Most parks offer some kind of accessibility to handicapped individuals. You will find handicapped parking and wheelchair ramps at almost every Ranger Station - and at most day areas too.
Unfortunately, campgrounds seem to be left out at almost every park. Most of the campground restores are accessible to people in wheelchairs but there are few camping areas that provide specific campsites for the handicapped.
The people providing the facilities don't seem to realize that there are plenty of handicapped individuals out there who do not require a wheelchair. A person confined to a wheelchair might not find a 300 foot trip to the bathroom distressing - but somebody who travels on foot and has limited mobility would find this a terrible trek. There are also many people in wheelchairs that have difficulty getting around - even in a wheelchair. Most parks simply make no effort to accommodate these people.
It is nice that the forest or park employees make such an effort to keep the Ranger Station accessible to the handicapped. It does seem kind of silly to put such an effort into providing access to a facility that will be of interest to a limited number of people - you don't have to go to the Ranger Station to get park information!
The camping areas are where handicapped individuals could really benefit. This is where people will probably spend the most time during their visit.
While employed with the U.S. Forest Service, I met with the 'Handicapped Committee' on a few occasions. This group would discuss handicap issues and park accessibility. The woman in charge of the meeting listed dozens of recreation areas and said that her group had been responsible for adding wheelchair ramps to bathrooms at every one of these facilities.I was quite impressed at the time - but now I wonder if this committee ever considered the needs of the non wheelchair bound individuals. This forest still has no handicapped campsites.
I realize that our National Parks and Forests are financially lacking right now. Making a camp site for the handicapped would not be much of a strain on the budget. A template to make the handicapped symbol in the site's parking space and a can of blue spray paint could be all your park needs if the rest rooms are already handicap accessible. If the parking spurs are not paved - a simple blue and white handicapped sticker would mark the site quite well.
Some parks might be concerned that these sites would go empty. I don't think this would be a problem. Take a look at license plates the next time you drive through a larger camp area and you will see plenty of people who could make use of these spaces if only they were available! I am not handicapped (athsma doesn't count - at least in my case!) but my youngest son is. At this time, mobility is not a problem as he is very short statured and I can carry him anyplace. As he grows, my family may find a need fora special site reasonably close to the facilities. I would like to see the forests and parks accessible to everyone!
If you think that this could be a great addition to our parks and forests, please contact the guy pictured below. Just click on him to send a message!