Think of Yosemite, and the famous national park comes immediately to mind. Yet the rugged landscapes that characterize the park don’t stop at its boundaries. The Yosemite Region encompasses parts of four counties, and dog-friendly fun comes easily in them all.
The largest chunk of park territory falls within eastern Mariposa County, along the Highway 140 corridor leading to the Arch Rock entrance. The gateway communities of Midpines and El Portal are convenient to thousands of acres of dog-friendly public lands in addition to the park itself, while the Merced River is a recreational magnet.
If you’re not the hiking or camping type, you’ll find many hotels to accommodate you and your pup in this scenic area. On the high end, Tenaya Lodge, near the park’s south (Wawona) entrance on Highway 41, is a luxury retreat with resort amenities. On the budget end, Yosemite Bug on Highway 140 is an eclectic establishment offering everything from modern cabins with private baths to tent cabins and hostel-style dorm accommodations.
And don’t forget: while dogs aren’t allowed on dirt trails in Yosemite National Park, they’re welcome in picnic areas, campgrounds, developed areas and paved paths. Among iconic sites that you and Sparky can enjoy together is Yosemite Falls, a voice-drowning, three-stage gusher that roars like a lion during snow-melt season before drying to a dribble in late summer.