Fact checked

Are Dogs Allowed in Acadia National Park?

3 minutes
While some national parks may allow household animals such as cats or dogs, others may not unless your dog is a service or support animal. Learn about Acadia National Park's rules here.
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
February 16, 2023

Acadia National Park is a stunning day trip for all ages, and it's also the perfect place to take your dog for some summer sunshine. The Acadia National Park border encompasses over 48,000 acres that include Mount Desert Island, Schoodic Peninsula, Isle Au Haut, and other islands. Acadia is also one of the few national parks that permits dogs on certain, designated trails.

If you're taking a service animal with you, you'll be able to bypass the restrictions put in place for other pet owners.

Whether you're traveling with your pet or your emotional support dog, you'll want to know the rules ahead of time, as well as the documentation you should take with you if you're planning on visiting pet friendly national parks like Acadia.

Acadia National Park & Pets

If you're going to be bringing your dog to Acadia, then you'll need to be mindful of the guidance that the park publishes on its website. While the park is dog friendly, your pup is still expected to show good behavior.

The general guidance for regular pet dogs is as follows:

  • Dogs are allowed to roam the 100 miles of hiking trails and 45 miles of carriage roads with you, in addition to the Blackwoods and Seawall Campgrounds.
  • During daytime hiking, you can also take your furry friend to Isle au Haut, with the exception of the Duck Harbor Campground.
  • Your dog must be kept away from most lakes, as these are public water sources (you can't swim in them either). However, in the winter months between September 16 and May 14, your dogs may swim at Sand Beach and Echo Lake, if you permit it.
  • The Wild Gardens of Acadia are off-limits to pets.
  • Pets should be kept away from more difficult park locations that have ladders, including Precipice, Beehive, Ladder Trail to Dorr Mountain Beech Cliffs, Beech Cliffs Trail, Perpendicular Trail (Mansell Mountain), and the Jordan Cliffs trail (between Penobscot East Trail and the carriage road).
  • Removing pet waste is important; it should be collected and disposed of properly.

That being said, service animals are excluded from these restrictions. According to the park website, these dogs can accompany their owner to all of the locations offered by the park.

You'll also find kennels in Ellsworth and Bar Harbor in case you need to give your pup some rest while you're elsewhere.

What is a service animal?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service animal is a dog that has received training to carry out tasks for an owner with a disability. This generally applies to people who have sight or hearing disabilities, diabetes, and other conditions that trained pups can help to manage.

However, the ADA unfortunately does not recognize emotional support animals (ESAs) as service dogs. Where does this leave you with regards to Acadia's rules? To prove the legitimacy of your emotional support animal, you'll benefit from an ESA letter.

An ESA letter proves your need for a service animal, allowing you to receive certain accommodations in housing, travel, and other public spaces. This document is crucial if you're using a dog to manage a mental health condition, as other people will unfortunately not be able to see your disability and thus may question it.

Why Bring a Dog to Acadia National Park?

The main benefit of taking your dog to Acadia National Park is, of course, that they'll get a great deal more exercise than usual. The vast, open spaces mean that your pup can run free for hours on end, and you'll get to explore the natural surroundings too.

And there's another, hidden benefit to taking your dog to national parks. An official study found that dog ownership leads to a vast increase in achieving exercise goals among all dog owners. It's well-documented that higher levels of physical activity release dopamine that can help us feel happier and calmer.

Couple that with the benefits of fresh air, which can alleviate stress and anxiety, and your emotional support dog could soon be helping you manage your condition in more ways than one.

Why You Need to Get an ESA Letter

An ESA letter provides justification for your dog accompanying you into places that are not dog friendly. Visual cues like mobility canes or hearing aids will often signify why a dog is in a store with its owner. But with emotional support dogs, you don't have any kind of visual cues to put that message across, which could increase the likelihood of being questioned on your dog's presence.

That's why we recommend getting an ESA letter to qualify for emotional support animal assistance. The first step is to talk with a therapist, after which you'll be able to get your letter and prove that your dog is your support animal.

The process to get an ESA letter is simple, and here at Pettable, we make it as quick and easy as possible. After a brief initial consultation, we'll connect you with a therapist so that you can get the documentation you need. We'll even refund you in full if your request is unsuccessful for any reason.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.