Editor's Note: This is the fifthteenth 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, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma,, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee
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.
Big Bend National Park
"There is a place in Far West Texas where night skies are dark as coal and rivers carve temple-like canyons in ancient limestone. Here, at the end of the road, hundreds of bird species take refuge in a solitary mountain range surrounded by weather-beaten desert. Tenacious cactus bloom in sublime southwestern sun, and diversity of species is the best in the country. This magical place is Big Bend."
Big Bend National Park features several accessible activities throughout the park including campgrounds, nature walks, boardwalk trails, and more!
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
"Guadalupe Mountains National Park is the world's premier example of a fossil reef from the Permian Era. The park is known for its extensive hiking and backpacking opportunities in one of the nation's most pristine wilderness areas. Birding, history, and many other opportunities to learn and have fun await visitors in this hidden gem of West Texas."
In addition to their accessible visitor centers, Guadalupe Mountains National Park has two designated accessible trails. They lead you through historical ruins and natural desert landscapes.
Big Thicket National Preserve
"Life of all types abounds in the Big Thicket. This national preserve protects the incredible diversity of life found where multiple habitats converge in southeast Texas. Hiking trails and waterways meander through nine different ecosystems, from longleaf pine forests to cypress-lined bayous. It is a place of discovery, a place to wander and explore, a place to marvel at the richness of nature."
The accessible trails in Big Thicket National Preserve allow you to wind through a mixed woodland where you can view unique flora and fauna, including carnivorous plant species!
Arches National Park
"Visit Arches and discover a landscape of contrasting colors, landforms and textures unlike any other in the world. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks. This red rock wonderland will amaze you with its formations, refresh you with its trails, and inspire you with its sunsets."
Several accessible viewpoints, trail sections, and campgrounds throughout Arches National Park allow visitors of all abilities to have a memorable experience.
Bryce Canyon National Park
"There is no place like Bryce Canyon. Hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) can be found on every continent, but here is the largest collection of hoodoos in the world! Descriptions fail. Photographs do not do it justice. Bring your sense of wonder and imagination when visiting Bryce Canyon National Park."
Bryce Canyon National Park provides many accessible options for park visitors. In addition to ranger programs, nature trails, viewpoints, and camping, If you have good core balance and some upper leg muscle control, the two-hour horseback ride below the rim is a great way to see the rock formations.
Zion National Park
"Follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures."
Zion National Park's free shuttle bus system is fully accessible. You can ride it end to end for a scenic 45-minute drive, or you can be dropped off at one of many stops to explore a little and enjoy the sights. Several campsites are reserved for people with disabilities, and the paved Pa’rus Trail (3.5 miles) and Riverside Walk (2.2 miles) offer accessible hikes.
Stowe Recreation Path
"The Stowe Recreation Path meanders along West Branch River, past beautiful farms and through some wooded sections. The trail crosses the creek at 10 different places along the route. There are benches and picnic areas along the way, as well as access to some local businesses. At several points, there are places for wading in the river during the summer months."
At 5.3 miles in length, the Stowe Recreation Trail provides a wide variety of accessible trail opportunities for visitors all year round. There is even a free winter shuttle bus available for a 1-way trips if needed!
Island Line Rail Trail
"One of New England's most visited and spectacular rail-trails, the Island Line Trail . . . skirts the waterfront . . ., strings together a series of shoreline parks and offers spectacular views of Lake Champlain and New York's Adirondack Mountains. Best of all, the relatively flat trail features a unique and scenic trip out over the lake on a marble causeway."
At 14 miles in length, the Island line Rail Trail offers a variety of scenic views, as well as seasonal amenities along your journey such as snack bars and bike ferries.
Toonerville Rail Trail
"The Toonerville Rail-Trail (a.k.a. Springfield Greenway) spans 3 meticulously maintained miles from the downtown business district of Springfield southeast to the western bank of the Connecticut River at the Vermont–New Hampshire border."
Along the 3.1 mile Toonerville Rail Trail, you'll find opportunities for fishing, swimming, and canoeing.