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Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Dog & Pet Policy

(719) 378-6300

Pets are permitted in the main national park day use areas and in the national preserve as long as they are kept on a leash less than 6 feet long. They are not permitted in the national park backcountry. Please keep the park clean by cleaning up after your pet.

Unless you are in the moist, cool sand of Medano Creek, plan to hike with your pet in morning or evening in summer months to avoid hot sand.

Click Here for February 2008 change in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve Pet Policy

Click Here for the Pets at Great Sand Dunes flyer with color map of leashed dog areas

Pets at Great Sand Dunes

We want your visit to Great Sand Dunes to be a positive, safe experience for you and your pet. Following these common sense guidelines will protect you, your pet, wildlife, natural resources, and other visitors.

Where are Pets allowed?

Pets are permitted in most commonly used areas of the park and preserve. They must be leashed at all times (except for licensed hunters in season in the national preserve only), and owners must clean up after them.

Pets are not permitted in:

• Dunefield beyond the main day use area

• Designated backpacking sites in the national park

• Most areas of the national park outside the main day use areas and road corridors

Your Pet's Safety

The dunes, grasslands, wetlands, creeks and mountains of the park and preserve have some potential dangers to pets. Be aware of these dangers to protect your pet.

Hot Sand In summer months, sand surface temperatures can quickly get painfully hot from late morning through late afternoon. Plan to hike on the dunes in early morning or evening in summer months. If you must hike the dunes on a mid–day in summer, protect your pet’s feet with socks or pet booties. Watch your pet carefully for signs of heat exhaustion. Their bodies are closer to the hot sand surface than yours is. When Medano Creek is flowing, keep your pet close to the cool, wet sand for relief.

Pets Left in a Vehicle Temperatures in a vehicle on sunny days can quickly soar to dangerous levels, even with the windows cracked.

Cactus Spines The desert grasslands surrounding the dunes contain prickly pear cactus. If you walk your pet in the grasslands, walk slowly and carefully to to avoid injury to your pet from the sharp spines.

Dangers from Wildlife Keeping your pet on a leash less than six feet long is the best protection against negative wildlife encounters. Do not allow your pet to get close to a wild animal, or injury to you or your pet may occur. Deer may kick, mountain lions or bears may attack, badgers may bite, and porcupines may release quills.

On rare occasions, coyotes or other animals may approach your leashed pet. Raise your arms and shout loudly; coyotes will typically run away. Please report any unusual encounters to a park ranger. Never leave pet food out in your picnic site or campsite, as it may attract wild animals.

Protecting the Park and Other Visitors

All visitors come to Great Sand Dunes hoping for a safe, relaxing time surrounded by nature and wildlife. Pets, if not properly restrained and cared for, can ruin other visitors’ experiences by threatening people and pets, scaring away wildlife, leaving pet waste in the creek and hiking areas, and barking in the campground or day use areas.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is one of only a few national parks that permits pets in many areas. Responsible pet ownership in the park and preserve will enable the park to continue to allow you to visit with your pets in the future.

For more information on
dog friendly stops visit our
Journey Guide Map for Dogs

Click Here to see
National Park List

Disclaimer: This information is provided as a courtesy only. The governing agency may have updated policies not reflected by information provided here. We recommend you verify current pet policies with the relevant governing agency prior to your visit. strives to ensure correct information is provided. Please notify us at if you have updated information.

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