4 Tips for Camping with Limited Mobility

October 2, 2023

The reality is that most camping tips across the web are aimed at helping able-bodied people who can zip up and down a path with nothing but a pair of shoes. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Architectural Barriers ACT (ABA) mandate that public and private entities make outdoor infrastructure accessible to people with a wide range of disabilities. Many challenges remain, however, for campers who use wheelchairs, as well as for others who have a range of physical disabilities.

But, with camping becoming more and more appealing to the masses, there are plenty of outdoor lovers that are confronted with varying mobility issues. Although limited mobility camping can be a tad more challenging in terms of planning, it is still totally achievable and worth doing in order to set up a tent or RV and enjoy a few days surrounded by the pitter patter of squirrels or the calls of the birds.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Camping if You Have Limited Mobility

1. Choose an Accessible Campground

Research campgrounds that offer accessible facilities, such as wheelchair-friendly paths, accessible restrooms, and campsites with level ground. Look for campgrounds that provide accessible amenities like picnic areas, fire rings, and fishing platforms.

There are countless campsites and cabin rental locations that offer fully accessible amenities for visitors, like the Estes Park / Rocky Mountain National Park KOA Holiday or the Myrtle Beach KOA Resort. KOA is also committed to increasing accessibility across their system of more than 500 campground locations. Some online research or even a call to the campsite will help to ease any uncertainty about the trip.

2. Plan Your Campsite Setup

Prioritize setting up your campsite in a way that maximizes convenience and accessibility. Position your tent or RV in a location that is easy to access. If you’re in a wheelchair, make sure the campsite surface is firm and level, and consider using a portable ramp if needed. Another pro tip is to arrange your camping gear, cooking equipment, and supplies in a way that minimizes the need for excessive movement. Essentially, try not to bury all your supplies deep down in your car never to be seen again.

Camp chores are of course part of the camping experience. For lugging gear to and from your vehicle, dumping gray water or gathering wood for a fire, consider purchasing an Advantage Wallaby Wheelchair Down Under Catchall Bag in lieu of precariously having to transport items.

Back view of mother and daughter hiking together in nature and walking uphill.

3. Pack Appropriately

Pack essential mobility aids and assistive devices, such as crutches, walking sticks, or a lightweight wheelchair if necessary. Consider bringing camping gear designed for accessibility, such as adjustable camp chairs or cots that are easier to get in and out of. You can also find local groups that work with disabled adventurers. Just Google ‘adaptive’ camping gear or supplies in your city. There are many nonprofits that run free or low-cost activities, and they are changing often. In dead zones, periodically check local offerings, including programs run by municipal, county and state parks departments, and consider a trip further afield if one happens to catch your eye.

Don’t forget any necessary medications, medical supplies, or assistive technology. And if you’re planning on using an RV for your camping, a toilet incline lift can also make using the facilities while camping much easier. Capable of being installed in under 15 minutes, this is a crucial tool for some campers with limited mobility. It even has battery-powered operation if corded isn’t possible.

A person who uses a wheelchair fishing.

4. Plan Activities Mindfully

Choose camping activities that align with your mobility level. For instance, if hiking is challenging, opt for shorter trails or accessible nature walks. Or another example is a hike can be replaced with a low-impact activity like an adaptive kayak. Just make sure you wear safety belts and life vests when they are available.

Another way to enjoy connecting with nature from your campsite is by observing wildlife, stargazing, birdwatching, or simply relaxing with a hobby in a hammock or camping chair. Card games are always a win in our book.

Having limited mobility or disability does not need to stop you from enjoying the great outdoors. Fortunately, many national parks and campsites are becoming more friendly for all sorts of travelers because they know that everyone should be able to enjoy the beauty of being with nature. If you have limited mobility, consider camping with friends or family who can assist you with tasks or provide support during your trip.

Lindsey Hall is an award-winning mental health speaker and writer, focusing on what she refers to as “the nitty gritty topics not discussed.” She is the author behind “I Haven’t Shaved in Six Weeks,” a blog written to humanize the stigmas of eating disorders and treatment.

Through her published writing and work in public relations, she has had the privilege of speaking around the world on nuanced topics such as Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Exercise Addiction, Orthorexia and other eating disorder behaviors, and has been featured in publications including TODAY Show, CBS, Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health, SheKnows, SHAPE Magazine, Refinery29, and more.

An outdoor enthusiast (and Colorado girl) at heart, Lindsey loves to hike wherever possible and is currently focused on taking her white Dodge Ram ProMaster van around the world with her lovely cat, Smudges. Together, they have traveled in over 40 states and even across borders into Canada to conquer the trails!

Follow Lindsey Hall on Instagram.

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