10 Gorgeous Wheelchair-Friendly Hikes to Try

If you use a wheelchair or are traveling with someone who does, add these stunning (and accessible) trails to your bucket list.

November 25, 2019

Photo By: New Mexico TRUE

Photo By: NPS Photo by Cadence C. Cook

Photo By: National Park Service

Photo By: National Park Service

Photo By: Great Sand Dunes National Park

Photo By: New Hampshire State Parks

Photo By: National Park Service

Photo By: Visit Southern Idaho

Photo By: Everglades National Park

Photo By: Kevin Key, Courtesy VisitRedwoods.com

Malpais Nature Trail, Valley of Fires Recreation Area, New Mexico

If you use a wheelchair or are traveling with someone who uses one, you know it can be tricky to find accessible trails where you won’t have to turn around sooner than expected. These flat, paved and boardwalk hikes all offer spectacular views that anyone can reach, whether they’re using a wheelchair, walker, stroller or crutches. At Valley of Fires Recreation Area in New Mexico, for example, the paved and fully-accessible Malpais Nature Trail winds through a lava flow that covered the valley 5,000 years ago. There are two accessible campsites there and an accessible bathroom with showers.

Pa'rus Trail, Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park’s 1.5-mile Pa’rus trail is wide and entirely paved for accessibility. The trail offers sweeping vistas of rock formations and seasonal wildflowers, and also runs alongside the scenic Virgin River. The park’s website offers detailed information about accessibility on this trail and others that are wheelchair-friendly, as well as accessible campsites within the park.

Interdune Boardwalk, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

New Mexico’s iconic dune field is otherworldly because the fine, white gypsum sand is so pristine. Come here to watch the sand and sky blend together at sunset as everything turns gold before bursting into shades of pink and purple. The Interdune Boardwalk is a .4-mile boardwalk trail that goes directly into the dunes.

Ha’akulamanu Trail, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

At Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, you can take a boardwalk through a field spewing steam and volcanic gases. The Ha’akulamanu trail, also known as the Sulphur Banks Trail, is about 1.2 miles roundtrip. The end of the trail is not fully wheelchair-accessible (you can read more about accessibility throughout the park here), so if you’re using a wheelchair you should approach it from the Steam Vents parking lot so you can access the largest portion of the trail.

Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Colorado’s most unique national park has two special wheelchairs made for the sand — one for adults and one for kids. They have large inflatable tires that makes it possible to push someone across the sand in places where a regular wheelchair wouldn’t be able to go. You can reserve a wheelchair in advance — they’re free to borrow — by calling the park. Great Sand Dunes also has accessible campsites.

Bridge on Ashuelot Rail Trail, New Hampshire

The Ashuelot Rail Trail follows the Ashuelot River for more than 21 miles, running through small towns, under covered bridges and past abandoned mills. The trail starts in Keene, New Hampshire, and ends in Winchester. Most of the trail is paved and wheelchair- and bike-accessible, but conditions are best north of where a pedestrian bridge crosses highway NH 12/101.

Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Take a stroll around one of the National Park Service’s crown jewels, Grand Prismatic Spring, on the boardwalk at Midway Geyser Basin. This fully-accessible .8-mile trail winds around scalding, otherworldly orange and turquoise hot springs spewing steam so profusely it can temporarily cloud your vision if you’re standing in the right spot. Yellowstone National Park offers a comprehensive guide on its website to accessibility features throughout the park, so you can also find less crowded, hidden gems in its further reaches away from the main tourist tracks.

Snake River Canyon Rim Trail, Twin Falls, Idaho

This 12-mile paved trail in Twin Falls, Idaho, runs alongside Snake River Canyon. It offers stunning views of the river and Perinne-Coulee Falls and Shoshone Falls. Consider bringing binoculars for a closer look at Perinne Bridge, where you might be able to spot BASE jumpers on a good day.

Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park, Florida

The .8-mile roundtrip Anhinga Trail winds through a sawgrass marsh in Everglades National Park. Keep your eyes peeled: You’re likely to see turtles and quite a few species of birds, including anhingas, egrets and herons. You might even spot an alligator.

Humboldt Redwoods State Park, California

There are many wheelchair-accessible boardwalk trails in California’s redwood groves, including in Muir Woods National Monument, Redwoods National and State Parks and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Giant Tree, pictured here, is a 354-foot tall redwood in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, accessed via the .16-mile Big Tree Trail. Take note that a seasonal footbridge is only installed during summer months. In winter, this viewpoint may not be wheelchair-accessible.

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