There are plenty of people that enjoy camping. However, there are certain groups of people that find it difficult to enjoy the great outdoors through camping because their disability makes the campsites inaccessible. This is where ADA camping comes in. So, what is ADA camping? What can I expect from it? And, are there a couple of good examples?
In this article, you will learn the answers to these questions and more.
What is ADA Camping?
To make the definition as simple as possible, we will start with the very basics. Camping is all about staying and enjoying the great outdoors. Unfortunately, certain campsites are not accessible to people with disabilities.
ADA camping is all about making the campsite and its amenities available to people with disabilities, especially for the ones in a wheelchair. In other words, this type of camping is all about enjoying camping, even if you’re physically-challenged.
Keep in mind that the ADA doesn’t have a set of guidelines for ADA-compliant campsites. Thankfully, there’s already a proposal in the works so hopefully, it will be implemented soon.
For many older campgrounds, most of them are already updated, and they provide ADA accessible features. Most have either renovated the existing site or expanded to make the place ADA-accessible.
When possible, it’s highly advisable that you opt for a campsite that has expanded for ADA compliance so you may need to plan your camping trip way in advance. The reason for this is because renovated sites will sometimes provide ADA-accessible features that are not ideal, and sometimes even pathetic.
In fact, some of these smaller campsites just add a wheelchair sign to the campground that’s nearest to the restroom. Even in this case, the path towards the restroom may not be suitable so you will have to find a way to poop while camping somewhere else. Furthermore, it’s not uncommon to find tables that don’t feature overhand in the end to allow someone in a wheelchair to pull himself or herself up.
On the upside, there are campsites that have really done well when it comes to making the place conducive for ADA camping. If you know where to camp this way, it’s common to see concrete paving from the parking lot to the picnic tables. The sewer, electric, and water hook-ups are also paved and easily accessed.
You’ll even find camping bucket lights and fire pits with high sides. It’s also common to find barbeque grills that are at the right height. And, you’ll find the way to the restrooms is paved up to the entrance door, which is also easy to operate.
Most of the time, there’ll be a separate toilet that’s large enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and it even comes with a sink. The showers are large enough for changing, and the shower stalls will often feature a showerhead you can adjust and a fold-down seat.
Best ADA Campsites
While most public and private campgrounds are still in the process of upgrading their ADA features, there are already plenty of campsites that have done a really good job at it.
Below are only some of the notable ones:
Simax Group Camp in Deschutes, Oregon
The Simax Group Camp is located in Deschutes National Forest. It features a camping area that’s fully accessible for physically-challenged people. You’ll find clean drinking water and flushing toilets so you won’t have to build a portable toilet for camping or anything similar. The bathrooms are large, and the waters are pressurized.
There are spurs and paved roads that connect from the beaches and most areas to the campgrounds and group sites. The scenery is nothing short of breathtaking. Visitors can rest on the lake shores with the majestic mountains as a backdrop. The campgrounds also offer plenty of activities like fishing, riding the waters, and scenic hiking trails.
Simax Group Camp offers one large pavilion and four sites. Typically, you’ll be able to use the grounds from May up to September. Furthermore, mobile data coverage is excellent. Keep in mind that Simax Group Camp is a national park. Hence, it honors the National Parks Service Access Pass.
While the campground is dog-friendly, there are certain areas that are off-limits to your canine companion. You can know more about this subject and others from the official website.
Hillsborough River State Park in Thonotosassa, Florida
While you can’t consider the Hillsborough River State Park as big, it more than makes up for it by providing top-of-the-line features and amenities. The camp offers around 112 campsites, and there’s plenty of sites that host Coleman tents and RV camping where you can connect RV pipes to water sources and get hooked up to electricity.
With an adaptive bicycle, it’s easy to enjoy the many bike trails it offers. The notables are the 1.6-mile Wetland Restoration Nature trail and the 2.2-mile Park Loop. Both trails provide wonderful Florida scenery views.
It could be said that the best feature of Hillsborough River State Park is the ADA-accessible saltwater pool. The pool is about half an acre in size and plenty of deck space to roam. If you want to take a dip, there’s a ramp that directly leads to the water. The areas near the shore are shallow, but the center is deep.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs, California
While deserts may be barren, they offer an immense serene beauty. There’s something peaceful with crystal clear skies adorned with dotted white clouds with a vast landscape. It’s easy to rest the soul when feeling that sand on your feet and warm air.
The sound of peacefulness completed with the audibles of rivers. You can enjoy these and a lot more at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. With 600,000 acres, this park is big. Most importantly, the grounds include campsites that are ADA-accessible. The design is excellent in that it’s easy to maneuver from the campgrounds to the restrooms.
The Tamarisk Grove and Borrego Palm Canyon Campground comes with three grounds that have a pathway to the restroom, and the spaces are large enough for wheelchairs to move around. There are two ADA-accessible sites for Bon Willow Campground. The restrooms are accessible, and it even features a horse-mounting ramp if you’re feeling adventurous.
Near the visitor center is the All-Access Trail. It connects to Borrego Palm Campgrounds with Braille descriptions seeded along the way. The Culp Valley Trail leads to the Borrego Valley overlook, and the trail is made from compact gravel and soil. The overlook is an excellent spot for scenic views and breathing some fresh air. Or if you have trouble breathing and you need to power a CPAP machine to use it, make sure there’s a place for that too.
ADA camping is all about welcoming everyone for outdoor enjoyment, even if you’re a person with a disability. On the upside, more and more campsites are upgrading to make the site more ADA-compliant. On the downside, it’s a slow process, and not every campsite out there is ADA-compliant.
Thankfully, there are already plenty of campsites that are very friendly to people with disabilities and the three mentioned above are just a few of them.