Improving Accessibility at National Parks

6.17.2020
Curated by
Whitney Bailey
Content via In The News
Source: 
In The News
Curated by
Whitney Bailey

“National parks offer a respite from the frenzy of daily life and an opportunity to connect with nature, history, and culture through our sense of adventure,” states NationalParks.org. The National Parks Foundation is partnering with the National Park Service to ensure everyone can experience national parks.

The National Parks Foundation is working to make sure that all parks are accessible to people of varying disabilities. One of the ways they are accomplishing this new accessibility is by supporting renovations at places like visitor centers, exhibits, parking lots, trails, restrooms, and more.

photo of landscape at harper's ferry national park

“Accessibility improvements might include modifications to the incline, width, and grade of trails; adjustments to the height and placement of signs and exhibits; installation of ramps and guard rails; or the creation of new maps and informational materials so that people can better plan for their adventure.”

Here are two examples of accessibility improvements in national parks:

Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park

view of body of water from harpers ferry national historical park

One of the most visited locations in Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park is a vantage point at the top of the peninsula called “The Point.” “From here, visitors have the perfect view of the spot at which the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers converge and flow through the gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Visitors to The Point can view three states – Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia – at the same time,” describes the National Park Foundation. The National Park Foundation is helping the National Park Service construct an accessible route to The Point, so everyone can witness the beauty of the location. 

“An ADA-accessible walkway will be installed, creating a safe, multi-use, and sustainable access path to the highly popular viewpoint. There will also be new and informative waysides along the path that convey The Point’s significance as a geographical and cultural landmark and natural resource,” says the National Park Foundation.

Devils Tower National Monument

view from the devils tower trail

The Devils Tower National Monument was established as the country’s first national monument in 1906. When it first became established it had about 20,000 visitors each year. That number has since increased to 50,000. The increase in visitation has called for an update in the park’s infrastructure. Amongst the updates are accessibility improvements to areas of the park where visitors spend 98% of their time. 

The National Parks Foundation states, “With the help of NPF, the site is collaborating with the National Center on Accessibility to undertake accessibility improvements at its most popular areas, where visitors typically spend up to 98% of their time. This includes the visitor center, the highly traversed Tower Trail, and the climber registration building. The project will create an accessible pathway to the Tower Trail, install interpretive waysides along the trail, make improvements to exhibits in the visitor center, and make upgrades to parking lots, restrooms, and bus drop-off and loading areas. The site will also install a new interpretive plaza equipped with a shade structure.”

Here’s to making national parks more accessible!

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