National Parks Edition: A dog friendly guide to hiking the Grand Canyon

National Parks Edition: A dog friendly guide to hiking the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is a great place to travel with your canine companion, but ensure you are prepared for the heat. I have visited the Grand Canyon with my beagle Snoopy twice, and the views never fail to take my breath away. The best months to visit are March through May, September, and October. Arizona summers are brutal if you are not a native to the hot dry desert. The Grand Canyon can be viewed from the North Rim or the South Rim, depending where you are traveling from. I recommend the South Rim, as it is more dog friendly than the North Rim. It is important to know that dogs cannot go into the canyon, and can only walk around it on the paths along the canyon rim. Avid hikers who want to backpack into the canyon have the option to board their dog at a kennel on the South Rim.


I highly recommend turning your hiking trip into a camping trip to get the most out of your adventure! You can spend more time at the Canyon if you stay a night or two (we stayed two nights), especially if you are commuting from out of town. The main campground at the South Rim is Mather Campground, and they require reservations to be booked in advance. Pets are welcome but are not to be left unattended or off-leash. Snoopy (my adult male Beagle/ adventure bud) and I have camped at Mather twice and had a great experience both times. There are laundry and shower facilities at the entrance to the campground for a small fee. Back In 2018, I paid $2 for an eight minute hot shower, and it was worth it after a full day of hiking in the hot sun. From Mather Campground it is a 15-20 minute walk to the Grand Canyon and the general store (for any supplies you may have forgotten). Watch out for wildlife during your visit and give them their respected space when you do see them. There are many elk wandering the campground and canyon rim that are not afraid of dogs or humans. I have also seen a coyote running through the trees about 20 feet from me and Snoopy one early morning, and make sure to listen for their eerie howling at night! 

My best tips for staying cool with your furry friend in the Arizona sun - start your hike early in the morning, take lots of water breaks, and utilize the shade when possible. I’ve also tied a bandana soaked in cold water around Snoopy’s neck in Arizona and California to keep him from overheating. A general rule is to have 1 liter of water per hour you intend to hike in extreme heat. We took 5 liters of water between two people and a dog, and filled up our water bladders whenever we came across water fountains along the path. A collapsible bowl is essential for your dog, and bring a water filter system if there is running water along the trail you are adventuring on. My Katadyn hiker microfilter has had a lot of use when hiking and camping in California and Arizona. Research the closest ER or general practice veterinary hospital in case your furry friend gets injured or has a heat stroke. Heat stroke can be deadly in dogs, so here are some signs to watch out for: excessive panting, vomiting and diarrhea, ataxia, weakness, and collapsing. 

It is important to only hike to your dog’s capabilities, and if you are planning on completing a longer trail then train up to it with your dog. Remember to do your research ahead of time and pack a lot of water. Lastly, don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beautiful memories with your outback hound.

Cheers to adventure,

Aline Heckelman RVT

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About the author: Aline is a dedicated registered veterinary professional and avid weekend adventurer. She has devoted her career to caring for animals in both preventative and speciality medicine. Things she never leaves home without: her best bud and adventure pal, Snoopy the beagle. 

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