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Inclusive travel destinations for people with disabilities

Sacramento Bee - 8/31/2022

Outdoor recreation has numerous benefits for one’s life, including opportunities to reconnect with nature, enjoy the benefits of being in direct sunshine and get some exercise are all ways proven to boost one’s mood and improve one’s quality of life. For travelers with disabilities, however, access to the great outdoors can be complicated by conditions that require a multitude of support devices. Facilitators like mobility aids, oxygen tanks and other technological devices that support people with disabilities and chronic illnesses are often not the easiest to transport efficiently. Some destinations, however, have put structures in place to cater to the needs of the disabled community in spite of the challenges that result when planning for accessible outdoor spaces.

Beach: Ludington, Michigan

For those who like to escape to the Great Lakes, Michigan’s Ludington State Park offers a number of accessible amenities for family members with limited mobility. The park offers rentals for track chairs, which can take on snow, the topography of an outdoor trail and even up to four inches of water. The park also prioritizes creating access to parts of the park that are not accessible for traditional wheelchairs.

Winter: Park City, Utah

Home to the National Ability Center, Park City, Utah, is an ideal destination for families that want to enjoy a fun array of winter sports, but might have additional support needs. Partnered with the Park City Mountain Resort, the center offers specialized equipment for people with special needs. Additionally, techniques to navigate these activities are provided by well-trained instructors whose experience spans working with folks with autism, Down syndrome, brain injuries, limb amputations, quadriplegia and cerebral palsy.

Wilderness: Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont

With a focus on building self-confidence and fostering social connections, the Smuggler’s Notch Adaptive Programs curriculum offers a variety of nature-based activities to foster therapeutic outdoor recreation for people with disabilities. The program has accessible options for people of all ages to get outdoors, including hiking, kayaking, water slides, arts and crafts, mini golf and more. This curriculum is specifically curated to fit the needs of children with disabilities.

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