Miscellaneous

How Accessible are the US National Parks? Guide to Visiting with a Disability

The disability community often feels left out when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors. National parks are some of America’s greatest treasures, so shouldn’t everyone be able to enjoy them?

Good news – many national parks are becoming more and more accessible for visitors with disabilities. Did you know that over 300 national parks offer some level of accessibility? This includes features like wheelchair-accessible pathways, braille and raised markers, and Assistive Listening Devices.

What’s more, many national parks offer ranger-led programs and events that are specifically designed for visitors with disabilities. These programs may include Things like sign-language interpretation, tactile exhibits, and large-print materials.

If you’re planning on visiting a national park with a disability, there are some things you should keep in mind.

  • Check the park’s website: Once you’ve chosen a park, check the website for specific information on accessibility. This is where you’ll find detailed information on things like wheelchair-accessible trails and parking.

  • Call ahead: If you have specific questions or concerns, it’s always a good idea to call the park ahead of time. The staff will be able to give you tailored advice based on your individual needs. For example, they may be able to let you know if a particular trail is too rocky for a wheelchair.

  • Visit during the off-season: National parks can get pretty crowded during peak season. If you visit during the offseason, you’ll have an easier time navigating the crowds. Plus, many parks offer reduced rates for visitors with disabilities during this time.

  • Pack wisely: Be sure to pack any necessary items with you, such as a wheelchair or crutches. Depending on the park, you may not be able to rent these items on-site.

  • Get a park pass: You may need a special pass if you’re planning on using any of the park’s accessibility features, such as wheelchair-accessible trails. These passes are typically free of charge and can be obtained at the park visitor center.

  • Ask for a tour guide: Many national parks offer ranger-led programs that are specifically designed for visitors with disabilities. These programs may include things like sign-language interpretation, tactile exhibits, and large-print materials.

  • Look for events: Many national parks offer events that are specifically geared towards visitors with disabilities. These events may include things like ranger-led programs, tactile exhibits, and large-print materials.

  • Check the weather: Be sure to check the local weather forecast before heading to the park. Some accessibility features, such as wheelchair-accessible trails, may not be available if the ground is wet or icy.

  • Get a map: Be sure to pick up a map of the park at the visitor center. This will help you plan your route and find any accessibility features that you may need. Also, be sure to ask the staff for any tips on accessible routes.

Now that you know a little bit more about visiting national parks with a disability, it’s time to start planning your trip! Remember to consult the park’s website for specific information on accessibility and call ahead with any questions or concerns. And don’t forget to pack wisely, follow all posted rules and regulations, and get a park pass if necessary. With a little bit of planning, you’re sure to have a great time at the national park of your choice.