For years AB and I have supported strongly national parks. We donate money to the parks system and believe strongly that it is an important asset.
I just have one beef.
The pet policy.
That would be the pet policy that basically says your dog should never leave your vehicle and even better - leave said dog at home.
Last weekend we went to Mt. Rainier National Park to the Sunrise Visitor's Center - a side we had never been to and man it was packed. We went to the visitor's center, found a place to take some pictures, grabbed some lunch and headed out.
You know, here, yes, I can understand a no pets please request. It was busy, the trails were packed and there was hardly room to get cars parked. We were just happy it wasn't hot in the car and were able to leave the dogs in the car.
But umm, the park is big. And we wanted to hike somewhere. And the dogs need to pee.
But nowhere that we stopped were those dogs allowed to leave our car. At each stop there was a park ranger wagging his finger and threatening hefty fines.
At one stop we thought we were over the border of the National Park and into the National Forest which does not have such pet laws.
We quickly found out we were 500 feet short of the National Forest boundary and those dogs could go right back into the vehicle.
And I know this will be an unpopular post because a woman standing near me went up and congratulated the ranger on his score of booting the dogs out by saying, "I just want to thank you, the GALL of some people to think they can bring their dogs ANYWHERE!" I couldn't help a quick retort to her citing the fact that it is a bit hard to know exactly where the park and forest boundary is when you are visiting a place for the first time. She, of course, glared at me fierce - but I think she was more embarrassed at being busted with a reasonable argument that she had no quick response for (not realizing *I* was with that crazy dog guy).
I get that not all pet owners are top notch. And for this, fine them. But not everyone is a bad apple! There certainly are enough rangers around to write those tickets out (and generate revenue in the meantime for the parks that we hear are starved for cash).
We found the invisible line separating park from forest and got out and set about a hike, where the trail was packed with dogs at every turn. Dogs not allowed just 500 feet away (with the same terrain and same views).
We love to travel. We love the parks. We love our long weekend adventures. We love hiking. We love our dogs. It makes me sad that this all can't be combined.
I am planning for a Yellowstone trip next spring break and already trying to figure out what the path forward will be with our dogs... who normally travel with us.