Publicado por: Ricardo Shimosakai | 03/03/2015

8 Wheelchair-accessible Arizona attractions

Renata Banwell make regular visits to Dead Horse Rabch State Park in Cottonwood to enjoy the wheelchair-accessible fishing lagoons and picnic areasRenata Banwell make regular visits to Dead Horse Rabch State Park in Cottonwood to enjoy the wheelchair-accessible fishing lagoons and picnic areas

Limited mobility shouldn’t keep anyone from getting out and exploring Arizona. Many attractions and activities around the state have trails and other facilities that comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and are suitable for most people who have physical challenges.

Consider these suggestions from seasoned travelers who rack up serious miles while piloting their wheelchairs.

Renata Barnwell and her husband, Richard, built their dream house in Sedona but do most of their outdoor adventuring in nearby Cottonwood. The couple make regular visits to Dead Horse Ranch State Park, a lush riparian gem on the banks of the Verde River.

“There’s something special about that particular park,” says Barnwell, who has used a wheelchair since an auto accident 26 years ago. “They’ve created a wonderful design with three fishing ponds and accessible paths that rim these water features. We spend many hours there, camping, picnicking and fishing. It gives me outdoor time not available on most hiking trails.”

The Canopy Trail is an accessible pathway that makes a quarter-mile loop through a grove of cottonwood trees. Both the Canopy and the lagoon trails are excellent places to spot birds and other wildlife. Dead Horse also offers ADA-compliant restrooms in day-use areas and campgrounds.

Barnwell also loves Kartchner Caverns State Park, south of Benson.

“Kartchner Caverns is an amazing place to visit if you want to experience going down inside a living, breathing wonderment of nature,” she says. “You do need assistance from someone because of the length and steepness of the path unless you have a power chair.”

Both cave paths include curves and inclines, some as steep as 12 percent. There are rest areas and benches, and tours stop frequently. Railings line most of the pathways. Crutches and walkers are not allowed, but rubber-tipped canes are permitted.

The trails are open to most manual and motorized wheelchairs, with some restrictions based on trail dimensions. Wheelchairs must have a seat width of 18 inches or less and must not exceed 30 inches in length. Motorized scooters should not be wider than 30 inches or longer than 40 inches. Manual wheelchairs can be borrowed at no charge.

Tucson resident Carolyn Anne Anderson was paralyzed in an SUV rollover crash when she was 17. She began painting as part of her healing process, with her service dog serving as her first model. Pretty soon she was receiving requests from others to paint their dogs. Her career blossomed and she expanded her subject matter. Anderson home-schools her two children, and part of their program involves regular outings. They seek out accessible places with strong educational components.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a popular stop. Two miles of paths crisscross the 21-acre grounds, and every exhibit can be reached by wheelchair, although some trails are unpaved and cross small hills. Wheelchairs are available free of charge, and electric scooter wheelchairs can be rented for $25 per day.

Anderson also recommends Saguaro National Park East, the Rincon Mountain District. The 8-mile Cactus Forest Drive has multiple pullouts for sightseeing, and the paved, quarter-mile Desert Ecology Trail follows Javelina Wash. Signs along the way introduce plants and animals of the desert.

In the western part of the park, the Tucson Mountain District, the Bajada Loop Drive meanders for 6 miles through scenic cactus forests. The Desert Discovery Trail is a half-mile long, paved and lined with exhibits. There are ramadas and benches along the way.

“One of our favorite places to visit is Pima Air & Space Museum,”Anderson says. “The main hangar is all flat and paved and they do lots of great interactive kids programs. They also offer two riding tours that are wheelchair accessible with advance notice.”

For the tour of the outside planes, which represent half of the collection, 30 minutes notice is needed so the wheelchair-accessible tram can be put into service. The other riding tour is the Boneyard/AMARG tour of the storage facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. For that one, a 72-hour notice is required.

Annabel Sclippa completes her tandem skydive with Red Rock SkydivingAnnabel Sclippa completes her tandem skydive with Red Rock Skydiving

About 20 years after she was paralyzed from the waist down in an auto accident, Annabel Sclippa decided to take up skydiving. Red Rock Skydiving offers a scenic flight over the red-rock country of the Verde Valley and a free-fall skydive.

“Karl Priggee, the owner, facilitated my jump and made me feel completely comfortable and in safe hands — even though we left the plane with a multiple forward roll,” Sclippa says. “As a person with a disability, I have to say he made the wheelchair literally disappear.”

Sclippa operated a popular bed-and-breakfast in Cottonwood for five years. Health issues forced her to close the inn, which has given her time to pursue her artistic passions. She works in watercolors, acrylics and oils, and her paintings are displayed in galleries throughout the Verde Valley.

One getaway Sclippa recommends for any Sedona visitor is a trip to Crescent Moon Picnic Area, better known as Red Rock Crossing. Not only is the towering formation of Cathedral Rock reflected in the water of Oak Creek one of the most photographed scenes in the Southwest, it’s also very accessible. There’s plenty of parking, accessible picnic tables and restrooms, and wide level paths to the creek.

For dinner and a show, the Blazin’ M Ranch in Cottonwood offers an old-time chuckwagon supper in a re-created frontier town. All facilities and attractions are accessible for wheelchairs and scooters except for the tractor ride. It’s best to advise of special seating needs in advance.

As an artist, Sclippa makes regular trips to Jerome, not an easy place to navigate under the best of circumstances. The former mining town turned arts community clings to the side of Mingus Mountain.

“Jerome can be very intimidating,” Sclippa says. “There are essentially four handicapped parking spots in town, one on each level. I just stay on the level where I park. There’s always plenty to see.”

Renata Barnwell has this advice for travelers with mobility issues:

“When considering a day trip or overnight adventure it’s best to call ahead with specific questions you may have about the property or area you want to visit. You will still be surprised, as it’s almost impossible to plan for every situation that comes up. The unexpected should be part of the adventure. Get out and experience the excitement and beauty of Arizona.”

Source: azcentral


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