Even though our Wheels UP! Photo Contest is coming to an end, it doesn’t mean traveling and being active should stop
Camping and being outdoors are a great way to be active and to explore, but for a person with a disability that can be particularly difficult. With roads that aren’t paved and far away from bathrooms, camping with a wheelchair is not ideal. Fortunately, over the years, many campgrounds have been adding accessible sites. We’ve rounded up some accessible campgrounds for you to check out. Before you go camping, please check with your doctor and explain your trip ideas and the campground so they can help advise you.
Gulf State Park – Alabama
Gulf State Park in Golf Shores, Ala. has a campground that has all paved roads. Just one and a half miles from the shore, the campground has 496 full-hookup campsites and has amenities such as air-conditioned bathhouses, camp store, laundry facilities, swimming pool with a splash pad area and tennis courts so you can get some wheelchair tennis in. It is also in close proximity to the Hugh S. Branyon Backcountry Trail, which has 25 miles of paved trails with beautiful scenery.
Kartchner Caverns State Park, Arizona
Kartchner Caverns State Park is located nine miles south of Benson, Ariz. The campground has three specific accessible sites and they have paved access to the sites and are adjacent to the restrooms. The sites also have a paved pad and a wheelchair accessible table. All of the other sites are wheelchair accessible, but not specific for wheelchair users so they may be far from the restroom and don’t have a wheelchair accessible table. Most of the park is handicap accessible, but the hiking trails are unfortunately not accessible because of their uneven, unpaved surfaces. But don’t let that discourage you, the park has plenty of other accessible options. Kartchner Caverns State Park is known for the cave that was discovered in 1978. The cave is accessible by wheelchair and scooter. The cave is also equipped with rest areas for needed stops and a majority of the trails have a stainless-steel railing, but be prepared for some curves, inclines and declines that may exceed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Great Sand Dunes National Park is in southern Colorado. Sand dunes may sound intimidating for wheelchair users, but the park is working to make it more and more accessible for everyone. They have accessible mats from the dunes to the parking area and they have an accessible viewing platform. For camping, they have accessible campsites in the Piñon Flas Campground that has easy access to accessible rest rooms, hardened trail surfaces, picnic tables and fire rings. The Sawmill Canyon Backcountry Campsite also has accessible sites that can accommodate up to four wheelchairs. They have a paved trail to the campsite, elevated tent pad, picnic table, fire gate, firewood and food storage containers and a private accessible pit toilet. Exploring the dunes is where it would get tough. As you may know, the sand on the actual dunes themselves would be exponentially difficult to maneuver a traditional wheelchair around. The park has two wheelchairs that are available to loan at the Visitor Center, one for adults and one for children. A helper is required to push the wheelchair around.
Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is working to make their park more accessible, but for the mean time they do have accessible campgrounds. Their website states that each campground has at least one fully accessible campsite. All of the major areas, except West Thumb, have accessible restrooms. They also have an accessible fishing site on the Madison River. There is accessible parking and three medical clinics that are all accessible, with wheelchairs that can be rented if needed. Some of their trails are accessible, but not all. For more information, contact their accessibility coordinator at 307-344-2314.
Hillsborough River State Park, Florida
Hillsborough River State Park is located in Thonotosassa, Fla., which is close to downtown Tampa. With 112 campsites, seven of them are fully accessible with paved sites. They also have half acre salt water swimming pool that is ADA accessible.
Moss Park Campground, Florida
Moss Park Campground is located in Orlando, Fla. The campsites are very large and have a raised grill, high sides on the fire pit, paving around the water and electrical hookups and a paved pathway to the accessible restrooms. Moss Park is also one of the closest campgrounds to Disneyworld.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park, California
Big Basin Redwoods State Park is located 25 miles north of Santa Cruz, Calif. It was established in 1902 making it the state’s oldest state park. There are five campgrounds at the park with a total of 15 accessible campsites that include accessible parking, water stations, restrooms and more. There are also picnic areas with accessible picnic tables and restrooms nearby. The Campfire Center is also accessible for wheelchair users.
California has a list of every campground that has at least one accessible campsite. You can check out the list, here.
Beachside State Recreation Site, Oregon
Located in Waldport, Ore., Beachside State Recreation is a small, coastal campground that has two fully accessible campsites. It is a seasonal campground that is open from March 15 through November 1 every year.
Oregon has a big list of every campground that has at least one accessible campsite. You can check out the list, here.
Cayuga Lake State Park, New York
Cayuga Lake State Park is located in Seneca Falls, N.Y. which is in the Finger Lakes Region. The campgrounds have accessible boat launches, cabins, campsites, picnic tables, fishing and pavilions.
Searching for an accessible campsite can be difficult, but don’t let that stop you. When looking for an accessible campground, be patient. Look through the whole website for the campground you have in mind, and if you are having troubles, don’t be afraid to make a phone call and talk to someone who oversees the campground. If the specific campground you want is not accessible, try another one near you. While there are many state parks and campgrounds that are not accessible, there are hundreds that are. Don’t be discouraged! If there are any campsites that you’ve been to that are accessible, we would love to hear from you! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured.