Where can you camp with a mobility scooter?
Start by reimagining the “camping trip”
Can you go camping with a mobility scooter or power wheelchair? If you grew up doing any kind of camping, you might have a very specific version of what that is in mind.
June is National Camping Month, so we did a little digging to share what campsites offer the best accessibility amenities for people who use mobility devices.
Sleeping al fresco can be as much in the open air as you want it to be. If tenting isn’t your thing, most campgrounds these days offer cabins and lodges plus comfortable accessible bathrooms and paved — or at least packed gravel — paths for getting around more easily.
But it wasn’t always like that.
There was probably sleeping in a tent, a camp store at the edge of the park, canoe rentals and hiking. It might have been rugged, with few amenities. If you haven’t been camping in a few decades, you might be surprised to find how the industry has evolved. You can enjoy the great outdoors with far more creature comforts than, by comparison, camping with little accessibility in the 1970s.
Conversations about accessibility in outdoor activities got started in earnest in the 1980s, but really gained momentum following the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990.
Now state and national parks, as well as private campgrounds, offer features that make enjoying the outdoors accessible for everyone, even for people who use a mobility scooter or power wheelchair to get around.
As with any camping trip, do your own research on your specific destination, even down to what cabin or spot you’re staying in. Every campground has its own reputation, even those within the same network.
If you use a mobility scooter or power wheelchair, you’re probably used to spending time planning excursions. This should be no different, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have an utterly rewarding, memorable experience out in the wilderness.
Stay at a private campground
Like your favorite fast food joint, private campgrounds are franchised and operated by private owners in every state. They’re typically more expensive than a stay at a state or federally run campground, but the extra price tag has its advantages.
Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park
This Yogi Bear cartoon-themed franchise might be the most recognized brand of private campgrounds. They’re geared toward families and typically have tons of activities for children, including small water parks and daily games. If you have younger kids or grandkids, like, elementary school-aged, check out a Jellystone park.
Kampgrounds of America, or KOA, offers the biggest, most well-reviewed network of branded campgrounds in the country. Also, like Jellystone, its rates, especially for cabins, can get expensive. That said, you might be more likely to find the highest level of comfort amenities, like bathrooms, wifi and paved surfaces around your campsite. KOA campgrounds also have a pretty sterling reputation for friendly, accommodating staff.
Good Sam is more like a club for RV enthusiasts, but its network is massive, and includes campgrounds with other sleeping options including tents and cabins. We’re adding it to our list based solely on its size of more than 2,100 parks and campgrounds. You could say that Good Sam campgrounds aren’t subject to the same rigorous franchise quality controls as, for example a KOA or Jellystone, so do your research before booking your particular spot.
And while we’re focused mostly on cabin camping here, plenty of mobility device riders love an RV getaway. Any product from the Go-Go line of mobility scooters would be perfect for the RV enthusiast who wants to see it all. In fact, we had that class of riders in mind when we designed the Go-Go lineup. With Feather-Touch Disassembly, you can easily stow one in your RV’s cargo hold, then assemble it when you reach your destination.
Stay at a national park
National parks typically offer more profound sightseeing experiences at the expense of fewer amenities. If you’ve got your heart set on seeing the Grand Canyon and rely on your mobility scooter, be prepared to work a little harder at the actual site. You might find these destinations to be more accessible when your scooter is built for rougher terrain, for example the Go-Go LX 4-Wheel with Comfort Trac Suspension. It’s a portable scooter with the stability of four wheels, and the powerful, road-smoothing benefit of four-point suspension.
All that said, if breathtaking vistas at iconic destinations are on your must-do list, we turned to Outdoors.com for these options known for highly accessible amenities. They might be a good place to start. Some COVID-19 restrictions remain in place, and some places, like visitor centers, are still closed at national parks. So check ahead before booking your stay.
The Mather Campground at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona is the largest and most popular destination on the canyon’s South Rim. You’ll find campsites near restrooms, and other amenities, as well as easy access to viewing areas overlooking the canyon.
The Blackwoods Campground at Acadia National Park in Maine offers the most accessible camping experience in the park with hard-packed paths, wheelchair-accessible restrooms and an amphitheater. Roads are paved and it’s about a 10-minute walk to the Atlantic Ocean.
Perhaps one of the coolest spots on our list, Yellowstone has a ton of strange and colorful sights to take in as well as a bunch of accessible campgrounds and lodges throughout the park. Miles of accessible paths and other amenities make it easier for everyone to explore geysers (Old Faithful, anyone?) and wildlife that live in this seismic wonderland where tectonic plates, deep underground, come together.