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June 1, 2010

Camping for Everyone: Disabled and Handicapped Campers

Gold Camp Road, outside Colorado Springs

Gold Camp Road, outside Colorado Springs
Photo by: mexikids (Stock Exchange)

Thanks for “tuning in” to today’s AllCampgrounds blog. We’ve not seen hide nor hair of our “Camping for Everyone” series for a while now, but that’s about to change as we discuss camp grounds catering to a growing demographic: campers who need wheelchairs, walkers, or other assisting equipment, but still want to be active and enjoy the outdoors. Luckily, with more and more awareness of access rights, there are plenty of places where visitors of all ability can enjoy nature in a serene and beautiful environment.

Wheelchair Visitors in the National Park System

The best place to start for accessible camp grounds is in the national park system. The great National Park Service bulletin “National Parks: Accessible to Everyone” focuses on parks that have the best facilities for visitors with limited mobility or other impairments. There’s also listings of trails and terrific vistas that are considered especially easy to access: level, safe, and accommodating to wheelchair users.

Campers with permanent disabilities qualify for a Free Access Pass for national parks and recreation lands administered by the federal government. The Pass allows you to waive Access Fees and Standard Amenity charges for all federal parks and lands. It’s easy to obtain, and lasts a lifetime, with no frustrating bureaucracy or time-consuming renewals. You can get the Pass in person at any federal recreational area.

Recreation.gov is where you can go to reserve your space at national parks around the country. You can also find tent camping and RV parks and campgrounds using the search function, which provides info on wheelchair-friendly facilities that may be present.

Picking the Right Camp Grounds and Equipment

Wilderness camping can be tough on your wheelchair, so if you plan to camp regularly, consider a model that’s built for multiple terrains, but still accommodates your basic travel needs. One choice is Renegade Wheelchairs. Designed to stand tough for users who regularly hunt, fish, and adventure in nature, it’s got some real “cherry” features that can turn accessibility up a notch outdoors. This includes eight gears to handle snow, slush, sand, and mud, with high gears for paved, level surfaces.

Not all campsites have comprehensive plans in mind for accessibility – but if you’re dealing with privately-owned or family camp grounds, you can find out more about how easy or difficult the sites will be for you by asking the right questions. Be sure that your campsite is level and lacks obstacles like stumps and stones that might make it tough to navigate. Paved hiking trails are always preferable, and those with railing are even better. Check out Eureka Tents for specially designed, quality tents that wheelchair users can set up independently for the total tent camping experience.

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