For those traveling National Park’s with disabilities, planning can be more complex. Accessibility can be limited due to a lack of ramps, rugged terrain, or comfortable sleeping accommodations. Despite this, the National Park Service (NPS) has taken to improving access for disabled park visitors through their Accessibility Task Force, which put into motion a five-year plan to improve park access for all.
In particular, Yellowstone National Park has long been regarded as an easily-accessible National Park for visitors with a disability. From wheelchair-accessible trails and visiting Old Faithful, to accessible fishing sites to cast a line – we welcome you to experience Yellowstone National Park to the fullest and visit a few of our favorite places.
1. Old Faithful
No trip to Yellowstone National Park is complete without a visit to Old Faithful. The famous cone geyser, named for its frequent and predictable eruptions that vary from 100-180 feet in height currently erupts an approximate 20 times a day. An icon of the National Park System and the American West, Yellowstone Valley Inn staff encourages every visitor to complete their visit to Yellowstone National Park by witnessing the eruption of Old Faithful.
Visitors to Old Faithful will find wheelchair-accessible boardwalks and paved trails leading from parking areas and the Old Faithful Visitor Education Center to the geyser and other hydrothermal features. With accessibility in mind, a preferred method of many visitors with a disability is by beginning their visit at the Lower Yellowstone General Store. This leads visitors a short 0.2 miles to Castle Geyser and Crested Pool while reducing the roundtrip distance to Morning Glory Pool to a total of 2.4 miles.
2. Madison River (Madison Area)
A mecca for fisherman visiting Yellowstone National Park, Yellowstone’s Madison River is just one of the park’s handicap-accessible locations. If you’re interested in casting a line in the Madison River, begin at the Mount Haynes Overlook, from which a level boardwalk leads to river access.
Additionally, the larger Madison Area features other accessible sites, including National Park Mountain, Madison River Junction, Firehole Canyon Drive, Two Ribbons Trail, and Terrance Spring.
3. Forces of the Northern Range Trail
A 0.5 mile lightly trafficked loop trail, Forces of the Northern Range Trail is a must-see for all Yellowstone National Park visitors. The boardwalk trail, located on the Blacktail Deer Plateau, between Mammoth Village and Tower Junction, will provide fascinating information about the forces of nature responsible for shaping the terrain. Come prepared for spectacular mountain views and be on the lookout for bison, elk, coyotes, pronghorn, bears and other fauna and flora.
Visitor Tip: Traveling more National Parks in your future? Visitors with disabilities may qualify for the America The Beautiful – National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Access Pass. This pass provides visitors a lifetime pass to visit National Parks for free* ($10 handling fee). Learn more about the Access Pass here.