Accessibility in the natural wonders of Washington State

Accessibility in the natural wonders of Washington State

Active volcanoes, thousands of glaciers, lush jungles, pristine beaches, diverse ecosystems... Washington State is filled with natural beauty that will leave any visitor speechless. For this reason, it is known as the Evergreen State. Its landscapes are a true sanctuary for all creatures.

In this week’s post we tell you about the accessibility of some places you can’t miss. 

MOUNT RAINIER

Mount Rainier rises at 4400 meters above sea level and beautifies the landscape southeast of the city of Seattle. Due to its many glaciers, it is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world.

Around the peak, the meadows are a wildflower paradise. There are accessible trails for wheelchair users seeking adventure and areas to enjoy a picnic with good company.

As specified on the National Park Service website, there are also accessible restrooms located in the different areas. 

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

There is much to discover in Olympic National Park, from rainforests to pristine beaches. Fortunately, many of these areas are accessible to people with reduced mobility

With its lush greenery, the Hoh Rainforest attracts many visitors throughout the year and deserves special mention. It is located on the western side of the park and stands out as one of the few temperate forests in the country. It also has the following features: 

  • Accessible visitor center with adapted restrooms. A wheelchair is available.
  • Picnic areas with table extensions and paved campsites.
  • Accessible parking spaces in front of park information panels.
  • Compacted gravel trails. Some have little slope, but there are also sections with roots, rocks, or steeper inclines. The National Park Service collects all the data on the slopes and widths of each trail. Therefore, it is advisable to consult the website before visiting.

Also noteworthy is the Kalaloch and Ruby Beach area, which are the refuge of many marine species. They are on the southeast coast of the Olympic Peninsula. In addition, they have four campsites accessible to wheelchair users and wooden bridges leading to the beach (there may be steps in certain sections and obstacles due to vegetation).

PALOUSE FALLS

The Palouse Falls have been the inspiration for many artists seeking to capture the four seasons and the flow of water on canvas. The falls, 61 meters high, and the canyon downstream were formed by floods during the Pleistocene. 

The State Park where the falls are located has accessible viewpoint and picnic areas suitable for everyone. For more information, see the brochure prepared by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission

NORTH CASCADES

Backpackers from all over the world choose to go to the North Cascades to enjoy the tranquility found only in the mountains. The water in the Cascade is fed by more than 300 glaciers, and the trails are surrounded by a variety of plants and animals. 

The national park has accessible restrooms at all visitor information points and at most campgrounds. As specified by the National Park Service, the North Cascades Visitor Center, Nature Information Center, Sedro-Woolley Information Station, Sterling Munro Trail, and Happy Creek Forest Walk are fully accessible.

Trails near the visitor center have gently sloping surfaces (less than 10% grade). There are also campsites at Newhalem and Goodell Creek Campgrounds.

SAN JUAN ISLAND

Known for their natural beauty, the San Juan Islands enjoy a temperate climate in the Strait of Georgia. To adequately welcome all visitors, they are making accommodations, though admittedly there may still be obstacles such as narrow sidewalks or steep hills. 

Orcas Island’s main village, Eastsound, has almost all of its sidewalks accessible and half of the stores are accommodated. Lopez Villa on Lopez Island has accessible restrooms in public parks, and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island has upgraded several intersections.

Some island state parks, such as Lime Kiln Point, have trails that are accessible to wheelchair users. As the San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau website indicates, you can also visit places of interest such as the San Juan Community Theater, the Orcas Center, the Whale Museum, or the San Juan Vineyard.

All Washington State ferries are accessible, so you can get around without any problems. In addition, there are several adapted buses with elevators and ramps on San Juan Island. 

APE CAVE

Beauty is also found underground. Ape Cave on Mount St. Helens has the third longest lava tube in North America and was discovered in 1947. 

It is important to bring warm clothing, flashlights (cell phone light is not enough) and appropriate footwear. Its areas for visitors are paved. There is a path that leads to the lower entrance of the cave, then you have to go down some stairs, so it is an activity recommended only for some people with reduced mobility.

Although the video is old, the USDA Forest Service website shows the accessibility of Mount St. Helens, including the cave. We will update if we find new data. 

If you want to visit any of these places, remember that you can find accessible accommodation with Travegali.

Tell us, have you visited these places, what others would you add to the list?

Sources: National Park Service (1)(2)(3), Washington State Parks, San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau, Forest Service

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