Ensuring an Accessible Camping Experience — 3 Helpful Tips for Wheelchair Users

Guest Author: Jennifer Dee

Published on: May 2nd, 2023

Ensuring an Accessible Camping Experience — 3 Helpful Tips for Wheelchair Users

An estimated 1.3 billion people — or 16% of the global population — experience a significant disability today, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

For those who experience a disability, accessibility is often essential in a variety of day-to-day aspects, and many with a mobility issue may feel activities like camping to be overly stressful. For wheelchair users who are planning a camping trip, ensuring that accessibility is at the forefront of the planning doesn’t have to be difficult.

From the shelter options to planning out the details — as well as the value in planning things well in advance, here are just a few tips that will ensure you’re well prepared for a great trip.

What Makes An Accessible Campground?

For wheelchair users who have never been camping, it’s important to understand what accessible features may be available at a campground so that you know what to look for when planning your trip. To be accessible for wheelchair users, a campground must have the essentials of wheelchair access that are typically found in accessible outdoor areas. This includes clear and predictable walking paths with wide pathways and good lighting, while ramps, accessible parking spaces, and maintained ground level are additional aspects of a wheelchair friendly outdoor space.

According to one post from wheelchairtraveling.com, the best campgrounds in terms of accessibility will have a variety of features. Concrete paving for the parking pad (which extends under an accessible picnic table), a paved electric/water/sewer hookup area, fire pits with high sides, a barbeque grill at an accessible height, and a paved path to the entrance of the restroom are just a few of many detailed by the post. When it comes to bathrooms, good accessible campgrounds are described as having a separate large accessible toilet room with its own sink, a roll-in shower with a large changing area, and a shower stall with a fold down seat and an adjustable shower head, according to the post.

From Tents to Accessories

Crua Tri in a sandy, desert stye backdrop

For those who experience a disability, sleeping on the floor of a tent can easily make for an uncomfortable situation that’s difficult to navigate, particularly for those who have mobility issues or who experience pain. While wheelchair accessible RVs do exist, those who wish to have a more traditional camping experience don’t have to rule out using a tent. A raised cot and padded bedding, for instance, can make for a more comfortable sleeping arrangement, though considering other accessible alternatives can make for an even better overall experience. For instance, while a small tent can leave wheelchair users at a loss when it comes to storing and keeping their chair safe (and out of the rain), larger tents will ensure that there’s plenty of room for storing all of the necessities. 

Two campers sitting in the Crua Cottage

The Crua Cottage tent is just one great idea for those who are camping with others and who need extra space for mobility equipment. The Crua Cottage is able to fit four to six people, and features two separate large insulated bedrooms as well as a large living space joining — thus allowing plenty of space for everything you need. If you are looking for different size tents Crua’s Tri and Loj are also perfect for adaptive camping.

Three campers sitting outside Crua Loj

Considering the details of a camping trip will further make for a stress-free experience. For those who find traditional camping gear like sleeping bags to be difficult to use, packing simpler alternatives — like the Crua Culla Blanket and Crua Quilt can offer an easier to maneuver option. The quilt is perfect for extra warmth and suitable to use all year round, and it’s easy to clean, as for the blanket-like option, it will eliminate the need for complicated zippers (and it can be perfect for sitting around the fire in a wheelchair). Other accessories can further make for an easier, stress-free trip. For example, one New Mobility blog post suggests charging up everything before you go — including your phone and wheelchair, and further suggests investing in a car charger for your wheelchair as well.

Finding Resources For Efficient Planning

Wheelchair user enjoying an accessible walking trail

When planning an accessible camping trip, doing research ahead of time is imperative. By researching locations well in advance, you can discover whether trails are accessible for wheelchair users, whether the campsite has an on-site accessible bathroom/shower, and any other accessible features that you may need during your stay.

For example, when planning to camp in the state of New York, checking for up-to-date information regarding accessibility at campgrounds through the Department of Environmental Conservation site will allow you to gather the proper information for your trip, as well as reach out with questions if needed. Accessibility.com further stresses the importance of being well prepared, noting that it’s usually best to make reservations at an accessible campsite ahead of time due to often being limited and in-demand.

The post further goes on to cite additional resources that can help plan an accessible camping trip, such as the National Park Service (NPS) which has dedicated pages that include information on features like accessible parking, slopes and terrain navigability.

It's Time To Enjoy The Great Outdoors!

Wheelchair user enjoying the beach with another person

For those who use a wheelchair, planning an enjoyable and accessible camping trip can feel nearly impossible. However, by knowing what to look for in an accessible campground, looking into helpful accessories, and planning ahead, you’re sure to plan the camping trip of a lifetime.

About The Author

Jennifer Dee is an experienced travel and adventure writer, who loves to write about her travels and exploration around the world. When not writing she’s probably hiking up an unknown mountain or enjoying some wild camping.

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