A new free-to-borrow wheelchair gives visitors access to hiking trails at US national parks
Posted on 13/08/2019
SocietyUnited States of America
Amazing news for travelers and adventurers who need hiking assistance! A first-of-its-kind wheelchair is now available to borrow for free at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park in the United States, as well as in a few state parks.
The track chair program began in May 2019
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is the first American nationalpPark to offer a unique all-terrain wheelchair that gives travelers with disabilities the opportunity to experience hiking just like anybody else. The chair was designed to provide less pressure on the ground that an average footstep, in order to protect the Park's flora and fauna while enabling all visitors to enjoy the wonderful nature of Sleeping Bear Dunes!
The nonprofit organization Friends of the Sleeping Bear Dunes started the wheelchair program last May. Visitors who need assistance have since been able to borrow the all-terrain chair for free to enjoy previously inaccessible trails of the national park. "You can see things from the road but it's so different to be able to have that quiet time in the woods and to find a bit of a break from the everyday," Esch, a volunteer and wheelchair user declared to Travel + Leisure.
Interested visitors can reserve the chair from May to October on the official website of Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes. The reservation has to be made at least three days in advance and visitors will be welcomed by a host who will help them get comfortable and familiarize themselves with the chair before they explore the outdoors. Hopefully, this initiative will inspire other national parks to develop similar accessibility programs.