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Big Dogs love riding the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad
Dog Friendly Fun
In Yosemite & Madera County
Blog Dog Friendly Fun in Yosemite & Madera County
Alex Silgalis | 01/18/2021Hiking, Museums, History & Culture, Nature, Pet Friendly, Train Riding, Waterfalls, Wineries & Agri-Tourism, Winery/Brewery/Wine Bars |   

Madera County is often nicknamed the “heart of California” due to its central location within the state and the amount of fun activities that you can get to, like Yosemite National Park. National parks do allow dogs but with some key restrictions. There are a lot of places around Yosemite that are not just dog accepting, but truly friendly. So instead of leaving your four-legged family member at home, here’s a few pet friendly ideas in and around Yosemite.

Get the scoop on the rules for pets within the park boundaries

If you do want to head inside the park with your furry friend, you can do the following within park regulations:

  • Take in the sights of developed areas
  • Go for a nature walk with your pal on a leash on any of the paved roads, sidewalks, and bicycle paths (except when the signage says otherwise)
  • Stay at a campground except any of the in-group campsites and walk-in ones (e.g. Camp 4)

Let’s be honest... pups LOVE going for a ride. Even if they can’t go beyond most of the developed areas, they’ll still have a blast. They can still enjoy a number of spots like Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Sentinel Bridge and even Tenaya Lake in the High Sierra. In Wawona, you can stretch your legs with Fido on Wawona Meadow Loop trail.  This easy 3.5 mile loop is the only un-improved trail within the park where you can do that.  When and if you do want to head off into the wilderness for a day or two, Yosemite Hospitality normally operates a dog kennel in Yosemite Valley (it was closed in 2020) from approximately late May through early September.

If you do want to get off the beaten path with your four-legged family member, here’s a host of other options outside of the park that are a bit more open to pets.

Tunnel View is a prefect place to show your dog the awesome sights of Yosemite

Tunnel View is a great place to show you canine companion on of the best views of Yosemite! Photo by Breeze Turner.

Enjoy Sequoias With Your Pooch

Photo by: Local Freshies While the legendary Mariposa Grove is beautiful, but as noted above, Fido won't be able to explore it with you.  But - there is another option just outside of the park's boundaries within the Sierra National Forest that you AND your dog (on a leash) can enjoy. It's Nelder Grove. Home to over 100 mature giant Sequoias and away from the hustle & bustle of Yosemite, you’ll pretty much have the place to yourself.

Learn more about the Nelder Grove

Learn more about the Lewis Creek Trail

If you’re looking to take in a waterfall but away from the crowds, consider heading to the Lewis Creek National Recreation Trail. Home to not one but TWO of the hidden gems to see in or near Yosemite. Featuring Corlieu and Red Rock Falls, you’ll be able to enjoy the tranquil beauty of the region AND see the sights and sounds of water WITH your pooch. At only a four-mile round-trip and with the main trailhead only roughly 7 miles outside of nearby Oakhurst's downtown, you can easily combine it with other adventures as well during the day.

You can explore the Lewis Creek Recreational Trail with your dogs

You can explore the beauty of Lewis Creek WITH your dog!  Photo by Breeze Turner

Sip On Some Vino While Your Furry Friend Scarfs Down A Treat

For those pet lovers that also enjoy a nice glass of wine, look no further than Yosemite Wine Tails. A socially conscious wine bar, it's dog friendly too. Explore one-of-a-kind California branded wines and beers that aren't found in your local grocery store while your canine buddy enjoys specialty dog treats such as cookies, cupcakes and a recirculating water fountain. Talk about a great way to spend an afternoon together.

Learn more about the Yosemite Wine Tails

All Aboard… Including Canines

Does your dog love going for rides? Why not kick things up a notch and take them to the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad? On the one-hour ride, you’ll travel along the historic right-of-way of the Madera Sugar Pine Railroad, where lumberjacks felled the timber and a flume carried it down through the rugged Sierra Nevada foothills to the town of Madera over 40 miles away. And the best part? It’s FREE for canines.

Learn more about the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Big Dogs love riding the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad

Big dogs love riding the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad!

Leap Into History At The Coarsegold Historical Society & Museum

Sometimes you need to step back, WAY back to the 1800’s and catch a glimpse of how life was like back then. Just below the town of Coarsegold is the Historical Society and Museum. Featuring a unique collection of artifacts dating back to the mid 19th century as well as an original historical adobe freight waystation. The 110+ year old building is a “packed adobe” made from mud and rock. While it's being restored, the progress can be seen by visitors. Pets are welcome to accompany their owners on the grounds, in the picnic area, and adjacent meadow.

Learn more about the museum

These are just a few of the adventures you can have with your pup in Visit Yosemite | Madera County. The opportunities for fun with your best bud are endless. So, the next time you’re thinking of an adventure with your furry friend, come visit us. For more about places to stay & play that are dog friendly, check out the pet friendly lodging & attractions page.


Like what you see? Save any of these pins (or possibly all of them) to your travel planning board(s) to give you an easy way to find your way back here!  Also check out our other blog posts as well as itineraries for more ideas and pins!

Alex Silgalis

Alex founded® in 2014 to be the #1 website providing the “local scoop” on where to eat, drink & play in mountain towns throughout North America. When he’s not writing and executing marketing strategies for small businesses & agencies, he’s in search of the deepest snow in the winter and tackiest dirt in the summer.

Our annual Visit Yosemite | Madera County Visitors Guide can answer all your questions about visiting California's Gateway to Yosemite. From the park itself to the museums, wineries, art galleries and more throughout Madera County, our guide can help you plan the perfect vacation. Please note that we mail to the USA only, but anyone can download the guide.
Visit Yosemite - Madera County
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(559) 683-4636
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