Yellowstone's New Trail Guide for Visitors Using Wheelchairs
Sep 12, 2011
For outdoors enthusiasts who yearned to get their wheelchair into Yellowstone National Park and explore its trails, the Park had, until recently, lacked an overall trail guide for visitors who use wheelchairs. Although wheelchair access remains difficult in some of the park’s 3,468 square miles, now the new “Accessibility in Yellowstone: A Guide for Visitors who use Wheelchairs” breaks that area down into eight zones, detailing what’s within reach.
“Accessibility in the park is a top priority in terms of visitor experience and the design of our facilities,” park spokesman Dan Hottle said. For the hearing-impaired, volume-controlled public phones have been around for quite a while, as well as sign language interpreters for the park ranger programs. Blind visitors could read Yellowstone Today in Braille.
With the new “Accessibility in Yellowstone” booklet details wheelchair accessibility in areas like Mammoth, the Norris Geyser Basin, Madison, and Old Faithful, Hottle hopes wheelchair access can soon be improved to attractions such as Biscuit Basin, Obsidian Cliff and the Calcite Springs Overlook.
“If we can improve an overlook area or a trail, where someone can get out of their vehicle and get as close to the railing as everyone else, that’s our goal,” Hottle said. However, because the main goal is to alter the natural landscape as little as possible, he added the caveat, “There are going to remain areas that will simply —yet unfortunately— only be accessible to those who can reach them by foot.”
Many boardwalks network throughout Yellowstone National Park, and whenever funding allows, the plan is to continue adding access for people with disabilities. A variety of factors must be taken into account in these plans – What can the terrain support? How to maintain aesthetics? What would be the environmental and cultural impacts?
Are you an outdoors type? Would you travel to Yellowstone National Park, or have you already been there?