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Barrier-Free Travel: Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for Wheelers and Slow Walkers

Barrier-Free Travel: Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for Wheelers and Slow Walkers

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Barrier-Free Travel: Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for Wheelers and Slow Walkers

529 pagine
3 ore
Jun 16, 2018


Penned by accessible travel expert Candy B. Harrington, this access guide includes detailed information about accessible trails, picnic areas, lodging options and attractions in Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. This handy resource features:
* Information on accessible trails, picnic areas and attractions in all three parks.
* Access details and photos over 40 lodging options, including all in-park lodgings as well gateway city offerings.
* Details on accessible bus and boat tours, along with shuttle services to, from, and within the parks.
* Amtrak, airport and accessible van rental information for easy connections to the parks.
* Information on loaner wheelchairs, free-ranger-led tours, access passes and discounts, and loads of insider access tips for a truly accessible national park vacation.
* Information about barrier-free camping options in the parks, including the site numbers and features of the accessible campsites.
* Recent access upgrades and updates in the parks.
This guide will help you find an accessible room that works for you, and plan a accessible itinerary based on your abilities. Barrier-Free Travel; Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks for Wheelers and Slow Walkers is a great resource for seniors, parents with stroller-aged children, Baby Boomers, folks who just like to take things a littler slower, and anybody who uses a cane, walker, wheelchair or scooter.
An essential National Park resource!

Jun 16, 2018

Informazioni sull'autore

Known as the guru of accessible travel, Candy Harrington has been writing about travel for wheelchair users and slow walkers exclusively for over 20 years. She’s the founding editor of Emerging Horizons, and the author of the classic Barrier Free Travel; A Nuts and Bolts Guide for Wheelers and Slow Walkers.Tape measure in hand, Candy hits the road often, in search of new accessible travel finds. And when she’s not on the road, she enjoys spending time with her travel photographer husband at their home in the Sierras.

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Barrier-Free Travel - Candy B Harrington

Barrier-Free Travel

Glacier, Yellowstone


Grand Teton

National Parks

for Wheelers and Slow Walkers

Candy B. Harrington

photographs by Charles Pannell

Candy & Charles Creative Concepts

© 2017 by Candy B. Harrington

Smashwords Edition License Notes:

All rights reserved. This book is protected by copyright. No part of it may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Other Books by Candy B. Harrington

Published by

Candy & Charles Creative Concepts

PO Box 278

Ripon, CA 95366-0278

To Charles



Admission, Reservations and Park Passes

Admission Fees

Park Passes

Authorized Park Concessionaires

Glacier National Park

The Basics

Apgar — Lake Mc Donald

Going-to-the-Sun Road

St. Mary Lake

Many Glacier

Two Medicine — Walton

Lodging, Attractions & Services Outside Glacier

West Glacier


Columbia Falls

St. Mary

East Glacier Park Village


Glacier National Park Resources

Yellowstone National Park

The Basics

Old Faithful

Yellowstone Lake

West Thumb — Grant Village


Tower — Roosevelt

Madison — Norris

Mammoth Hot Springs

Lodging and Attractions Outside Yellowstone

West Yellowstone



Yellowstone National Park Resources

Grand Teton National Park

The Basics

Moose Junction

Jenny Lake

Jackson Lake

Highway 191

Lodging, Attractions and Services Outside Grand Teton

Jackson Hole

John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway

Grand Teton National Park Resources

Preface — The Forces of Nature at Work

Mother Nature is a fickle mistress for sure. I’ve been aware of that fact for quite some time; however I was repeatedly reminded of this deity’s propensity for change during the research phase of this book. And although it was one of the most challenging press trips that I’ve ever taken, it also turned out to be the most rewarding. Suffice it to say that Mom Nature can put on quite the show.

But I digress.

The forces of nature are constantly at work in our national parks; in fact that’s what shapes some of the spectacular natural features — including the magnificent canyons and glacial moraines — that dot these national treasures. And I certainly witnessed these forces at work during my tenure in Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks.

It all started in Glacier National Park. As soon as we arrived we noticed a telltale scent of smoke in the air. It was a bad year for wildfires in and near the park, and unfortunately it got worse during our three-week stay. After the wind changed, Lake McDonald Lodge was closed, as the smoke was deemed a health hazard for the resident employees. At one point when the lodge was threatened, it was eerie to see the hose lays that encircled the deserted buildings. Fortunately the fire spared the lodge, but a section of Going-to-the-Sun Road was closed for the season in early September.

There were also a lot of firsts on this trip, including the first time I’ve ever done a hotel inspection during an evacuation. That happened in Apgar Village, and it’s something that I won’t soon forget.

Moving on to Yellowstone, we arrived in an unseasonal early September snowstorm. Yes, Mother Nature was at work again, and no matter how many obstacles she created with the snow, they were at least softened by the breathtaking views. I lost count of how many times the passes closed, and to be honest the road condition hotline was on speed-dial whenever I had a signal. At one point all of the lodges in the park were isolated islands, as roads were closed, traffic came to a standstill, and folks just had to settle in wherever they were. But again, that’s how Mother Nature works.

And then there was Grand Teton. To be honest, we could see Mother Nature at work everywhere in this park, as the freshly fallen snow dotted the jagged peaks that seemed to rise up to the heavens. At times we just sat there in awe. And then of course there was our resident moose and her calf, that grazed right outside our cabin door. Talk about having a font row seat!

And although these forces of nature help shape the natural features of the parks, another force — a man-made force — helps shape the physical access. And in that respect I was thrilled to find a multitude of access improvements in all three of these national parks.

For starters the accessible Red Buses in Glacier are awesome. They have roll-up plastic flaps on the windows, so passengers get the same open-air experience that’s available on the historic buses. Additionally, passengers get a full view of everything around them, thanks to an on-board camera and monitors. Xanterra did a great job of finding an accessible alternative to the historic Red Buses, and now these tours are open to everyone.

Down in Yellowstone, the new visitor center at Old Faithful not only offers barrier-free access; but it also sports an indoor viewing area for folks who can’t handle the summer heat. And the boardwalks over at Midway Geyser Basin have a gradual grade with level spots along the way. Again, the powers that be did an excellent job of making this hilly terrain wheelchair-accessible.

Finally, down in Grand Teton, the recent improvements at Jenny Lake include the addition of a new accessible lakeshore trail. And the existing accessible Multiuse Trail now extends all the way to the park entrance, and continues on to Jackson. I was thrilled to find these access upgrades.

Which leads me to the main reason I wrote this book — so I can share these access improvements, and other access details with folks who want to get out and explore the great outdoors.

Folks like Steve — a power wheelchair-user who I met while I was inspecting the restrooms in Madison Campground. At first he thought I was doing a drive-by to use the facilities — a huge no-no in campground etiquette — but once I revealed my real purpose, he excitedly shared with me how much he loves to visit and explore this seemingly rugged national park. And might I add, this happened right after the snowstorm, which didn’t seem to phase him at all.

And Steve is not alone. There are many other folks who want to get out and enjoy our national parks — folks who may not be aware of the accessible trails, attractions, campgrounds, tours and lodging options available to them. I wrote this book to share that information with them as well.

After all, information is power, as far as access is concerned. And I love to empower people.

Of course, access improvements and upgrades will continue at all these parks, and that’s a very good thing. In order to keep up with this progress I plan to include updates about future access improvements at And if you happen to stumble across a change or improvement, I invite you to let me know about it, so I can spread the word.

In the end, Mother Nature will continue to shape these parks, and man will continue to make them more accessible. And from where I stand that’s definitely a winning combination.

So get out and enjoy these scenic national treasures — and let me know how you like them.

Candy Harrington

Facebook: Candy Harrington

Twitter: Candy B. Harrington

Pinterest: Candy Harrington

Table of Contents

Admission, Reservations and Park Passes

Admission Fees

Admission fees to the national parks covered in this book are as follows:

Glacier National Park — $30

Glacier Winter Rate (November 1 - April 30) — $20

Yellowstone National Park — $30

Grand Teton National Park — $30

Yellowstone & Grand Teton Combined — $50

Fees are collected at park entrance stations, and admission is good for seven days. Payment can be made with cash or a credit card. Save your receipt as you’ll need to show it if you enter a park through a different gate, or if you come and go from a park.

Fee Increase

At press time the National Park Service was considering raising entrance fees at all three parks covered in this book. If this proposal is approved, entrance fees will increase to $70 for private vehicles during the peak season, which is from May 1 to September 30. Check the park websites for the latest updates on this proposal.

Table of Contents

Park Passes

A number of discount park passes are also available at all national park entrance kiosks. See if you qualify for one, as it may help trim your travel budget.

Access Pass

This free lifetime pass provides for free park admission, and is available to U.S. citizens or residents with a permanent disability. Applicants must provide documentation of a permanent disability, and prove residency or citizenship. The pass also offers a 50% discount on campsites and boat launch fees. It generally does not provide for a discount on fees charged by concessionaires.

Military Pass

The free annual Military Pass provides for free park admission, and is available to active members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Reserve and National Guard Members are also eligible. A Common Access Card or Military ID (Form 1173) is required to obtain this pass.

Senior Pass

This lifetime pass provides free park admission, and is available to U.S citizens or permanent residents age 62 or older. The cost of the pass is $80. An annual Senior Pass is also available for $20, and the cost for this annual pass can be applied to the purchase of a lifetime pass. Proof of age and residency or citizenship are required. The pass also offers a 50% discount on campsites and boat launch fees. It generally does not provide for a discount on fees charged by concessionaires.

Annual Pass

If you plan on visiting a number of national parks throughout the year, the Annual Pass may be a good deal for you. This non-transferable pass costs $80 and it’s good for free park admission for the entire year. It’s an especially attractive deal if you live near a national park, or are planning a road trip that includes a number of national parks. You can also order this pass by calling (888) 275-8747.

Annual 4th Grade Pass

This free annual pass is available to all 4th graders and is valid for the duration of the 4th grade school year and the following summer. Paper vouchers can be obtained at and exchanged for an Annual 4th Grade Pass at any national park entrance. This pass is also available to home-schooled students.

Table of Contents

Authorized Park Concessionaires

All of the lodgings inside Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks are operated by authorized concessionaires, who have contracted with the National Park Service, and operate under strict guidelines. They are responsible for the daily operations of the facilities, as well as improvements and upgrades. It’s important to deal with these concessionaires directly when you make a reservation; as not only will you get the best price there, but you will also have access to employees that can block the accessible rooms and describe the access details of each available room. Unfortunately these concessionaires do not always come up first in internet searches because paid advertisements appear before them. Some of these paid advertisements even list national park lodges that are located many miles outside the parks, which is very misleading to people who are unfamiliar with the geography of the parks. The authorized concessionaires for all three parks covered in this book are listed below. Again, deal directly with these concessionaires for all lodging reservations.

Glacier National Park


(855) 733-4522

Village Inn at Apgar

Lake McDonald Lodge

Rising Sun Motor Inn

Many Glacier Hotel

Swiftcurrent Motor Inn


(888) 868-7474

Apgar Village Lodge

Motel Lake McDonald

Yellowstone National Park


(307) 344-7311

Old Faithful Snow Lodge & Cabins

Old Faithful Inn

Old Faithful Lodge Cabins

Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins

Lake Lodge Cabins

Grant Village Lodge

Canyon Lodge & Cabins

Roosevelt Lodge Cabins

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel & Cabins

Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton Lodge Company

(307) 543-3100

Jenny Lake Lodge

Jackson Lake Lodge

Colter Bay Village Cabins

Forever Resorts

(307) 543-2831

Signal Mountain Lodge

Table of Contents

Glacier National Park

Known as the Crown of the Continent because the Continental Divide bisects the park, Glacier National Park encompasses more than a million acres of coniferous forests, alpine meadows, pristine lakes and glacier-carved peaks. The park is located in Northwestern Montana, and its northernmost boundary hugs the Canadian border. The wildlife in the park is just as diverse at the landscape that supports it, and it includes elk, bighorn sheep, moose, and one of the largest remaining grizzly populations in the lower 48 states. And although parts of the park are remote and isolated, the rugged Going-to-the-Sun Road allows visitors access to some of these pristine areas during the summer months.

There are four entrances to Glacier National Park.

The West Entrance is located 45 minutes northeast of Kalispell, 25 minutes northeast of Columbia Falls and 35 minutes northeast of Whitefish on Highway 2. It’s the western gateway to Going-to-the-Sun Road, which crosses the park; and just a short drive from the West Glacier Railroad Depot.

The St. Mary Entrance is located on the east side of the park, at the other end of Going-to-the-Sun Road. The closest major city to this entrance is Browning, which is 28 miles southeast on Highway 89.

The Many Glacier Entrance is also located on the east side of the park, about a half-hour drive from the St. Mary Entrance. It’s the closest park entrance for Canadian visitors.

The Two Medicine Entrance is in the southeast corner of the park. It’s about 10 miles northwest of East Glacier, where the East Glacier Railroad Depot is located.

Glacier National Park also has a Canadian connection. Although Waterton Lakes National Park is located across the U.S. border from Glacier National Park, an international treaty unites them. In 1932 the United States and Canada created the world’s first international peace park — the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park — and pledged to work together in the spirit of peace and goodwill to protect the resources of both areas. Although this affiliation is noted on the official map for Glacier National Park, Waterton Lakes National Park is managed by Parks Canada, and requires a separate admission fee. It’s about an hour drive from the St. Mary Entrance to Waterton Lakes National Park, but the travel time is highly dependent on the traffic at the border crossing.

Last but not least, there’s the magnificent rugged backcountry in Glacier National Park. Most of it is only reachable by dirt roads and inaccessible trails, so as beautiful as it is, it’s not covered in this book. Don’t let that dishearten you though, because everyone can still see the glacier-carved peaks and magnificent scenery thanks to a myriad of accessible trails, overlooks and scenic drives throughout the park.

Table of Contents

The Basics

Road Conditions and Operating Seasons

Glacier National Park is open year-round; however the alpine portion of Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed from late fall to late spring due to snow. Plowing of this road is a massive undertaking, and portions of it open incrementally in the late spring as plowing is completed. The entire length of Going-to-the-Sun Road generally does not open until June or July, and it usually closes again in late October. And although the exact opening and closing dates vary from year to year, daily progress updates of the plowing efforts are posted on the park website.

The portion of Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge is maintained throughout the year; however other park roads may only be accessed by cross country skis or snowshoes during the winter. Snowmobiles are not allowed in the park. Additionally, vehicles over 21 feet long, 10 feet high and 8 feet wide are not allowed on Going-to-the-Sun Road between Avalanche Campground and Rising Sun at any time.

Conditions along the park roads may change quickly in the spring and fall. Updated information about all road closures can be found on the park website.


The highest point in Glacier National Park is Mt. Cleveland, which towers an impressive 10,448 feet above sea level. That said, the highest point reachable by car is Logan Pass, which has an elevation of 6,646 feet. Elevations in the majority of the other touristed areas of the park range from 3,000 to 4,500 feet.

Although the symptoms of altitude sickness generally do not appear at elevations under 8,000 feet, wheelchair-users, slow walkers and people with compromised immune systems may feel the effects of increased altitudes at significantly lower elevations. Symptoms can include headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, lethargy, insomnia and gastrointestinal disturbances. If you are unfamiliar with the effects that higher elevations have on your body, it’s best to take it slow and drink plenty of water for the first few days at any increased elevation, especially if you live at sea level. Additionally, you may want to consult your doctor regarding the effects that increased elevations may have on your specific condition. To assist you in your travel planning, the elevations of all the major areas of the park are listed at the beginning of each section.


The Glacier Park International Airport is the closest commercial terminal to Glacier National Park. It’s located in Kalispell, about a 45-minute drive southwest of the West Entrance of Glacier National Park. Complimentary shuttle service in a lift-equipped vehicle from the airport to Grouse Mountain Lodge is available upon 24-hours advance notice, but on-call service is available in a pinch (see Grouse Mountain Lodge listing). The Missoula International Airport is located a little further away, approximately 150 miles south of the West Entrance to the park. Accessible van rentals are available in Missoula from A&M Mobility (406-541-6625). Advance reservations are required for accessible van rentals.


Amtrak’s Empire Builder train runs from Chicago to Spokane, with stops in Whitefish, West Glacier and East Glacier. Connections are also available to Seattle and Portland. The Empire Builder train has an onboard wheelchair ramp.

The West Side Shuttle offers accessible transfers from the West Glacier Railroad Depot to Lake McDonald Lodge and the Village Inn at Apgar. For more information or to make reservations call (855) 733-4522. Grouse Mountain Lodge also offers transfers in an accessible van from the Whitefish Railroad Depot for lodge guests (see Grouse Mountain Lodge listing). The East Glacier Railroad Depot is conveniently located across the street from Glacier Park Lodge; and accessible transfers for lodge guests are available with 24 hours advance notice. Access details about each depot can be found in their individual listings.

Going-to-the-Sun Road Shuttle

Free shuttle transportation is available to Logan Pass from Apgar Visitor Center and St. Mary Visitor Center during the summer months. Both routes offer stops at the major viewpoints along Going-to-the-Sun

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