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Jason’s Connection Visits US National Parks
By: Susan Cutler | November 22nd 2017, 10:38 am
Susan Cutler

Susan Cutler is Outreach Director for Jason’s Connection, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to connecting people to resources that serve diverse needs, enrich lives and help meet goals. Our mission is to create an online community that connects people (and their family/caregivers) experiencing diverse challenges and unique needs, including disability, mental health, and aging to quality resources, information, supports and each other.

Jason’s Connection has just visited a few national parks this fall and would like to share information on accessibility and spectacular beauty.

Bryce Canyon National Park

A section of Rim Trail is accessible and Bryce Point Observation area was also accessible, views were spectacular. Check with each park for accessibility and other accommodations on trails and lodging. Both have accessible shuttles for wheelchairs.

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From the National Park Service:

“Most park facilities were constructed between 1930 and 1960. Some have been upgraded for accessibility, while others could be used with assistance. Because of the park’s natural terrain, only a half mile section of the Rim Trail between Sunset and Sunrise Points is wheelchair accessible. Sunrise at Paria Point. Best kept secret for very dark night skies and paved to the far end. The one-mile Bristlecone Loop at Rainbow Point has a hard surface and could be used with assistance, but several grades do not meet standards. Parking is marked at all overlooks and public facilities. Accessible campsites are available in Sunset Campground.”

Grand Canyon

Jasonsconnection.org visited The Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.  Walkways and paths can be rugged. All park shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible. Also a scenic drive accessibility permit allows access to some areas closed to public traffic. Service animals are allowed in all facilities, shuttle buses and trails.

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From the National Park Service:

“Many of the facilities at Grand Canyon are historic and built before current accessibility standards were set. The terrain is rugged with narrow, rocky trails and steep cliffs. Visitors using wheelchairs or who have visual impairments may need assistance.

All park shuttle buses are wheelchair accessible.

  • Shuttle buses are equipped with ramps and space to carry passengers in wheelchairs.
  • Please note: wheelchairs larger than 30 inches wide by 48 inches long (76 by 122 cm) cannot be accommodated on shuttle buses.
  • Most motorized scooters will not fit on the buses.
  • A Scenic Drive Accessibility Permit allows entry for visitors with mobility issues access to some areas closed to public traffic. The permit is available at entrance gates, National Park Service visitor centers, and hotel lobbies. The Accessibility Permit does not allow parking in designated handicap parking spaces; a state-issued parking pass is required.

A number of the daily Interpretive Ranger Programs are wheelchair accessible. When you arrive in the park, more detailed information is available at the visitor centers, or you can email the park email us here or call (928) 638-7888.

Accessibility guide from the National Park Service:

https://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/upload/accessibility-grca-T2012.pdf

Lake Powell National Recreation Area

Jasonsconnection.org visited Lake Powell and enjoyed a lovely three-hour boat trip on the Lake. The boat was wheelchair accessible. It also had headphones for visual description.  There are overnight houseboats as well for rent that are accessible as well but need to reserve in advance!

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Mesa Verde

Jasonsconnection.org ventured to see Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. We visited the accessible trail to Spruce Tree House overlook. It was spectacular. Spruce Tree Overlook is an accessible way to view one of the Ancestral Pueblo Cliff dwellings from around 1200 A.D.

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From the National Park Service:

“Mesa Verde National Park has accessibility limitations for people with vision, hearing or mobility impairments. Visitors encounter rugged terrain at an elevation of 7,000 to 8,500 feet. Steep cliffs, deep canyons and narrow trails can be a danger to all visitors. Persons with heart or respiratory ailments may have breathing problems at this altitude. Wheelchairs with wide rim wheels are recommended on trails.

General information is provided below. For a more detailed explanation, use the following links:

Accessibility info from the National Park Service:

https://www.nps.gov/meve/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Jasonsconnection.org visited Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park In Colorado. The park features an incredible canyon formed from two billion year old black rock. It has the oldest exposed rock on earth.

From the National Park Service:

“The following facilities are accessible to those with mobility impairments:

SOUTH RIM

  • South Rim Visitor Center
  • Restrooms along South Rim
  • South Rim Campground – 2 accessible camping sites, restrooms
  • Tomichi Point Overlook
  • Chasm View Overlook
  • Sunset View Overlook

NORTH RIM

  • Restroom at North Rim Ranger Station
  • Balanced Rock Overlook

The Black Canyon Movie

Our film shown at the South Rim Visitor Center meets Section 504 standards for audiences with hearing and visual impairments. Headphones for audio descriptions are available upon request. 

Accessibility info from the National Park Service:

https://www.nps.gov/blca/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm

Contact the park at (970) 641-2337 x205 or by email

Death Valley

Jasonsconnection.org visited and was awed by the Death Valley National Park in California. Death Valley is the largest of the national parks. It is the hottest place and one of the lowest points on earth. It is also the driest spot in North America. We were stunned by the barren beauty and salt flats. Drinking lots of water was a must.

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From the National Park Service:

“Many facilities in Death Valley National Park were built prior to current accessibility standards. Many facilities described in this guide are negotiable, but may not fully meet federal standards.

The InterAgency Access Passport, available at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station, and Scotty’s Castle, waives entrance fees for permanently disabled individuals who are residents of the United States.”

Accessibility info from the National Park Service:

https://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm

Many facilities in Death Valley National Park were built prior to current accessibility standards. Many facilities described in this guide are negotiable, but may not fully meet federal standards.

The InterAgency Access Passport, available at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station, and Scotty’s Castle, waives entrance fees for permanently disabled individuals who are residents of the United States.

FURNACE CREEK AREA

Furnace Creek Visitor Center

The visitor center is staffed throughout the year and rangers are available to answer questions. Site bulletins on Death Valley available in several languages.

•       Accessible parking.

•       Curb cuts to main entrance.

•       Accessible restroom facilities.

•       Automatic door opener for front and patio doors

•       Accessible Auditorium, Patio and Museum

•       Captioned Park Film and videos

•       Assistive Listening devices

•       Audio Descriptions

•       Wheelchair available for loan

•       Most Ranger-Led patio talks, map talks, and evening programs are accessible

Campgrounds

•       Furnace Creek Campground

Accessible sites available, Reserve online or phone 1-877-444-6777

Restrooms are accessible

accessible parking is available

•       Texas Spring Campground

Accessible sites available in upper loop. All sites first come-first served.

Restrooms in upper loop accessible.

•       Sunset Campground

16 accessible sites (first come, first serve)

accessible restroom.

paved and gravel surfaces.

Primarily for RV use.

Furnace Creek Ranch

•       accessible rooms available. Reserve online or phone 760-786-2345

•       Room Registration, General Store, Restaurants, Saloon, Borax Museum and Post Office accessible.

Furnace Creek Inn

•       Accessible rooms available. Reserve online or phone 760-786-2345.

•       Accessible parking, valet parking available.

•       Elevator service to all floors.

•       Swimming Pool has ADA lift.

STOVEPIPE WELLS AREA

Stovepipe Wells Resort

•       Accessible rooms available. Reserve online or by phone 760-786-2387.

•       Access available to all buildings. (Steep grades, Assistance may be required)

•       Swimming Pool is at ground level with an ADA lift.

•       Restroom facilities at pool and buildings accessible.

Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station

•       Ramp access to front door, but threshold to go over.

•       Closest accessible restrooms are at Stovepipe Wells General Store or Campground.

Stovepipe Wells Campground

•       no designated accessible sites.

•       Restrooms are accessible

•       accessible parking is available.

•       Campground has level gravel surface and many tent and RV sites are proximal to the restrooms

SCOTTY’S CASTLE AREA

On Sunday, October 18, 2015, a storm caused extensive flash flooding in the Scotty’s Castle area in northern Death Valley National Park. Initial assessments revealed damage to roads, utilities and some historic structures.

Scotty’s Castle is closed and will remain closed until further notice. Please contact 760-786-3200 for more information.

Scotty’s Castle

•       Fifty minute tour includes a flight of stairs up to second floor. Lift to the second floor is available.

•       Wheelchairs and canes are available to borrow.

•       English translation of tour available for hearing impaired. Foreign language translation of castle tours available.

•       Exhibits/ NHA sales building accessible with assistance

•       Restroom accessible (with assistance, Heavy door)

Grapevine Ranger Station

•       Accessible parking.

•       Accessible restrooms

•       no other services available

Mesquite Springs Campground

•       no designated accessible sites.

•       Campground has gravel and paved surfaces.

•       Accessible restrooms with parking.

WILDROSE AREA

Campgrounds

•       Wildrose Campground

◦       no designated accessible sites.

◦       Gravel surface.

◦       vault toilet not accessible.

◦       Tent camping

•       Thorndike Campground

◦       no designated accessible sites.

◦       Gravel surface.

◦       Accessible vault toilet.

◦       Tent camping.

◦       High clearance vehicle necessary

•       Mahogany Flat Campground

◦       no designated accessible sites.

◦       Gravel surface.

◦       Accessible vault toilet.

◦       Tent camping.

◦       High clearance vehicle necessary

SIGHTS & TRAILS

•       Badwater – Scenic viewpoint

◦       Accessible parking

◦       Ramp and boardwalk to edge of Badwater Pool.

◦       Ramp from end of Boardwalk onto salt flats

◦       Accessible vault toilets

•       Zabriskie Point – Scenic viewpoint

◦       Accessible parking with curb cuts

◦       Steep grade up to viewpoint- assistance required.

◦       Multiple viewpoint rest stops

◦       Accessible vault toilets.

◦       Similar badlands topography can be viewed via scenic drives through Twenty Mule Team Canyon or Artist’s Drive

•       Harmony Borax Works – Interpretive trail

◦       Accessible parking.

◦       ¼ mile trail with paved surface, moderate grade- assistance may be necessary

•       Salt Creek – Interpretive trail

◦       Parking in gravel lot

◦       ½ mile level boardwalk

◦       vault toilet not accessible

•       Dante’s View – Scenic viewpoint.

◦       Can be viewed from car

◦       Accessible parking with curb cuts

◦       vault toilet ¼ mile before viewpoint not accessible

•       Sand Dunes – Scenic viewpoint

◦       Can be viewed from car

◦       Accessible parking with curb cuts

◦       Access to dunes is rocky and uneven.

◦       Accessible vault restroom

•       Ubehebe Crater – Scenic viewpoint

◦       Accessible parking with curb cuts

◦       Can be viewed from car or viewpoint

•       Devil’s Golf Course – Scenic viewpoint

◦       gravel road and parking area

◦       Can be viewed from car

◦       Interpretive sign can be read from vehicle

•       Charcoal Kilns – Historic site

◦       Can be accessed by car, weather conditions permitting.

◦       Gravel road and parking area

◦       Interpretive sign can be read from vehicle.

◦       Accessible vault toilet.

•       Artist’s Drive – Scenic drive.

◦       Can be viewed from car.

◦       Accessible vault toilet at Artist’s Palette parking.

•       Twenty Mule Team Canyon – Scenic drive

◦       Can be viewed from car

•       Ashford Mill – Historic site

◦       Gravel parking area

◦       Can be viewed from car.

◦       Interpretive sign can be read from vehicle.

◦       Accessible vault toilet.

Denver Botanical Gardens 

Jasonsconnection.org visited Denver Botanical Gardens (York Street) in late September. It is open all year and great for families of all ages. Great dining as well. Worth the visit!

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From The Denver Botanical Gardens website:

  • Most of our indoor and outdoor gardens and facilities, including restrooms and classrooms, are wheelchair accessible.
  • Some areas in the Gardens are not wheelchair accessible without assistance. Please check with the staff in the Bonfils­-Stanton Visitor Center if you need clarification on accessible routes.
  • See map below showing wheelchair and stroller accessible paths in the Gardens.
  • Handicapped parking is located in the Gardens’ parking structure.
  • Wheelchairs and strollers are available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis at the Information Desk in the Boettcher Memorial Center. No reservations are accepted. Leaving a driver’s license or photo ID is required.
  • We do not offer motorized wheelchairs or scooters.
  • No pets allowed at the York Street gardens. Service dogs/animals are permitted.Please do not leave pets in cars – you will be asked to take them home.
    • Due to the sensitive nature of our specimens, service animals are not permitted in our herbaria located in the Boettcher Memorial Center. If you have a service animal and would like to visit the herbaria, call 720-865-3593 to make an appointment. We recommend you bring someone with you who can stay with your service animal while you visit the herbaria.

Parking garage with accessible parking is available but there are parking restrictions:

Parking Restrictions:

  • Vans — Due to height restrictions, vans should park on the top deck of the parking complex.
  • RVs — Due to weight restrictions, RVs are not permitted in the parking complex.

Please consider using these alternate modes of transportation:

  • Lyft: New User Code is GARDENS17 – Any new user who enters the code gets$5 off first three rides. Enter your phone number from your smart phone and download the app with the code pre-loaded.
  • car2go: There are seven dedicated parking spots on the top floor of the York Street parking structure for the smaller smart fortwo cars.
  • B-Cycle: There is a B-­Cycle station next to our York Street entrance.
  • RTD: There is a stop at the Gardens’ York Street entrance.
  • Bicycle Colorado: The Gardens joins Bicycle Colorado in encouraging cycling as a form of transportation. Bike racks are available at the York Street main entrance.
  • 1007 York Street FOR MORE INFO CONTACT: 720-865-3500 General Information

(Parking & Accessibility – Chatfield Farms: Parking is included with admission.)

Accessibility: Not all areas are wheelchair accessible without assistance at Chatfield Farms. Please check with staff in the Earl J. Sinnamon Visitor Center for clarification on accessible routes. Wheelchairs are not available for loan.

Here is a map of Chatfield Farms.

No pets allowed at Chatfield Farms. Service dogs/animals are permitted. Please do not leave pets in cars – you will be asked to take them home.

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