When you think of the national parks, you typically envision hiking through the woods, laughing around a campfire, swimming in a lake, and other iconic activities. But for people with disabilities, there’s much more to think about.
However, having a disability doesn't have to hold you back from enjoying the national parks. Many parks offer programs designed for people with disabilities and other wheel accessible activities and amenities. So before you experience the great outdoors, it's best to plan your trip by checking out these helpful tips.
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Getting Into the Parks
If you are disabled, you may have access to a free national parks entry pass. The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass is a lifetime pass offered to those who are permanently disabled. If you are partially-disabled, however, you may not qualify. In order to receive your pass, the disability must be permanent and limit one or more major life activities.
In order to apply for the pass, you will be asked to provide proof of permanent disability with one of the following:
- A statement by a licensed physician.
- A document issued by a Federal agency, like the Veteran's Administration, Social Security Disability Income, or Supplemental Security Income; or a document issued by a State agency, like a vocational rehabilitation agency.
An Access Pass must be obtained in person from a participating Federal recreation site or office. Examples include the following:
- Bureau of Land Management
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Fish & Wildlife Service
- USDA Forest Service
- National Park Service
It... is also important to note that the Annual Pass is available for children who are disabled as well. Once obtained, it gives free entrance to the child, as well as the accompanying guardian.
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Before You Go
Before any trip, make sure you’ve done your research. Here are a few helpful tips to remember before traveling:
Contact the park you wish to visit directly and speak with a ranger. They will be able to answer all of your questions and give you a better idea of what is available.
Have a backup plan. It's not always possible to secure a reservation for some campsites so be sure to bring along information for nearby hotels that are handicap accessible.
Don’t try to do much. All visitors have a tendency to try and squeeze too many activities in a short amount of time. Be honest with how much time you have and how much extra time you may need.
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Intermountain RegionContinue to 5 of 11 below.
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Intermountain RegionContinue to 9 of 11 below.
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There’s a lot to do in the parks and the National Park Service is consistently working to make the parks more accessible for you and your family. Check out the following articles that may help you plan your next trip!