Editor's Note: This is the eleventh post in our ABCs of Accessible Trails series, which details the best accessible trails in State and National Parks across the country. Take a look at our previous posts for more: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, and Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississipi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey
The America the Beautiful Pass, otherwise known as the The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, is a free lifetime pass available to US citizens or permanent residents of the United States that have been medically determined to have a permanent disability. Passes can be obtained via phone, online, or in person at any of these recreation sites.
El Morro National Monument
"Imagine the comfort and refreshment of finding water after days of dusty travel. A reliable waterhole hidden at the base of a sandstone bluff made El Morro (the headland) a popular campsite for hundreds of years. Here, Ancestral Puebloans, Spanish and American travelers carved over 2,000 signatures, dates, messages, and petroglyphs."
At El Morro, there are several opportunities available for people of all abilities! Checkout the wheelchair accessible Inscription Trail which leads to the main pool and past hundreds of Spanish and Anglo inscriptions, as well as pre–historical petroglyphs.
White Sands National Monument
"Rising from the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the world's great natural wonders - the glistening white sands of New Mexico. Great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world's largest gypsum dunefield. White Sands National Monument preserves a major portion of this unique dunefield, along with the plants and animals that live here."
Take a stroll along the Interlude Boardwalk, a 0.4 mile boardwalk that leads to the top a dune! Also, for full moon nights and other special events that take place in the dunes, an accessibility ramp is provided for visitors with wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, and other wheeled devices.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
"High ancient sea ledges, deep rocky canyons, flowering cactus and desert wildlife - treasures above the ground in the Chihuahuan Desert. Hidden beneath the surface are more than 119 caves - formed when sulfuric acid dissolved limestone leaving behind caverns of all sizes."
Enjoy several accessible activities at Carlsbad Caverns including the free Bat Flight, Star Parties, Nature Trails, and the Big Room Cavern!
Niagara Falls State Park
"Niagara Falls State Park stretches over 400 acres, with close to 140 acres of that under water . . . 3,160 tons of water flows over Niagara Falls every second . . . The Niagara River ecosystems support many of New York State's protected animal species, such as the Lake Sturgeon, Peregrine Falcon and American Bald Eagle."
Due to the popularity of Niagara Falls, a focused effort on inclusion and accessibility allows everyone the chance to have an incredible visit! Hiking and biking trails are available for all skill levels, accessible cruises of the Falls are plentiful, and a large variety of other activities (including an aquarium and discovery center) are available to enhance your experience at Niagara Falls.
Fire Island National Seashore
"Rhythmic waves, high dunes, ancient maritime forests, historic landmarks and glimpses of wildlife, Fire Island has been a special place for diverse plants, animals and people for centuries. Far from the pressure of nearby big-city life, dynamic barrier island beaches offer both solitude and camaraderie, and spiritual renewal."
Several trail sections throughout the park are wheelchair accessible, and as section of boardwalk are replaced they are built to ADA standards.
Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks
"The variety of trails looping across the rugged landscape, draped upon the Highlands, is a major part of the appeal of Harriman-Bear Mountain State Parks. Covering nearly 52,000 acres, this network of practically infinite trail combinations is unmatched in the area surrounding metropolitan New York. "
Within this park is the Bear Mountain Summit Loop, a newly completed (as of June 2011) section of the Appalachian Trail! Sections of this trail are paved and fully wheelchair accessible.
Cape Hatteras National Seashore
"The sound of ocean waves, the starry night sky, or the calm of the salt marshes, you can experience it all. Shaped by the forces of water, wind, and storms these islands are ever changing. The plants, wildlife, and people who live here adapt continually. Whether you are enjoying the beach, kayaking the sound, or climbing the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse there is something for everyone to explore!"
Cape Hatteras is making a strong effort to make the beach accessible to all their visitors! They offer several ramps that allow individuals with mobility challenges to easily get down to the seashore.
Cape Lookout National Seashore
"A boat ride three miles off-shore brings you to the barrier islands of Cape Lookout National Seashore. Horse watching, shelling, fishing, birding, camping . . . and touring historic villages--there’s something for everyone at Cape Lookout. "
With various ferries, boardwalks, and sandy, flat trails, your are sure to find plenty of things explore! Maybe you'll even catch glimpses of wild horses! You can also enjoy camping, fishing, hunting, kayaking, and more!
Blue Ridge Parkway
"A Blue Ridge Parkway experience is unlike any other: a slow-paced and relaxing drive revealing stunning long-range vistas and close-up views of the rugged mountains and pastoral landscapes of the Appalachian Highlands. The Parkway meanders for 469 miles, protecting a diversity of plants and animals, and providing opportunities for enjoying all that makes this region of the country so special."
Several new trails at the Peaks of Otter and at Julian Price Lake are ADA accessible, and more on in the works! Also, fishing piers at Otter Lake and Price Lake are accessible. Click here for a list of accessible features.