When it comes to exploring new, adventurous terrain, age should never be a barrier.
Unfortunately, however, many parks and trails are not senior-friendly. By that, we mean it can be challenging to use wheelchairs and it can be extremely difficult for the visually impaired.
That being said, in the United States, we are blessed with a range of stunning national parks that are senior-friendly. Many of these are easy to access and perfect for a full family day out.
If you’re like me, you love exploring nature and the delights it has to offer. Whether you’re nine or ninety years old, you should be able to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of nature. And, the United States luckily has us covered in all departments!
If you’re a senior who loves to visit national parks, you can take advantage of a National park Service Senior Pass. With this pass (or a golden ticket as I like to call it), you can visit over 2,000 recreation sites across the States.
An annual pass is just $20, whilst a lifetime pass is $80. Go for the lifetime pass – it’s a no-brainer! Therefore, you can experience the incredible natural beauty and the history of these parks.
So, what national parks can seniors happily visit with no worries? Good question! Well, I have compiled this post today to show you the very best U.S. national parks that are senior-friendly. Whatever age you are, these parks should be on your list of places to visit.
Let’s dive right in.
Top Senior-Friendly National Parks
Yosemite National Park, California
I’m starting my list with one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations – Yosemite National Park in California.
Boasting some of the world’s most gorgeous waterfalls and granite cliffs, Yosemite also offers free assistive learning devices and sign language interpreters. Also provided are FAQ videos that are presented using American Sign Language, if required.
Park brochures are available in Braille and there are a range of activities for young visitors to enjoy, as well as for those with special needs.
You can use the accessibility guide to find a map that shows all accessible parking regions, picnic grounds, trails, restrooms, lodgings, food services, and campgrounds.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Maine is renowned for its beautiful, rugged, rocky coast and serene views of the ocean. It is also home to the highest peak on the Atlantic and is dotted with glorious historic lighthouses. And, all of this can be enjoyed within Acadia National Park.
Best of all, this national park is accessible to seniors and those with special needs. It provides a free, wheelchair-friendly Island Explorer shuttle bus. This transports visitors to various destinations within the park, including the most popular.
However, only some of these are accessible to wheelchairs, so it’s best to check with the operator beforehand.
All restrooms and visitor centers are wheelchair accessible, and designated parking spots are also on offer.
A range of campsites and picnic areas are also accessible to those with impaired movement or vision, including the park’s single restaurant, Jordan Pond House. This is wheelchair accessible and connects to the shuttle for easy access and transport.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Let’s travel to South Dakota as we enjoy one of the most accessible national parks in the United States – Badlands.
If you require the use of a wheelchair, the accessibility on offer at Badlands National Park is one of the best. All in all, there are around three wheelchair-friendly trails, open to the public to explore.
And, once your belly starts to grumble, you can grab a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants that are accessible by wheelchair. In fact, 92.3 percent of the restaurants in Badlands National Park are wheelchair-friendly (don’t ask me about that 0.7 percent!)
Badlands welcomes visitors from all over the world and it has become extremely popular for its beautiful camping sites, and hiking trails. But, if you simply want to enjoy the rugged scenery of this scenic park, then you can enjoy it, however mobile you are.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
There aren’t many more iconic views than at the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. At 277 miles long, there are a host of senior-friendly trails and locations along this incredible park.
After Badlands National Park, this may be the most accessible in the United States. It is popular with all ages, but especially for those over the age of 65, thanks to its carefully planned sites for wheelchair access.
The Canyon Rim trail can be accessed easily, allowing visitors with all levels of mobility to enjoy the canyon’s glorious views. And, all whilst staying on flat terrain and paved walkways that are located along the entire south rim.
Indiana Dunes National Park, Indiana
If you head to the southern shores of Lake Michigan, you will find the Indiana Dunes National Park. 15,000 acres of sandy beaches, dunes, wetlands, rivers, forests, and diverse wildlife, this park has it all!
Visitors can take in the sights of Indiana Dunes all year round. Whether you want a quiet stroll along the beaches, want to do a spot of fishing, or hiking through the various trails, this national park offers everything.
When the snow falls, this turns into a winter wonderland, with a range of winter sports on offer too. As for accessibility, Indiana Dunes is senior-friendly in many areas.
Hearing assistive devices are available, whilst several picnic areas, campgrounds, trails, and a fishing pier are also accessible.
And, when the summer hits, large-wheeled wheelchairs are available, so everyone can access the beach and enjoy those sweet, sweet sunshine rays.
Saguaro National Park, Arizona
Just outside Tucson, Arizona, there is a national park that is accessible to a range of mobility levels. If you are over the age of 65, you can enjoy the scenic views of this Southwest part of the country.
Not as famous as Arizona’s other national park, the Grand Canyon, Saguaro has a lower profile. But, its many flat trails and surrounding mountains and desert make it a great place to visit, especially if you have reduced mobility.
There is a driving route available throughout the park so you can enjoy the sights from the comforts of your car or a tour bus. I recommend visiting here in spring or fall as the temperatures can get pretty extreme otherwise.
Like to bird watch? Well, Saguaro National Park is a great place to see woodpeckers and desert-dwelling animals, such as Gila monsters and tortoises. And, all from its accessible trails.
Blue Ridge National Parkway, Virginia and North Carolina
Blue Ridge National Parkway is one of the oldest and most popular national parks in the United States. Sporting 469 miles of natural beauty, it is designated as an All-American road.
Linking the Great Smoky Mountains and Shenandoah National Parks, there are many accessible sites, including visitor centers, restrooms, and campsites. There are also programs designed for the visually impaired.
You can also enjoy another Blue Ridge Parkway site that includes more information on the overlooks and provides accessible trails, fishing spots, and further visitor centers.
Virgin Islands National Park
Looking for a national park that comes with beautiful views and a tropical feel? The Virgin Islands National Park is the one for you then!
If, like me, you love lounging and relaxing on the beach, then Trunk Bay is the place for you. As well as this, this national park offers some of the world’s most famous and beautiful white sand beaches. You can also explore the underwater trail, which is the first of its kind in the world.
Over 133,000 people visit this national park every year, but it is still somehow underrated, compared to others. How? No one knows but, it is a true gem that needs to be visited, at least once.
Moreover, the Virgin Islands are especially ideal for over 65s, especially if you’re planning a winter vacation.
Temperatures tend to sit around 78 degrees Fahrenheit from December to February so you can enjoy summer in the wintertime! And, if you love history, you can also enjoy the plantation remains, found across various islands.
Everglades National Park, Florida
Covering over a million acres of marshland in southern Florida, the Everglades National Park welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
And, what a sight you find when you arrive! Diverse tropical nature, and some endangered species, such as the Florida panther, American crocodile, and the manatee.
Everglades National Park is an International Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Therefore, it is no surprise that it has just about everything to offer everyone!
Visitor centers are accessible to everyone and assistive learning devices are available to those with hearing impairments. These will need to be requested for ranger-led programs.
If you have limited mobility, there are several wheelchair-friendly trails to enjoy, and even boat tours to take part in. ramps are located for easy access to certain areas and there are designated parking spots at the visitor centers.
Furthermore, printed information, tactile exhibits, and audio recordings are also available for visually and hearing impaired individuals.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is home to the world’s longest cave system. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also an International Biosphere Reserve, renowned for its unique nature and biodiversity.
For those with limited mobility, there are two tours available. There is also an elevator and access for walkers, scooters, canes, and wheelchairs. One tour offers a bus ride so those who struggle to walk long distances can enjoy the sites without having to over exert themselves.
For visually impaired visitors, an audio tour is available. This is such a great audio tour as it included realistic sounds of water running along the historic trails and sites found in the caves.
Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park may be best known for its exhilarating, extreme activities, but it is also accessible for seniors and for visitors with mobility issues.
If you’re a senior looking for a full on adventure, then Zion is the place to go. Even if you just want a little exploration, Zion National Park offers enough to pique your interests.
But, if adventurous, thrill-seeking activities are not for you, or you’re unable to take part, there are several trail options that are rated as easy for senior hikers. Some are also wheelchair accessible and paved for added convenience.
Another option is to take advantage of the bus tours. Furthermore, if you are over the age of 62, you can purchase a lifetime Park Pass for just $80 or an Annual Pass for $20. If you plan to visit often, I recommend these passes as a great way to save money in the long run!
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
If you like the idea of a relaxing cruise but still want to take in awe-inspiring scenery, you should head to Kenai Fjords National park, Alaska.
This national park is full to the brim with glaciers and fairytale-like lakes. And, the animals who call this place home can also be seen. These include seals, sea lions, and sea otters.
All kinds of Alaskan wildlife can be seen here. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a wildlife expert, or just want to capture amazing landscapes like nowhere else in the world, Kenai Fjords is the park for you.
Whether you’re interested in rugged landscapes, serene lakes, relaxing fishing spots, adventurous activities, or a white sand beach to forget your worries, U.S. national parks have you covered.
With many being wheelchair accessible and offering help for visually and hearing impaired visitors, the natural wonders of our world can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter your age or level of mobility.