Two years ago, when my friends asked me to go with them to Yellowstone National Park, I pictured a very high mountain and a rocky path leading to the summit where my friends would have to carry me up… fearing of becoming their heavy burden I declined their kind offer.
But this past September, I was almost forced to go under pressure from my family. The trip was on my Mom’s bucket list. In preparation, I dropped 10 lbs. to hopefully lighten their load. Surprisingly, it turned out Yellowstone National Park is one of the most accessible places that I have ever visited.
We spent five days exploring Yellowstone and Teton National Park (connected to each other). We saw all types of geographic wonders: geysers, canyons, waterfalls, hot springs, lakes, snowy mountains and of course, mega volcanoes lurking beneath us. We also saw bison, deer, goats, giant crows, and best of all “Yogi and Boo Boo.” We were told that if we were to get in before 7:00 a.m., we could see thousands of animals coming out for breakfast.
There are information and visitor centres near all five gates as well as inside the park. You can get an Accessibility Guide mapping out every accessible trail and bathroom. All of the iconic attractions have wheelchair ramps and accessible paths paved around them. I was left behind twice when I couldn’t physically make it, but was told between the heavy exhalations of other people that it was not worth it. A few places were not paved, but they were relatively smooth.
Strangers were eager to help when I really needed it. I would say that people who use power wheelchairs might have a more quality experience compared to those who use manual wheelchairs. It did require a lot of energy and endurance to push. Thankfully I had a big wheel in front to elevate my casters. If you are like me and use a manual wheelchair, be sure to bring all of your assistive devices, a nice pair of gloves and maybe be willing to temporarily surrender your pride by asking others to push you.
This vacation turned out to be one of the most affordable as well. The ticket to the park cost us $35 per week/per vehicle. We spent around $500+/person on plane tickets during low-season. You can decide how much you want to spend on your accommodation and rental vehicles. You can save by booking your stay via Airbnb, though their location might not be the most ideal.
I really encourage you to go and you will be amazed and humbled by nature’s craftsmanship. Don’t worry about a possible volcano explosion; any local will tell you that they’d rather stay exactly where they are than have to survive a volcanic winter elsewhere in North America.
The parks are huge and there are many hidden gems. I have a detailed travel plan and many more tips to share. Please get in touch with me for information at [email protected] or drop in the Resource Centre at Toronto Rehab – Lyndhurst Centre.