 40 National Parks so far, and I’d rate Crater Lake as the most dog-friendly park so far. In my opinion, Redwoods and Mammoth Cave come in as a close second. I’ll share why dog-friendly Crater Lake made the top of my list in this article.
Our sweet golden retriever, Charlie, was along for this month-long camping adventure through the California National Parks. Yes, Crater Lake is in Oregon! But we figured we might as well grab the opportunity to visit since we were so close. It’s less than a 5-hour drive from Crater Lake to Redwoods National and State Parks. We spent 3 days and 2 nights exploring and camping in Crater Lake with our dog. Don’t miss our post: 31 Things to Do in Crater Lake to help plan your trip.
How is Crater Lake Dog-Friendly?
Wondering why dog-friendly Crater Lake is at the top of my list? Here are just a couple of things that made this adventure perfect to enjoy with our dog:
- The best views in the whole park, that of Crater Lake itself, are in dog-friendly places. How often have you missed the “money shot” because dogs were not allowed?
- There are short dog and family-friendly hikes that are worth exploring.
- There are a couple of longer hiking areas where you can seriously exercise your dog.
- Dog-friendly Mazama Campground is spacious so your dog doesn’t feel “on alert” all the time.
- Crater Lake is surrounded by a National Forest which opens up a plethora of additional camping and hiking opportunities with your dog.
About Crater Lake National Park
Formed nearly 7,700 years ago, this mesmerizing lake emerged from the violent collapse of Mount Mazama. As the deepest lake in the United States, it’s ringed with cliffs over 2,000 feet high, creating a backdrop that’s almost as dramatic as the lake’s deep blue hue.
Crater Lake National Park is located in Southern Oregon in the Cascade Mountain Range. In 1902 it was the fifth National Park to be established, following closely behind its neighboring Mount Rainier, Sequoia, and Yosemite.
Dog Policies at Crater Lake
At Crater Lake National Park, dogs can enjoy certain areas as long as they remain on a leash no longer than six feet. Here’s a quick overview of pet policies at Crater Lake:
- Parking lots and paved roads throughout the park are accessible for canines. You can walk within 50 feet of paved areas, offering ample space for a stroll or a casual sniff around.
- The Promenade in Rim Village is dog-friendly.
- Likewise, picnic areas also welcome dogs, meaning you can share a meal with your best friend against the backdrop of the park’s natural splendor.
- Hiking with your dog is allowed on designated trails only (see list below). All other trails are off-limits to pets.
- Dogs are welcome in campgrounds.
Special Note: In Crater Lake National Park, you are only allowed one dog per person. If you have multiple dogs, you must have multiple leash-holding adults. While this rule makes sense to ensure you have good control of your dog in an unusual situation, it isn’t one I’ve seen specifically listed for a National Park previously.
Service Animals in the Park
Crater Lake National Park allows these essential companions to accompany their handlers throughout the park. Anywhere a human is allowed, your service dog is welcome. It’s reassuring to know that individuals who depend on their service animals can benefit from the full Crater Lake experience.
Planning Your Crater Lake Dog-Friendly Itinerary
A road trip with your dog takes a bit of planning and we are here to help! Here are some of the top places to take your dog during your visit to Crater Lake National Park.
You Must Wander Rim Village with Your Dog
If you don’t go anywhere else, Crater Lake’s Rim Village is the place to walk your dog. Dogs are welcome on the paved path, which is a lot of space. From the promenade, you get up-close views of the lake. Yes, the kind of photos that end up on your Christmas Card.
We also enjoyed a ranger talk on the patio of Crater Lake Lodge with Charlie. While dogs can’t go inside, you can get beverages and snacks on the patio from the bar just inside.
In addition to the show-stopping view of the lake, it was fun to walk around the historic buildings in Rim Village. You’ll usually find park rangers available outside the Rim Village Visitor Center to share park information. There’s nothing like a loveable dog to get the rangers to start talking to you!
And, of course, we ended the day sitting on the patio of the gift shop enjoying an ice cream.
Dog-Friendly Hikes in Crater Lake National Park
Ready for a walk in the park with your pup? We have a detailed guide for hiking with puppies if this is your dog’s first National Park adventure. Dogs are allowed on these five designated trails in the park. Other than the PCT, the trails are all on the southern tip of the park. I’ve included a map to help you easily locate them.
#1. Lady of the Woods Trail
This is an easy 0.7-mile loop around the Park Ranger Station. Grab one of the self-guided tour books at the trailhead to learn more about the park’s history and architecture. The hike is lightly forested and a great respite for you and your dog if the day gets hot. In winter, dogs are welcome as long as there isn’t significant snow.
Don’t forget to watch for the sculpture of a woman that is carved into a boulder. If you take the loop counter-clockwise, it’s not far down the trail. Note, that there are a few stairs and elevation changes that keep this from being an accessible trail.
#2. Godfrey Glen Trail
We walked the 1.1-mile Godfrey Glen loop with our dog, Charlie. This hike is worth taking to see the magnificent old-growth forest. Part of the trail follows the edge of a deep canyon where we found a spot where pinnacles were visible.
This is a very well-maintained and easy trail with a fairly smooth surface. We were surprised to only encounter a couple of other hikers on such a nice trail. If your dog is on overload from all the people at the rim, this is a nice quiet place for him.
#3. Annie Spur Trail
The Annie Spur Trail is the perfect hike if you are staying in Mazama Village campground and want a long hike to let your dog work off some energy. This trail is the connecting trail from the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) to Mazama Village. While the intent is to make it easy for through hikers to access the amenities of the village campground and store, it is also a great hike for dogs.
Getting to the trailhead is a little hard to figure out from the park maps. However, it is really easy to find from the campground. Walk out the campground main entrance, pass the store, and make a right on Munson Valley Road. That’s the road just outside the Village entrance. From there it’s a short walk to the Annie Spur Trailhead (on the left).
Annie Spur is only ½ mile hike. However, if you are looking for a long hike with your dog, you can hop on to the dog-friendly Pacific Crest Trail and walk as long as you want. The trail here goes through an open forest of lodgepole pine and hemlock.
The spur and nearby portion of the PCT are moderately difficult so you and your pup will get a real workout.
#4 Grayback Road
Grayback Road was once part of the original road around Crater Lake. When Rim Road was opened, this road was retired from vehicle use and dedicated to hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Best of all your dog is welcome to join you on this incredibly scenic road.
The 10-mile round trip (in and out) Grayback Drive goes from Vidae Falls to the Lost Creek Campground (currently closed). We found a nice picnic area with bathrooms, near Vidae Falls, where you can park for your hike.
The gravel road makes this a comfortable trail. However, this is a mildly strenuous hike because it has an elevation change of 1,000 feet. Be cautious when walking with your dog, watching for bicycles and horses. Because this is the only mountain bike trail in the park, the riders often fly.
#5 Hiking with Your Dog on the Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail, famously known as the PCT, is a legendary pathway that stretches 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada. It’s renowned among avid hikers and nature lovers who want to immerse themselves in the epic landscapes of the West Coast. In Crater Lake National Park you can explore a portion of this trail with your loyal companion by your side.
This iconic trail weaves through the park for 33 miles, offering a taste of its grand journey. Dogs are allowed on all of the official PCT. There is a side trail for hikers to walk along the rim of the lake which does not allow pets.
The only place for you and your dog to access the PCT within the park is via the Annie Spur Trail from the Mazama Campground. Otherwise, you need to trailhead outside the park. To the South, the nearest trailhead is in Fish Lake off Highway 140, and then 75 miles to the North at Highway 138 Cascade Crest.
The key to a successful hike with your dog on the PCT through Crater Lake National Park is preparation. Keeping your dog on a leash is not just park policy—it helps protect your pet and the park’s delicate ecosystem. Water is a must – there aren’t many sources along the way, so pack enough for you and your pet. Remember, this is nature’s realm, rugged and wild.
More Great Stops to Share with Your Dog in Crater Lake
Crater Lake is not just about trails. There are dozens of other beautiful dog-friendly spots in Crater Lake National Park.
Enjoy the scenic drive along the East Rim Drive, where you can pull over at various overlooks. Your dog may join you on a paved promenade to get those unforgettable views of the deepest lake in the United States. Dogs are welcome within 50 feet of paved roads so relish those spots where you can share the magnificent view.
For a leisurely day, explore one of the 9 picnic areas where you can spread out a blanket and share a snack with your canine companion. Don’t forget to keep fresh water and a bowl handy for your dog to drink from. We found picnic areas to be beautiful and well-kept. Even better they were a little bit away from the chaos of the crowds which provided a much-needed stimuli break for our dog.
Camping with Your Canine at Mazama Campground
Dogs are welcome at the campground at Mazama Village. You can walk your dog anywhere in the campground, which with 7 large loops there is plenty of space to exercise.
If your pup is new to camping, check out our Guide for Taking Your Dog Camping for the First Time
During our 2 nights of camping here with our puppy, we observed dogs in 3 of the nearby campsites. If your dog struggles with sharing space with other dogs you might find the number of dogs in the campground challenging. However, the campsites are spacious which gives you plenty of room to spread out.
The only downside of Mazama Campground was the ground is primarily crushed lava rock. I don’t know why I was surprised, we were after all camping on an old volcano. But it caused Charlie a couple of problems. First, she was filthy from laying in much pumice dust. And second, there was little grass or weeds in the campground. Being a midwestern girl she was very confused about where to do her business.
Note, that the cabins in Mazama Village do not allow dogs. Nor can you bring dogs into the general store.
Where You Can’t Take Your Dog in Crater Lake
It’s crucial to know that pets are not allowed everywhere.
- Public buildings, such as Visitor Centers, Crater Lake Lodge, and gift shops, are out of bounds for our furry friends.
- Hiking trails (except those listed above) and wilderness areas have a no-pets policy. This measure protects the park’s delicate ecosystems and local wildlife.
- Crater Lake Lodge and Mazama Village Cabins also do not allow pets.
- Dogs are not allowed in or near the lake, especially don’t take your pet down Cleetwood Cove Trail.
- Shuttle buses and boat tours of the lake are also not dog-friendly.
Remember that while campgrounds and picnic areas are pet-friendly, any areas away from designated parking lots and campgrounds are pet-free zones.
Service dogs, however, are an exception to these rules. With their rigorous training and essential roles, they can accompany their owners to more locations within the park.
Exploring Nearby National Forests with Your Dog
Near Crater Lake, the wilderness beckons us with even more dog-friendly trails, nestled in the neighboring national forests. Here, you’ll find trails that are just as inviting for your furry companion as they are for you.
Crater Lake NP is surrounded by 3 National Forests: Rogue River, Winema, and Umpqua. Almost all of the National Forest land is open for leashed dogs to hike and camp with you. Only a handful of hiking trails, ski trails, and waterways are restricted.
Popular National Forest trails near the park for hiking with your dog include: Upper Rogue River, Muir Creek, and Union Creek. And you’ll find quite a few dog-friendly Forest Service Campgrounds nearby.
Staying in Nearby Dog-Friendly Communities
The nearest town of any size to Crater Lake National Park is Klamath Falls. Here you’ll find a wide variety of hotels and rentals that will welcome your dog. And when I searched Rover, my favorite dog sitter app, I found several dog caregivers that would be perfect if you wanted to day trip to Crater Lake without your pup.
Take a look at Union Creek Resort, just minutes outside of the park. Their cabins and campgrounds are dog-friendly. Although we didn’t spend the night there, we explored the grounds a bit after stopping at their restaurant, Beckies, for breakfast. It’s a cool place with an interesting history.
Preparing for Your Visit
Pack the Essentials: Prepare for a day out with your furry companion by packing:
- Enough food and water for both of you.
- Remember to carry a collapsible bowl for your dog’s hydration and feeding ease.
- Don’t overlook waste bags to clean up after them and adhere to the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles.
- Tuck an extra leash and collar in your car, just in case one breaks. Most parks require a leash no longer than six feet.
Health and Safety Precautions: Update your dog’s vaccinations before heading out, and bring their medical records along. I keep a copy on my phone. Keep a basic pet first aid kit in your car, including bandages, antiseptic wipes, and tweezers for possible tick removal.
Testing Recall: Even on a leash, it’s a good decision to reinforce your dog’s recall command, in case of an unpredictable situation where you may need to quickly get their attention or call them back to you.
Plan Your Route: Double-check the dog-friendly trails before you arrive. I included a map above that we found very helpful on our Crater Lake dog-friendly trip.
Emergency Contacts: Familiarize yourself with the contact information for the nearest animal hospital and park rangers. In case of an emergency, you’ll be grateful to have these numbers easily accessible.
Stay on Designated Trails: Preserve the park’s ecosystem and prevent your dog from disturbing wildlife by sticking to official pathways.
Consider Other Visitors: Not everyone is comfortable around dogs. Be courteous and maintain a safe distance when passing others.
Parting Paws: Reflecting on Your Dog’s Adventure
Crater Lake National Park stands out as a uniquely dog-friendly National Park, welcoming your furry friends to marvel at its natural splendor alongside you. Here, leashed dogs can join you on paved paths, in designated picnic areas, and around the stunning Rim Village. Most national parks severely limit the areas where pets can roam. While Crater Lake may not be perfect, it offers a wider variety of places to share with your dog than most.
By using this guide, you’ll be able to plan an amazing trip to dog-friendly Crater Lake for you and your dog.