Taste Of The Tetons Part II -> 5 Dog-Friendly Outings
Pets are prohibited in the backcountry and on park trails…
Pets are prohibited from public buildings and swimming beaches….
Pets are prohibited from riding in boats on park waters….
This is just a partial list of the things you cannot do with your doggie within the limits of Grand Teton National Park, and it’s pretty typical of just about every National Park (bar a select few) in the entire USA. Basically you can walk your dog in the parking lot or on driveable roads, but nowhere else. For those who are pooch-crazy (like us), it’s a total bummer since it means we can’t do what we enjoy most (hiking) with those we love the most (Polly).
It’s the reason we typically avoid National Parks in our RV travels. Since we rarely hike without doggie, and we don’t like to leave her more than 4 hours at a time there’s just not much attraction in being in a place where all you can do is gawk at it from the outside. Well, except when you’re in the Tetons of course and gawking is exactly what you came to do.
Plus there’s an extra trick…
We discovered a special doggie loophole a mere 3 months into our RV travels in 2010, and that secret is National Forest. Most National Parks are surrounded by abundant (huge, enormous) slices of National Forest and the rules there are entirely different. They’re dog-friendly everywhere including all trails, and some even allow “voice control” (no leash requirement). That’s typically where we find our doggie salvation, and in the Teton area we did the same. In addition we discovered a few extra “hidden gems” in and around town.
So, here’s our top 5 places to find doggie love in the Tetons:
1/ Gros Ventre Wilderness
In the area East of Teton NP lies a 285,505 acre swath of land managed by the Forest Service called Gros Ventre (= Large Stomach in French, likely named by the same guys who saw Big Breasts in the mountains). It is a huge, rolling hills area of utter doggie happiness offering miles of outdoor enjoyment and hiking trails.
Take Gros Ventre road ~10 miles north of Jackson from Hwy 89 and continue on as far as you like. You’ll pass the Slide Geological Area (a big slide caused by the Teton Fault), Slide Lake (doggie swimming!) and enter a huge area of interconnected, multi-use trails. Plus the views of the Tetons as you drive back is pretty awesome. Finish off your morning hike with a coffee or sandwich at the teeny dog-friendly coffee shop in Kelly. It’s not exactly gourmet, but it’s one of the best places to get a full view of the Tetons and relax with doggie on the lawn or outdoor seating.
Link to Gros Ventre Info -> Click HERE
2/ Jackson, WY
Dog friendly in Jackson?? Those who’ve been here know it can be a hassle to find anywhere paw friendly in town. Most of the city parks prohibit them, the Saturday farmers market (which is excellent) prohibits them and the local Snake River Brewing, which has a perfect dog-tempting outdoor patio prohibits them too (waaaahhhhhhh!!). I think I called around ~25 other restaurants with patios that all said the same thing. No dogs, even outside. What is it with this town? But I managed to find two key exceptions.
- Snow King Mountain Hike – This short, steep hike right behind Jackson is dog-friendly and provides excellent views to boot. Just be prepared to go steep (~1,500 vertical feet in 1.8 miles)
- MacPhail’s Burgers – This little nondescript joint on the edge of town may be the nicest family-run burger place we’ve ever been too. Super friendly, two local Snake River brews on tap and a lovely pooch-friendly outdoor seating area. The burgers are not cheap, but they are excellent and can easily be shared. Plus, local beer!
P.S. Although Snake River Brewing does not allow dogs I do recommend a separate trip without the paws to check them out. The brews are excellent and the pizza’s are very tasty (gluten-free available). Paul and I particularly enjoyed their Pakos IPA and Zonker Stout. Plus how can you resist a brewery whose motto is “put our river through your liver”?
3/ Teton Village, WY
Whereas Jackson is not really much of a town for doggies, Teton Village (sometimes called “Jackson Hole”) just ~20 mins NW is a pooch wonderland. Here dogs are welcomed with open paws, encouraged to hike the abundant trails on the mountain, to join their owners in a game of disc golf (one of the coolest courses I’ve seen on our travels), to go into shops, or just to hang in one of the many outdoor seating areas around town. In the few places that prohibit them, there’s dog-friendly “barking” (= parking) spots and water bowls. We saw happy dogs everywhere we went, spent several hours hiking the mountain in doggie bliss and hung out afterwards for a bite in the main square.
The only bummer in Teton Village? You can’t take doggie on the Gondola so if you want to hike the coveted “Top of the World Hike” plan on a serious ~14-mike round trip from the bottom up.
Info on Teton Village Hiking -> Click HERE.
4/ Curtis Canyon
Just east of Jackon you can grab the road that heads around the back of the Elk Refuge (Elk Refuge Road) towards Curtis Canyon. On this drive you’ll pass the historic Miller Ranch (= not paw-friendly), and then enter the vast National Forest area just beyond it (= 100% paw-friendly!). The road here can be very rutted, but just up the mountain you’ll get great views of the Tetons and lots of paw-friendly trails. Many dog-owners hike the 6-mike round trip to Goodwin Lake, but we just wandered around the top of the mountain enjoying the butterflies and the views. Be on the lookout for wildlife on this trip. We saw both Pronghorns and Bighorn Sheep on the drive back along the refuge.
5/ Teton National Park
What?? I thought you just told me doggies can’t go anywhere here?? True I did, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring them along for the drive. Doggie can accompany you on the big loop drive, and can admire the views from the frequent turn-outs along the way. You just can’t hike the trails or go into the water. We brought doggie with us to Snake River Overlook, Oxbow Bend and around the entire Teton loop. Plus we were able to find drive-able dirt roads (according to the rules, if cars can go there doggies can too) near Gros Ventre Campground where we could hike with doggie for miles. Just don’t bring doggie if you’re planning to do a photo shoot at Schawbacher Landing. The best pics are from the trail where doggie can’t go.
That wraps up our Taste of the Tetons. Overall this area may be one of the best surprising experiences we’ve had in our 5 years of travel. We extended our stay twice simply because we couldn’t bear to leave, and if we had the choice we’d be spending the next 3 weeks right here. The vibe is right, the town is friendly and the views…well, they’re just mind-blowing. Plus there are a surprising number of things you can do with doggie despite the restrictive rules of the NP.
Will we be back? You bet your paws we will!!
Post-Post Note/ Be BEAR AWARE. This is grizzly county and when out hiking with doggie, keep him/her close and always bring bear spray (and keep it in a place that’s easily accessible). If your dog is the type that strays or doesn’t have a solid stop & come back command, keep them on a leash.
- Exploring The Tetons w/ doggie -> From gopetfriendly. Click HERE.
- Three Dog-Friendly Hikes around Jackson -> Click HERE.
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Beautiful photos. I’m so glad you guys loved. Hopefully we can meet up again next year.
Sooooo happy we came, and super happy we met you too! Definitely hope we meet up again down the road.
Robyn D says
Thanks for this post. We have been traveling with doggie and kittie for the last 2 years, but did not take them to Teton and Yellowstone with us (we went for a wedding). I love the NPs, but have not been since we have been on the road, other than that. Glad for the NF tip. Will look for other workarounds when we get to our next park.
Glad it helped! The few times we’ve visited National Parks we’ve almost always stayed right outside on National Forest (or BLM) land with doggie-friendly hiking trails, and then we’ve just done shorter day trips into the NP. We don’t get to do everything in the NP, but it’s been good enough for us.
Glad you like it here. We love it as well! We also have 8 paws with us, we do hike in the park, but being here on the ranch for the summer we find they enjoy running around the 100 acres, so we tire them out first then go fr a hike while they’re napping :-). But as you said, there are plenty of spots that are pet-friendly outside of the park. Buffalo Valley Road has great views as well and miles of hiking. Caveat this time if year is be VERY bear aware. If you are hanging around any longer, send me a message, would love to meet you in person.
Thanks for the tip on Buffalo Valley Road! That area didn’t show up in my initial research. And unfortunately we’ve moved on already, so we won’t be able to meet-up this time around.
terri bishop says
thanks for the tips and wish we had your wisdom before our trip there in June! We were disappointed at all the driving required around Yellowstone (leaving puppy behind) but we had some great doggie moments at Colter Bay on Jackson Lake and were able to take our four legged family member out on our little boat and on some short hikes. In the future we are going to think twice about national parks.
Yellowstone is TOUGH for dog owners. It’s such a HUGE park, and (unlike the Tetons) there are really not many viewpoints from the road, so bringing doggie along for the drive really doesn’t make much sense. We’re in Yellowstone at the moment and struggling with that very thing. We’re trying to take small (as small as is possible in Yellowstone) trips, but will probably only see a very, very minor portion of the park. I think Yellowstone is a park best left for the day we are post-doggie. Many, many more options in the Tetons 🙂
crazy coincidence, also in Jackson as we speak, at the Virginian with an Airstream caravan. Thanks for the tips!
Sweet! We’ve actually moved on north to Yellowstone now, but ENJOY! We’re missing the Tetons already.
So glad you guys found some fun things to do with the pup – the national parks can be a real challenge that way. We’ll be in West Yellowstone tomorrow (the 13th) – let us know if you’ll be on that side of the park. It’s would be fun to meet up!
We’re here and would love to meet! I’ve sent you an email.
Dave Burdick says
I am saying it again Nina…and this time with respect to the recent tragic loss you have gone through…with a Service Dog, or a Comfort Dog, you can go anywhere. Might be worth talking to a doctor about…or perhaps Paul needs a comfort dog with the huge drop in the Stock Market. –Dave
Jodee Gravel says
While nearly all outdoor seating areas we’ve found to be dog-friendly, the town of Fortuna, CA, was one where none of the patios allowed doggies. It was weird. Will remember that about Jackson. Thanks for the great tips on places to get outdoors with Tessa in that beautiful area. I’m sure you already have the bringfido.com app, and hope you’re adding places and doing reviews on there as well 🙂
Most places we’ve been to are pretty relaxed about doggies in outdoor areas, but every now and then we come across a town where they don’t allow it. Jackson is one of those towns. Thank goodness Teton Village is so dog friendly, and right next door too. That town added many paw-stars to the area.
Jim and Gayle says
Grand Teton is probably our favorite national park, and I have trouble picking favorites!
I have to admit we ended up loving it here waaaaay more than we expected. This place is a keeper!
Very interesting post, especially as we have a new puppy and have never travelled in the US with a dog. Can you recommend a resource (apart from your website) for dog friendly places. We are traveling to Yuma, Arizona and cannot find very much apart from the bark park where dogs are allowed
Try fellow RVers http://gopetfriendly.com. They should have some listings for you. Also http://bringfido.com is good.
Lastly we’ve spent quite a big of time around Yuma and I know all the BLM land around Tumco and American Girl Mine allows doggies. We took Polly to Tumco a while back:
Pam Wright says
Thanks for the great info even for those of us without a dog:) This area is so beautiful and the motorcycle was the perfect way to tour. But we need to return to put the boots on the ground this time. You gave us lots of great information for the various areas to hike, drive, and eat! Lovely photos, epsecially that last shot:)
You guys would be able to do all the hikes in the park that we couldn’t, which I know is right up your alley. These are some BIG rocks!
Even more stunning photos?! I love it! Thanks Nina. I’m so glad you guys have had this opportunity to take in the Grand Teton area. It is one of my favorite places of all time as well. And your list of places to go and things to see has given me some more ideas for my next trip to the area. Thanks for sharing!
PS: I love the montra “put our river thru your liver”. That’s a classic I’ll have to remember. 🙂
Yeah when I read their motto I thought it was one of the best I’d seen. Genius!
Dennis & Chris says
Excellent article! We’re volunteering at Flaming Gorge and since it is U.S. Forest Service, pets are welcome. Not to mention the abundance of dispersed camping, camping grounds etc. Had an old ranger explain it: Forest Service = Conservation, Parks = Preservation. Each does have a place in things but the wise use is the one for us, rather than the preserve as it was forever.
Thanks Nina, great photos and info.
We stayed at Flaming Gorge right on the rim a few years back. Loved the area! Lots of pooch-friendly hiking, swimming and of course those rim views are amazing. Great place to volunteer!
Here’s our post on the area in case you’re interested:
Simply Spectacular – Flaming Gorge, UT
I was just at Great Sand Dunes National Park and you can take doggies on the dunes and also on the trails in the hills. Unfortunately, there are few, if any, sites in the campground that you could park a motorhome the size of yours. 🙁
That’s one spot we haven’t been to yet, so that’s great to know.
Your breathtaking photos make me want to head to the Tetons now Nina! Can’t tell you how much I look forward to your beautiful images. We really enjoyed Jackson when we visited but would like to go back to the brewery. I understand you not wanting to hike without that beautiful gal!
The brewery was fabulous. It always ups the value of a town when they have a good brew pub in it IMHO, at least for us. Thoroughly enjoyed our time here.
Thanks for the tip on National forest. We often consider a NP tour but opt out because we too do very little without our dogs . And I have read your blog for 2or three years now, thank you for sharing your adventures.
Yeah we’ve done a few NP’s this way. We typically stay outside the NP with doggie (either on NF or BLM land) and then just do a single ~4 hour day-trip into the park to drive around and (maybe) do some very short hikes. We’ve visited Moab and Bryce this way. We still don’t do alot of NP’s since we just can’t enjoy them to the same extent without doggie, but it’s an option for getting a “taste” of the NP’s along the way.
Alexandra @ Vandy Vagabonds says
Thank you so much for rounding up these dog friendly adventures! We have two dogs ourselves and are hoping to be outdoors and as active as possible with them. We’re just starting our fulltime RV adventures, though (only 2 weeks into it!) so this post is a huge resource and help for us. Thanks, again!
Welcome to life on the road, and very glad it’s helpful! Maybe we’ll meet down the line!
Francine & Michel says
Your photos are superb and give us desires to go there on our next visit in 2 years
Read you may
Vos photos sont superbes et nous donnes envies d’y aller lors de notre prochain séjour dans 2ans
A vous lire peut-être
Merci beaucoup! Nina
Good post again Nina. I love the National parks and wish they would change the dog rule. We go to Rocky Mtn Park almost every year and could not take our dogs on trail, but when we went hiking we saw horses on our trails. Never understood how they can ban dogs but allow a horse. Oh well, not much can be done about it, but going to the National Forest is a good suggestion, thanks!
Yeah it’s one of those things. I’ve seen horses in Rocky Mountain, Mules in Grand Canyon and even Llamas in other National Parks. Oh well! At least the National Forests are all dog-friendly. Good for doggie-crazy folks like us.
Mike Fischer says
Bookmarking this list! For us it’s also always about the dog(s). We’ve had mostly great luck in state parks, but it’s always tough in National Parks. It’s starting to look like we’ll be adding solar panels in December, so we hope to visit more National Forests in 2016 and are starting to collect dog-friendly ideas. Thanks for sharing!
-Mike & Kathie
Glad it’s helpful! The Tetons were a wonderful surprise, doggie-wise. We definitely enjoyed our time here.
Alison Erickson says
Another tip re: dog-friendly hiking around the Tetons: we just stayed there – on the west side (in Victor, ID) and had one of the most lovely hikes I can remember. It goes up the Teton Canyon from Teton Canyon Campground, alongside the Teton River. You can hike all the way up into the park and up the peaks from the backside if you want, but just hiking a few miles gives exquisite views. It is in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, so dog-friendly, and much less populated with other hikers than in the park.
Totally agree with you – the Tetons are spectacular, and the valleys on each side are just so lovely. It was our first time there also, but won’t be our last.
Nice tip! I’d love to visit the Tetons from the West side one day, and it’s an extra bonus to know there are dog-friendly hikes on that side.
Sherry in MT says
What a great post for us “dog-gone travelers”. I avoid most NPs because of no dogs and too many people! LOL But this post is a keeper for me as you are so close to my haunting grounds. Love national forests and I’m also a big fan of stops at fishing accesses (outside the parks of course) and in the late seasons – deserted barred off campgrounds! One reason I love the state parks so much. Thanks so much for this one!
We had a fine time with doggie here. It’s definitely a spot we’ll come back to with the paws. Glad the blog post is helpful for other doggie “nutters” like us
Big Sky RV says
As for the National Parks, I haven’t explored Yellowstone much with our dogs but to the North of Yellowstone both Livingston, MT and Bozeman, MT are very dog friendly. We are located in Bozeman and there are tons of hiking opportunities for you and your four-legged best friend all around us. Next time you make it up this way, look us up, we love meeting fellow RV travelers.
Just spent four nights at Virginian RV Park. We hiked Snow King with our dog – wonderful views of the downtown and Tetons in the background; our pup loved being off leash, went to Gros Ventre Wilderness (our pup swam in the lake at Atherton Creek camp site/boat launch area) and hiked the Grizzly trail. Because our dog was so tired from all the hiking, we were able to do the scenic loop around Teton National Park to see the major highlights while our dog slept (thanks for the post on best photo ops – Schwabacher Landing is a MUST). Simply breathtaking scenery. It was wonderful. As for dog-friendly dining, we went to Cafe Genevieve in Jackson (lovely outdoor seating with our dog); Persephone Bakery in Jackson (outdoor seating even had hooks for dog leashes), and Mangy Moose in Teton Village was able to accommodate us with our dog on the outside deck. I feel that Jackson is much more friendly than some of the towns we are visiting in Colorado. We were able to do so much with our dog to keep him happy and tired. Makes me want to go back to Jackson right now.
Oh what a wonderful trip! Your descriptions are making me want to go back too! So happy you enjoyed it all, and thanks much for reporting back.
Thanks so much for all this info! We are considering a trip to Wyoming with the doggies and want to plan out the best dog-friendly options. What are the best times of year to enjoy the outdoors while also not being in crowds of people? How is late May/early June there?
Spring is a good time to visit. I (personally) love Fall too, just for the colors and beauty. According to Teton Park records peak visitation months are June, July and August.