The Perfect Wheelchair Accessible Campsite
The ADA hasn’t set any guidelines for accessible campsites however it has been proposed so hopefully this is something we will see in the future. The National Center on Accessibility at Indiana University has a good article with some of the proposals.
Many older campgrounds have been updated to provide a few accessible campsites by enlarging and renovating existing sites. As with any renovation of an existing facility the results are not always ideal and sometimes they are downright pathetic. Smaller, older campgrounds often do nothing other than attach a wheelchair sign to the numbered post of the campsite that is located closest to the restroom. The site may be small ,not level with an unsuitable ground surface and no easy path to the restroom. The tables rarely have any type of overhang on the ends to allow a person in a wheelchair room to pull up underneath.
However, the good news is that many campgrounds are building excellent accessible sites especially if the campground has undergone a complete renovation. The renovation usually includes the bathroom and shower facilities and since the guidelines for both of these have been precisely detailed, the new bathhouses are completely ADA compliant. The design of the campsite itself can vary greatly. At a minimum the site should be level and smooth with enough room to park and then deploy a wheelchair lift. The table should have a long overhang on one end. The fire pit, if one is provided, should have high sides.
Most of the campgrounds where we stay are public – national forest and parks or state, county and city parks. National forests campgrounds usually have primitive sites which means limited accessibility, no electric hookups, water from a communal faucet (most likely well water), and almost always an accessible vault toilet but no showers. National parks are similar but the sites may be larger with accessible tables and an accessible restroom with flush toilets but still no shower facilities. State, county and city parks range from very primitive to almost luxury resort accommodations. The best have concrete paving for the parking pad which extends under an accessible picnic table. The electric, water and sewer hookup area is also paved and easily reached. The fire pit has high sides. The barbeque grill is at an easily used height. The restrooms have a paved path to the entrance door which is easy to open. The restroom has a separate large accessible toilet room with it’s own sink. The accessible roll in shower has a large changing area. The shower stall has a fold down seat and an adjustable shower head.
Some of the best accessible campsites that we’ve discovered are:
Lake Louisa State Park, Florida - almost perfect with a large level site , raised grill ,accessible table, paving around the water and electrical hookups, close the completely accessible restroom and showers. The only thing that keeps it from being prefect is the sewer which is placed at ground level in the grass.
Moss Park Campground, Florida – almost perfect with a large level site ,raised grill ,high sides on the fire pit ,paving around the water and electrical hookups and a paved path to the accessible restroom and showers. This campsite has a dump station that has a large paved apron and could be used by a person in a wheelchair. The restroom doors are a little heavy and the shower doesn’t have a fold down seat.
Palo Duro Canyon State Park,Texas – may be perfect but I’d didn’t check the restrooms or the dump station. The accessible sites, which have been built recently, are large and level with an accessible picnic table, grill, fire pit and hookups.
We RV camp only but there are a few campgrounds that have raised platforms to make transferring into a tent easy, however, finding them involves a lot of searching. If you want to try tent camping, Eureka makes an accessible tent that is easy to set up at any campsite. It has a large, high entrance and a vestibule for wheelchair storage.
Read more about the accessibility of the campgrounds that we have visited over the last year at Rolling in a RV.