One thing we love about the national parks is that they’re for everyone to enjoy. Thankfully, America’s oldest national park, Yellowstone National Park, is very accommodating for wheelchairs. Guests who use wheelchairs can easily see and explore much of the park.
While it’s impossible to visit all the attractions in a wheelchair, we’ve found five of the best wheelchair-accessible locations that Yellowstone National Park offers. Let’s get started!
About Yellowstone National Park
Most of the 3,500 square miles of Yellowstone National Park remain within the borders of Wyoming. However, the park is so vast it spills into small portions of Montana and Idaho. It’s one of the largest national parks in the contiguous United States.
The park is home to more than 10,000 hydrothermal features. You’ll find many hot springs, mud pots, fumaroles, and geysers throughout the park. The sights and smells sometimes leave you feeling like you’re exploring another planet.
Once you cross the park’s boundaries, you quickly see why President Ulysses S. Grant and many other government officials worked hard to make this America’s first national park. President Grant signed the declaration to create the Yellowstone National Park Protection Act on March 1, 1872. Visitors can explore the many incredible attractions throughout the park thanks to their efforts.
What Is the Number One Attraction in Yellowstone?
Upper Geyser Basin is the most popular attraction at Yellowstone National Park. It’s home to various unique thermal features, including the most famous geyser in the world, Old Faithful. This basin is home to the highest concentration of hot springs worldwide.
It’s crucial to note that this is an active geothermal area and that the springs can be boiling. Some hot springs reach almost 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and steam vents can approach 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
Swimming or entering any of the park’s thermal features is illegal, as it can cause injuries and fatalities.
Is Yellowstone Wheelchair Friendly?
Yellowstone is one of the most accessible parks for guests in wheelchairs. This is mainly because there are relatively flat and level platforms for guests to walk on to keep them safe while exploring the park. Many of the tours and activities throughout the park can accommodate guests in wheelchairs.
Also, many of the popular attractions in the park have spacious parking lots that include accessible parking spaces. This can be helpful as the parking lots can be very hectic, and finding available spaces can be challenging.
Yellowstone National Park provides guests in wheelchairs with information to help them make the most of their time in the park. They have many resources on their website for accessibility and wheelchair mobility.
5 Best Wheelchair Accessible Attractions in Yellowstone National Park
If you’re planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park in a wheelchair, there are five attractions you won’t want to miss. These wheelchair-friendly attractions at Yellowstone can provide an unforgettable experience. Let’s take a look!
1. Old Faithful
About: No trip to Yellowstone National Park is complete without visiting Old Faithful. While some geysers can have unpredictable eruptions, Old Faithful is very predictable. Park rangers typically have a 90% success rate of predicting the next eruption within 10 minutes.
While the height of an Old Faithful eruption can vary from 100 to 180 feet, a typical blast is around 130 to 140 feet. The eruptions can last from one minute to five minutes. While capturing hundreds of pictures or recording a video may be tempting, take the time to watch part of it with your eyes. You don’t want your only memories to be seeing it through your phone.
Old Faithful erupts approximately 20 times every day. Don’t stress if you miss an eruption by a few minutes; grab a spot on one of the many benches around the area or walk along the boardwalk.
However, secure a good spot early. The crowds during peak season can get enormous as it gets closer and closer to the eruption. If you arrive early, after 6 PM, or during the shoulder season, you’ll experience fewer crowds.
What’s Accessible: You don’t have to worry about accessing Old Faithful if you’re in a wheelchair. There are plenty of boardwalks and walkways leading to and around the geyser. There’s plenty of room to move about, and you can find an ideal spot to watch the show.
2. Biscuit Basin
About: Biscuit Basin has some unusual deposits that look like biscuits. These deposits once circled Sapphire Pool, but the 1959 Hebgen lake earthquakes shook things up.
The quake caused an eruption in Sapphire Pool, which launched the sediments away from the pool. What remains is one of the most beautiful blue pools within the national park boundaries. It’s quite a sight!
What’s Accessible: Biscuit Basin Trail is a short 0.6-mile looping boardwalk trail. A trip around this boardwalk allows you to enjoy incredible hydrothermal features like Jewel Geyser, Avoca Spring, and Sapphire Pool.
3. Tower-Roosevelt Area
About: The Tower-Roosevelt area features the Roosevelt Lodge, some food service locations, a gas station, a general store, and a gift shop. The site is bustling with activity during the peak camping season. Visitors at the lodge and various campgrounds in the area can find ample resources during their trip in this area.
What’s Accessible: Many of the facilities in this area are accessible in a wheelchair. In addition, the Soda Butte Creek and Warm Creek picnic areas have parking and accessible vault toilets and tables. There are sites at Pebble Creek, Slough Creek, and Tower Fall campgrounds that are accessible.
Don’t miss out on experiencing Tower Fall, Mount Washburn, Dunraven Pass, or Lamar Valley. There are plenty of accessible parking spots at most overlooks where you can take in the views.
4. Mammoth Hot Springs
About: The Mammoth Hot Springs area is one spot you don’t want to miss when visiting Yellowstone National Park. The site features some unique rock formations. There are more than 50 hot springs, and the sights and smells you experience are what many people think of when they reflect on their time in Yellowstone.
What’s Accessible: Mammoth Hot Springs has many wheelchair-accessible facilities and attractions. Guests in wheelchairs can easily visit the Albright Visitor Center, the medical clinic, the Terrace Grill, and the Mammoth Hotel’s dining and map rooms. In addition, most of the stores feature designated handicapped parking.
Mammoth and Indian Creek campgrounds have multiple accessible campsites. Wheelchair guests can experience portions of the boardwalks for the Lower Terraces and along Upper Terrace Drive.
There is also the Boiling River Trail, Force of the Northern Range Trail, and exploring Fort Yellowstone National Historic Landmark’s trail.
5. West Thumb Geyser Basin
About: The West Thumb Geyser Basin is Yellowstone Lake’s largest geyser basin. However, despite its size, it has less geyser activity than other park areas. You’ll still find plenty of hot springs, pools, mud pots, geysers, and fumaroles.
One of the most popular features in this section of the park is Fishing Cone. If you come for a sunset stroll, there’s a good chance you’ll have the entire place to yourself most of the year. It’s incredible to watch the colors change as they reflect off Yellowstone Lake.
What’s Accessible: It is a short walk along a boardwalk through West Thumb Geyser Basin. The trail is very easy for families and those in wheelchairs. Traveling the boardwalk can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, as you’ll likely want to take plenty of pictures.
Guests in a wheelchair may need assistance in the lower loop as there are sections with a 10% grade. While there is no designated handicapped parking at Lewis Falls, the pullout typically has plenty of space for maneuvering a wheelchair.
Is Visiting Yellowstone National Park Worth It?
There’s a reason millions of people visit Yellowstone National Park yearly. Due to its location and the extreme winter conditions, the park tends to have a shorter peak season.
However, during peak times, the park can become a bit chaotic. You shouldn’t miss this park, but we encourage you to visit during the shoulder season if possible. Enjoying the natural beauty of this park is much easier when there aren’t hordes of people everywhere.
What are your favorite wheelchair-accessible national parks?
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