Because of the ruggedness of these parks, there isn’t a whole lot of handicap access, which in my opinion is a good thing. I personally don’t want everything to be accessible because that takes away from the naturalness that our national parks we set aside for.
With that said, I didn’t spend a lot of time in Yellowstone because I wanted to avoid the large crowds of visitors as well as some issues with my electric scooter that wouldn’t allow me to get onto any trails, no matter how accessible they were. I did make a visit to Old Faithful and the many geysers and other hydrothermal wonders in the area. There wasn’t an area at the entire complex in which I found to be inaccessible for myself on a scooter, anyone in a wheelchair or on crutches. An individual on crutches may have difficulty walking around on the boardwalk if they don’t have the energy though. It’s a very long walk throughout the maze of boardwalk. I did find it a bit rough on the scooter also just with the constant bouncing with every board.
The majority of my trip was spent in Grand Teton National Park. We camped in Colter Bay Campground which is part of the Colter Bay Village. This campground isn’t the most accessible but if you are somewhat adaptable, it’ll do. They do have a few sites with electric but the majority are without. They also have RV camp sites, canvas style cabins and wooden cabins that all seem somewhat accessible at least to get into and move around. They all have public restrooms short walks from each site. There are also laundry facilities and shower facilities available in the Colter Bay Village.
There are also trails in the area of the Colter Village that are accessible with great views. Unfortunately, due to my scooter issues, I wasn’t able to enjoy those trails myself or get pictures. Other trails in Teton National Park may be be accessible, at least for an electric scooter or a skilled person with a wheelchair or crutches. All of the roads in the area offer opportunities to view the wildlife and natural beauty very easily. I imagine the trails to be even more personal. But please, always remember that the animals in the park are wild animals and can do great harm to anyone so don’t try to get close.
We also visited two area restaurants and lodges. The first place we visited the night we got there was the Signal Mountain Lodge which is at the edge of Jackson Lake. It has great food with two levels of food service and is very accessible. Very near this lodge is a hill called Signal Mountain and gives a great view of the area. The other lodge we went to was the Jackson Lake Lodge which is a much larger complex of activities. This lodge has three different restaurant options from a grill to high end dining with great views of the Teton Mountain range. The entire complex was accessible with elevators to get to the second level.
While at the Colter Village, we ran into a park ranger who told us about a river rafting trip that is offered through the Jackson Lake Lodge. We met with Bill Guheen who manages the raft trips through the Grand Teton Lodge Company. He informed us that we I would easily be able to go on the raft trip. For myself, I’m able to easily transfer myself into the boat on my own but he had said that he has boats that can take wheelchairs. The biggest limitation they have is the size of a chair. If it’s too heavy and difficult to carry, they may not be able to accommodate, but they will ALWAYS do everything they can to allow any disabled person the opportunity to experience the rafting trip. He also added that there wasn’t another rafting company in the area that was willing or able to work with disabled individuals.
Our rafting guide, Mike, was extremely knowledgeable having grown up in the Tetons and had been rafting since he was young. When I say knowledgeable, he knows a lot about the history of how the park was developed, it’s history and all of the politics behind the park system from the beginning the Theodore Roosevelt to today. You can contact Bill by calling 307-543-2811, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or see their website at www.gtlc.com. They are VERY highly recommended.
You can’t go wrong with visiting the Grand Tetons and since Yellowstone isn’t that far away, visit there as well. Breathe in the fresh mountain air and enjoy viewing the animals from afar and the spectacular scenery.
Are any of the tours at yellowstone wheelchair accessible? Specifically the sunset tour bus?