De Soto Dog Policy
De Soto National Memorial is Dog Friendly
Hernando de Soto landed in Tampa Bay in 1539 and met with resistance from Native Americans protecting their homes. There are exhibits here preserving the cultural heritage of both de Soto's voyage, as well as the Native American people.
De Soto National Memorial is a dog friendly destination. Dogs are allowed on the trails (which have a lot of exhibits and info on the location) and on the beach while on a leash no longer than 6'. Fishing is also popular at park, and an activity you can share with your dog.
De Soto National Memorial also participates in the BARK Ranger program, where you can get a special dog tag by following best practices with your dog (see the BARK Ranger section below).
Bark Ranger is a really great program that some National Park Service destinations run. The Bark Ranger program teaches dog owners responsible behaviors with their dogs, and in return you get a special dog tag that’s different for each park (note: some parks require you to purchase the tag at the end). You start the program by going to a park office and picking up a checklist. When you complete the checklist (see the link below for more details), you can get your special dog tag.
B.A.R.K. is an acronym for:
- B: Bag your poop
- Help keep the park clean by bagging and picking up your dog poop, and properly disposing of it. Don’t leave your bagged poop on the side of the trail, hanging from branches, or throw it into the woods. Please note dog poop is not a natural fertilizer — it can carry disease that can spread to wildlife or other dogs.
- A: Always wear a leash
- Dogs must be restrained on a leash no longer than 6'. Retractable leashes that extend beyond 6' are not allowed. Not everyone appreciates a dog running up to them, and many people are scared or allergic to dogs — a leash prevents uncomfortable situations between your dog and others. Leashes also help protect your dog from running off if anything spooks them.
- R: Respect wildlife
- Dogs can chase or scare wildlife such as birds and turtles. They can also damage nesting areas. Some parks have wildlife, such as bears, coyotes, or wolves, that can threaten your dog. Please be respectful of wildlife with your dog, and if you do encounter wildlife, keep dog at distance to protect both your dog and the wildlife.
- K: Know where to go
- Know which trails allow dogs, and which don’t. Don’t leave dogs unattended in vehicles while you go off to hike. See the link below for more details.
For more information on the Bark Ranger program, please see: https://www.nps.gov/deso/getinvolved/de-soto-bark-ranger-program.htm
We also have a list of all parks that run the BARK Ranger program.
Location & Map
Note: Policies can change -- please make sure to check official dog/pet policies prior to making plans or booking travel.
Please tell us if you think there’s anything we should add or change on this page.