Refuge Pet Policy

Why Are Dogs Prohibited at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge?

Dogs (pets) are not allowed at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge and Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge. Bringing your dog to a national wildlife refuge can be very disruptive to wildlife and some visitors.

Many wildlife species perceive dogs (pets) as a predator and in some instances as prey to larger predatory species. Dogs (pets) can chase wildlife or be a visual threat to wildlife and birds, causing wildlife and birds to flee nesting, burrowing, feeding, and resting sites. The lingering scent of the dog (pet) can signal the presence of a predator, long after the dog (pet) is gone. The disturbance of wildlife burns much needed energy that animals need to survive and raise their young.

Dogs (pets) can carry disease into the refuge’s wildlife populations. Dogs could unknowingly carry canine distemper, which can be detrimental to the health of our endangered black-footed ferrets and other small mammals. Dogs bark and disturb the quiet of the refuge. Unfamiliar sights, sounds, and smells can disturb even the calmest, friendliest, and best-trained dog, causing them to behave unpredictably or bark excessively.

Dogs and other pets brought to the refuge for a drive on the auto tour route must remain inside the vehicle while on the Refuge and should not be allowed to disturb or harass wildlife.

Service Animals

Service animals are allowed, but must be on leash control at all times. The definition of a service animal is any animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. The crime deterrence effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks for the purposes of this definition.

Emotional support, therapy, or comfort animals do not qualify or meet the definition of a service animal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For more information on service animals please refer to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s “Frequently Asked Questions about Service Animals and the ADA” pdf file

Since I Can’t Bring My Pet to the Refuge, Where Else Can I Go?

As an alternative, visitors can walk dogs on leash along the perimeter trail, located just outside the Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR’s boundary. The trailhead and parking are located just before the Refuge entrance on Gateway Rd. It’s a great way to see Refuge wildlife, without impacting you, your dog, or the wildlife. Other multi-user trails and parks around the refuges can be found at the following:

• Commerce City Parks, Recreation, and Golf:
    o Parks and Trails website
    o Trails Map
• Adams County Parks, Open Space, & Cultural Arts:
    o Trails and Trailheads website
    o Trails Map
• City of Arvada Open Space and Nature
    o Trails website
    o Trails Map
• Jefferson County Open Space
    o Open Space website
    o Trails Map