Pets in Virginia State Parks
One of the great things about Virginia State Parks is that you can bring your four-legged loved ones along.
It’s rare to find a state park system anywhere in America that is as pet friendly as Virginia.
The following ten simple suggestions can greatly impact your visit and make it enjoyable for everyone, including your pet.
While pets are allowed at all of our Virginia State Parks, one minor exception is False Cape State Park. Even though pets are allowed at this park, they are not permitted access through Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge. So, if you want to bring them along to False Cape, you’ll need to plan accordingly, call 1-800-933-7275 for assistance.
Pets are allowed in every cabin, lodge, and campground. There is a per pet nightly charge for a pet to stay in a cabin to help cover the extra cleaning. Customers with pet allergies may contact the park at least a week before check-in to request allergen-removal cleaning for a reserved cabin.
Please note, pets are not allowed in yurts. They are also not allowed in public facilities (bathhouses, visitor centers, park offices, restaurants, etc.), but be sure to ask at the park. They may be allowed to sit with you in outside eating areas.
See our cabin fees here (PDF). Call 800-933-7275 for reservations.
Enjoy your pet’s company but remember that not everyone is comfortable around them. Keep your pet leashed and under control at all times.
We require pets to be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet and kept under supervision while in the park.
3. WITH YOU
Keep your pet with you. Leaving it unattended is no fun for the pet or nearby visitors.
If your pet is not with you, keep it confined (like in a crate) in a comfortable environment. If a pet is left unattended, becomes a nuisance in violation of the leash law, disturbs others by barking during quiet hours or damages a park facility, the owner’s stay may be terminated without refund. The owner will be billed for any damage to park facilities caused by pets.
4. FOOD AND WATER
Always ensure your pet has plenty of food and, most importantly, ample water.
Our parks provide water fountains for you and some for your four-legged family members. But be prepared when out on the trail, as the heat can creep up on you and your pet.
5. TRAIL SAFETY
Respect and enjoy your state parks and Virginia’s natural resources.
Stay on the trail. Don’t try to hike too far or too high within a limited time frame; try always to get back safely while it is still light. If you can, tell someone which trail you will be on before you leave.
We highly recommend you use tick protection on yourself and your pet before arriving at the park, as ticks are common in Virginia’s outdoors. Be sure to do a tick check after each hike or walk outdoors, on yourself and your pets.
State regulations prohibit pets at designated swim areas on swimming beaches and in pool areas. But they are allowed to make a splash in the water at our larger lakes, bays, rivers and creeks if kept on a leash at all times.
Enjoy water recreation but don’t use the water as a tub or swimming pool for your pet. Bear Creek Lake has a designated swim area for pets, and they can also use the southern beach at Kiptopeke and also swim at First Landing.
Hint: Ask a Ranger if there is a place for Fido to dip or wade in the park. They are also allowed to join you if you bring your stand-up paddleboard. See our pet policies here.
7. LEAVE NO TRACE
Please leave no waste behind for the next visitor to find. Bring your own bags to pick up your pet’s waste promptly. Ask about waste bag dispensers and the location of trash dumpsters if you are unsure.
Pet owners must clean up after their pets; this includes outside the cabin areas. Unfortunately, some pet owners don’t always consider other guests.
Respect the natural habitat of wildlife by keeping your pet at a safe distance.
Another reason we require pets to be kept secure on leashes as this is the great outdoors, and we have an abundance of wildlife. This will ensure the safety of yourself and your pet. You may also be asked to leave the park if you encroach on their space (like in the photo above).
9. ENJOY THE QUIET
Enjoy all the benefits of the outdoors and keep pet noise to a minimum for the benefit of other visitors.
We realize pets can become excited when visiting a park, seeing other pets, people and all those fun things they can do outside. Refer back to #3: If a pet is left unattended, becomes a nuisance in violation of the leash law, disturbs others by barking during quiet hours or damages a park facility.
10. KEEP IT SIMPLE
Follow these simple rules as posted and it will leave a positive impression on all pet owners and ensure that this privilege continues at our parks.
We receive complaints from non-pet owners about pets not being maintained on leashes and rushing up to small children. And you know it’s not fun to hike a trail and step in dog-doo. We can prevent this and allow everyone pleasurable time outside at Virginia State Parks.
To avoid potential inconvenience, we ask that you bring proof of current rabies vaccination (tags).
Assistance dogs are not considered pets; hence are always welcome in all facilities at no additional charge.
There’s no reason for them to miss out on all the family fun