Lonely Planet Writer

Canoemobile offers US national park access for disabled visitors

This summer, people with disabilities have a chance to explore an American national park from a new, watery perspective. Beginning this month and continuing until October, the Canoemobile fleet of floating classrooms is going on a tour of America’s national parks.

Canoemobile offers US national park access for disabled.
Canoemobile offers US national park access for disabled.

Canoemobile is a program that connects people with limited access to wilderness experiences to the great outdoors. Led by a team of outdoor educators, each of its fleet of 24-foot Voyageur canoes, designed specifically for safe paddling on big water, holds between six and ten paddlers. The canoes have been modified to be used by people with all kinds of abilities, with specially adapted seat pads and paddling equipment. People with vision impairment and hearing loss are also accommodated.

The program is run by non-profit adventure travel company Wilderness Inquiry, which promotes access to the outdoors for underserved youth and people with disabilities. “For many of the participants, it’ll be their first time in a boat on the water, perhaps even their first time in a national park,” says Jeffrey Kemnitz, outreach director at Wilderness Inquiry. “They get to go out and experience the beauty of America’s national parks from a new perspective. They’ll experience fear and trepidation, melting away into joy and appreciation for their own strengths.” Each session lasts two or three hours.

Part of celebrations marking the centennial of the US National Parks Service, the program is made possible by outdoor equipment manufacturer Toad&Co and the National Park Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the National Park Service. For more information, go to the events page wildernessinquiry.org and click on the location of your choice. You’ll be taken to that event’s information page, where you can register for the event or even volunteer.

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