Handicap parking in national parks is a topic disabled drivers are especially interested in now that COVID-19 restrictions have eased. With many strict lockdowns having been lifted, people are taking the opportunity to get away on vacation.
Trips abroad, as well as to built-up cities both American and foreign, are less popular and convenient in summer 2020. This is due to continuing restrictions on foreign travel and the limited reopening and potential health risks of cities.
For this reason, national parks info for people with disabilities is more pertinent than ever. America’s national parks, from iconic Yellowstone to the many smaller but also spectacular wildernesses across the land, are perfect getaways. They offer stunning scenic beauty, epic wildlife, and endless rejuvenating lungfuls of fresh, clean air.
For a disabled driver planning to visit a national park, there are some important considerations that need to be taken into account. Disabled drivers typically have several questions about visiting national parks: Are there disabled parking facilities at national parks? What are the requirements for disabled parking at national parks? How do I get a disability pass for national parks? What types of disabled parking permits are valid in national parks?
The great news is that national parks are very accessible to people with disabilities. The facilities at national parks are impressively disabled-driver-friendly, so you can absolutely avail of the nation’s great national parks. Read on for a guide to disabled parking in national parks.
Are There Disabled Parking Facilities At National Parks?
All national parks have disabled parking facilities. Most also have wheelchair-accessible attractions such as visitor centers, exhibitions, campgrounds, and viewing areas. All national parks strive continuously to eliminate barriers to accessibility at their facilities.
What Are The Requirements For Disabled Parking At National Parks?
The easiest way to avail of disabled parking at national parks is to have a disabled parking permit. A disabled parking permit is a legal document that proves its holder has been verified as a disabled driver by a licensed physician in their home state.
Another way to avail of disabled parking at national parks is to get an “America the Beautiful” Access Pass. All permanently disabled people are entitled to a free lifetime Access Pass, which entitles the holder to avail of disabled facilities at all national parks.
What Types Of Disabled Parking Permits Are Valid In National Parks?
All types of disabled parking permits are valid in national parks. The most common types of disabled parking permit are:
- Temporary placard – for people whose disability is temporary. Usually valid for up to six months.
- Permanent placard or license plate – for people whose disability is permanent. Usually valid for between one and five years.
- Disabled Veteran’s license plate – for people whose disability is at least partly service-related.
- Organizational placard or license plate – for organizations that transport disabled people.
Most of the largest national parks have their own disabled parking placard. You get one of these by showing your disabled parking permit or Access Pass to a park warden at the park entrance. The warden will then give you a disabled parking permit specific to that park, which you should display on your dashboard.
Are Foreign Disabled Parking Permits Valid At National Parks?
Disabled parking permits from most foreign countries are accepted in US national parks. The ECMT reciprocal agreement states that US disabled parking permits will be recognized in all European countries plus Australia, Canada, Japan, Korea, and New Zealand, and that all of these countries’ permits will be recognized in the US.
How Do I Get A Free Disability Access Pass For National Parks?
Permanently disabled drivers qualify for a free “America The Beautiful” lifetime access pass. This grants its holder free access to thousands of federal recreation sites, as well as various discounts once on these sites.
To qualify for a free Access Pass a person must be permanently resident in the US and be permanently disabled. You get an Access Pass by applying in person at any participating federal recreation site or by mailing an application form to the United States Geological Survey. Relevant documentation must be supplied.
What Are The Disabled Access Facilities At The Most Famous National Parks?
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park has disabled parking facilities in all major areas. It also has:
- Wheelchair-accessible walkways leading to many of the main attractions (including Old Faithful Geyser)
- Wheelchair-accessible campsites and visitor centers
- Accessible ATMs, boating facilities, dining, fishing, lodging, exhibits, viewing points
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park has:
- Handicap parking in all main areas
- Wheelchair rental
- Wheelchair-accessible shuttle buses to the main attractions within the park
- Sightseeing by car
- Wheelchair-accessible open-air tour trams
- Trail rides
- Wheelchair-accessible bathrooms, restaurants, lodging, camping, picnicking facilities, visitors centers, museum, and Indian village
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon has disabled parking in all main areas, but some of the facilities at the park were built before current accessibility standards were set. Sightseeing buses are wheelchair-accessible, and Scenic Drive Accessibility Permits are available that allow people with disabilities access to areas that are closed to public traffic and that afford great views of the park. Many Grand Canyon Park Ranger Programs are wheelchair-accessible.
How Do I Get a Disabled Parking Permit?
To get a disabled parking permit, go to Dr. Handicap and set up a consultation with a licensed physician. The consultation will take place online, and once your disability has been verified, the physician will write you a disabled parking letter of recommendation.