The line between handicap accessible and unspoiled and natural has been a difficult one for wild lands to walk. In order for parks to get enough visitors to keep their infrastructure well-maintained, they must be able to cater to people with special needs like wheelchairs, as well as parents with strollers. Yet, to keep the park as wild as possible, it must stay mostly unchanged by humans. The solution is never easy, and often requires a number of compromises. Here are some of the ways that parks have found to balance unspoiled and user-friendly:
This is one of the easiest ways to allow sightseers the chance to watch beautiful vistas without needing to do an uphill climb of several hours. Viewpoints maximize the amount of area that can be seen, while minimizing the amount of paved region to see it. Guests can look over miles of natural areas without needing miles of pavement.
Boardwalks and Loop Trails
Items of special interest, like Old Faithful, need a closer look to do them justice, and yet the area around them is delicate and rough. The answer that has been used is to create a protective boardwalk around the hot pool area. This allows close viewing of this curious landmark without the destructive influence of tens of thousands of feet each year. Boardwalks that are elevated above a delicate terrain often provide shade for wildlife, and may create a chance to see some extra viewing opportunities, as well.
For areas that are too remote to pave the way, another great way to experience nature far off the beaten path with the physically challenged is to work with off-road vehicles. UTV rides, basically 4WD golf carts with attitude, are a great way to see the more extreme regions that are not accessible by mini van. Since the seats are similar to that of a car, those who are limited to wheelchair access are no longer as limited. Tour companies can work with UTV upgrade companies like Side by Side Stuff and get exactly what they need to keep customers with physical limitations comfortable and safe while exploring old logging trails or other locales that are off the beaten path.
The balance between access and natural land has always been a difficult one. When it comes to access for disabled clients, it becomes even more complicated. Offering the chance to see nature at its wildest without taming it is not easy. However, clever solutions can at least allow nature and the public to meet halfway.