Don't make the same mistake these dog owners did around hormonal bison

Bison herd at Yellowstone National Park
(Image credit: Getty)

A dog named Mac had an incredibly lucky escape after his owners accidentally allowed him to escape and run towards a pair of angry bison at Yellowstone National Park. Mac, a pitbull, was lucky to escape without injury after being tossed into the air, but things could easily have turned out differently. 

A video of the incident (which you can see below) was shared online by Mac's owners as a warning to other pet owners, and has recently started recirculating online as the bellows of rutting bison ring out across the park again.

Yellowstone has strict rules about pets, and this is one example of why. The National Park Service (NPS) explains that pets may only accompany you in developed areas, and must remain within 100ft of roads, parking areas, and campgrounds at all times. They aren't permitted on boardwalks, hiking trails, in the backcountry, or in thermal areas, and must be physically controlled at all times (on a short lead or in a crate, for example). If left, they must have proper access to shade, food, water and ventilation, but ideally they should never be unaccompanied.

The rules are strict, but they help keep you, your pet, and wildlife safe. In 2021, a woman suffered serious burns after trying to save her dog from a hot sprint at Yellowstone. As The Independent reported at the time, the victim suffered severe burns from her shoulders to her feet.

"Everyone must remain on boardwalks and trails and exercise extreme caution around thermal features," said the NPS in a statement "Visitors: while in the park, protect your pets by physically controlling them at all times." 

Visiting National Parks with your dog

Yellowstone isn't the best National Park to visit with your dog, but there are many others that are better suited to adventures with a pet. New River Gorge, West Virginia, is particularly dog-friendly, and your four-legged friend will be allowed on all the stunning trails around the gorge and through the dense forests.

Congaree, South Carolina, is another good option. Dogs are allowed on all trails, including the boardwalk loop through the stunning old-growth floodplain forest. It also has the advantage of being one of the least crowded National Parks in the US, so you'll get to enjoy some quiet time. Just make sure you pack your insect repellent before you head out. 

In Wrangell-St Elias, Alaska, dogs are allowed on both the trails and in the backcountry, which is very unusual. This enormous park is six times the size of Yellowstone, with fantastically varied geography that includes mountains, glaciers, and coastline. 

For more options, take a look at our guide to the eight best National Parks for dogs.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.