Tag Archives: accessible

California’s Most Beautiful State Reserves

California is home to some of the most iconic national parks in the United States. Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, and Death Valley are only a few of the more prominent parks of the state. Hailing thousands of visitors not only from the country but even internationally, it has made a name out of stunning geographical features and activities for outdoor enthusiasts. These parks have since heralded visitors due to their monumental beauty and careful preservation efforts.

But aside from its more acclaimed national parks, California also hosts some of the most breathtaking natural state reserves in the nation. Natural state reserves are dedicated preservation areas typically with historical, geological, or cultural significance to the state or country. Even when flanked with the impressive national and state parks in the state, these reserves can more than hold their own. Check out some of the most beautiful state reserves in California below!

Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve

Ever wanted to feel like you’re being transported to another world entirely? If so, that’s just what you’ll experience when you visit Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve.

Mono Lake Tufa SNR [Image url: http://www.parks.ca.gov/pages/514/images/P0074810_Sunset.jpg]

Mono Lake Tufa SNR is dazzling in the early sunset. Towers of tufas are seen adorning the scenery while gorgeous colors can be seen reflecting in the surrounding waters. [Image: http://www.parks.ca.gov/]

Mono Lake Tufa is a state natural reservation located in eastern California. While this seemingly out-of-this-world natural reserve is relatively near its more iconic cousin, the grand Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake can nevertheless hold its own candle. Surrounded by towering tufas—columns of calcium carbonate formed in carbonate-rich saltwater lakes—Mono Lake provides a dreamy sight for every visitor to marvel at.

The reserve’s preservation committee typically holds tours every weekend throughout the winter months for those interested in visiting this breathtaking place. Check their calendar of events for more information as inclement weather can effect the routine tour schedules. The best time to visit? Sunset. The clear waters and panoramic background paint a palate of dazzling brilliance over the scenery.

For adventure enthusiasts, you’ll find that the Mono Lake has quite an ecosystem. Multiple avian species like the mountain quail, calliope hummingbird, and American wigeon have been sighted in the vicinity. Canada geese, mallards, and other ducks are also frequent visitors during migration periods.

Canada Goose in Mono Lake

Canada geese can be seen flocking in Mono Lake during their migration months. [Image: http://static-myyosemitepark.s3.amazonaws.com/]

Hiking, photography, swimming, and boating are only a few of the activities offered in this area. For those that want to spend a night within its majestic grounds, be sure to read up on the rules and regulations regarding camping permits.

Mono Lake Tufa at night

Tufa can be seen standing regally against a backdrop of the Milky Way at night. During the spring and summer months, a stunning view of the stars make quite a memorable camping environment. [Image: http://goldpaintphotography.com/]

For more information regarding Mono Lake, please visit their park website.

Point Lobos State Natural Reserve

With views sweeping over deep blue ocean, impressive rocky montages, noble trees, and crashing ocean foam, Point Lobos is a picturesque paradise located in the central coast of Monterey County. Flanked by rolling meadows of green, a thriving ecosystem, and ethereal scenery, this natural reserve is an ideal place to simply get lost in nature’s astounding beauty.

Point Lobos China Cove

One of Point Lobos’ celebrated sights is China Cove. It is a popular tourist sight due to its crystal clear waters along the shorelines. [Image: http://www.montereybayinsider.com/]

The reserve hosts an outdoor program for children and families, tours, diving excursions, hiking, and easy access to adventures all amidst its tranquil atmosphere. Volunteers are available throughout the area to provide information regarding the rich history of Point Lobos.

A section of Point Lobos where waves can be seen crashing in the inland shores. [Image: http://icons.wunderground.com/data/wximagenew/j/jimkv/460-800.jpg]

A section of Point Lobos where waves can be seen crashing on the inland shores. [Image: http://icons.wunderground.com/

If you intend to visit Point Lobos, layers of clothing are suggested due to the distance between the waters. The chilly ocean breeze is quick and eager to drive the heat away from your body, so it is best to bring extra clothing. Other suggested items include a camera to remember the stunning views with, as well as sunscreen and water.

Take a peek at the Point Lobos page for more information.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

On the southern side of California, between La Jolla and Del Mar and north of San Diego, lies Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This state reserve is one of the last two abodes of the rarest pine treePinus torreyana.

Pinus torreyana

One of the rarest pine trees in the nation—Pinus torreyana—can only be found thriving in two locations: Torrey Pines SNR and in Santa Rosa, California. [Image: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/]

Torrey Pines is considered a fragile ecosystem. Rigorous preservation efforts have been expended to conserve this natural habitat. It is a popular place of refuge to a large waterfowl population as well as the mule and black-tailed deer. As it is an undeveloped area, it is privy to erosion. An example of this can seen through the Broken Hill, a huge, rugged geological wonder overlooking the ocean.

Broken Hill

Broken Hill provides an ideal place to hike for outdoor enthusiasts. Its impressive location offers an outstanding view of the ocean and lower La Jolla. [Image: http://media.sdreader.com/]

Crags of rock interlock to create a geologic sight prime for sightseeing within the park. For adventurers, Torrey Pines is a small trip to the wildness away from urban life. Its sensitive ecosystem that’s being carefully reserved features cliffs and ravines overlooking the seas. Activities available within the park include swimming at the beach, hiking, interpretive programs, and wildlife watching.

Torrey Pines overlooking the sea

Torrey Pines towering over the sea. It is easy to see how it stirs wanderlust among adventurers. [Image: http://s3-media2.fl.yelpcdn.com/]

It is highly encouraged to check with Torrey Pines SNR website regarding the rules and regulations applicable within the area. As it is a natural area, regulations are carefully placed to avoid any unnecessary disruptions to its ecological system.

California is one of the most urbanized cities in the United States, so state natural reserves are carefully cherished and taken care of to preserve the natural beauty that’s in danger of ever-expanding civilization. It is a great place to relax, think, and be away from the hustle and bustle of the city as well as get in touch with nature and its profound views.

If you’re thinking of visiting one of these SNR’s, let us help you! Our California State Parks app contains the most updated information for this park and can be found in the Apple and Google Play stores. Download now, and take advantage of the warm winter days this December to observe nature at its best in one of these parks!

Autumn and Accessible Trails

Autumn lends itself to outdoor adventure across much of the United States. The leaves are aflame, the air has become tinged with earthiness and the scent of woodsmoke, the mosquito population has dwindled, and it’s finally cool enough to be out and about in the middle of the day. In fact, with sweaters donned and knitted caps freshly retrieved from storage, it simply feels fantastic to be outside. With this in mind, coupled with the spirit of the 25th year of the Americans with Disabilities Act, now seems like the perfect time to highlight some trails that are accessible to nature lovers who happen to use wheelchairs or other adaptive equipment. These trails were chosen for their paved or highly compacted surfaces.

Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes—Mullan, ID

view of lake surrounded by trees at the accessible Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes

One of the many lovely vistas offered along the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes.
[Image: http://taimages.railstotrails.org]

This 72-mile trail is paved for its entirety, offering 20 developed trailheads and 17 wayside stations for rest, rehydration, or a scenic picnic between Mullan and Plummer, ID. The trail is accessible for persons who use wheelchairs as well as runners, cyclists, in-line skaters, and even the occasional moose.

Call (208) 682-3814 for more information.

Cumberland County Biker/Hiker Trail—Gardners, PA

The Cumberland County Biker/Hiker Trail is two paved miles along some of Pennsylvania’s Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The park is notable for being the approximate middle point of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Travelers will enjoy proximity to two lakes, the Michaux State Forest, and all the charms and wiles that make the Appalachian Trail one of America’s most beloved outdoor destinations. If you are looking to combine a jaunt into nature and some family-oriented fun, the park’s 7th Annual Fall Furnace Festival is on Saturday, October 17th and Sunday, October 18th.

Call (717) 486-7174 for more information. 

Paseo del Bosque Trail—Albuquerque, NM

Paseo del Bosque Trail is a 16-mile paved, rather level pathway through Rio Grande Valley State Park in the heart of Albuquerque. The trail offers a unique and brilliant Southwestern beauty with a dash of autumn color in the leaves of the numerous cottonwoods that line the Rio Grande River. But visitors should seize this opportunity soon—predictions are that the peak color changes are already taking hold!

Call (505) 452-5200 for more information.

Bearskin State Park Trail—Minocqua, WI

Flat and accessible.

Some autumn foliage on Bearskin Trail. [Image: http://www.erikgrinde.com]

Bearskin State Park Trail boasts the best of Wisconsin’s Northwoods and journeys through an area with one of the densest concentration of lakes in the world. The trail runs for 18 miles on a fine, hard, compacted granite that should prove a winning surface for people operating a wheelchair. An encounter with this trail is a delight for outdoor enthusiasts year-round.

Call (715) 536-8773 for more information.

While these are just a few examples, it holds that diversity and mindful inclusion are what make America such a wonderful place to live, work, and play. Our state parks reflect that wonder naturally, especially as we continue to grow toward better inclusion for people of all abilities. For more information on state parks near you, check out our Pocket Ranger® apps, or for wheelchair- and otherwise ADA-accessible trails and parks, please explore the following resources:

A List of Wheelchair-Accessible Trails by State

Information on ADA-Accessibility and Trails

Fees, permits, and reservations may apply. Visitors should check with their local park or trail organizers to be sure of a pathway’s accessibility before embarking.

Related articles

Access Granted: State Parks Turn Disabilities into Abilities

(Image: http://www.floridastateparks.org/accessforall/accommodationrequest.cfm)

[Image: www.floridastateparks.org]

When we think of visiting state parks, we think of popular activities such as swimming, hiking, biking and camping. We don’t usually think about people with disabilities and how they, too, can enjoy visiting parks. State and national parks across the country are equipped with handicapped accessible facilities that provide access to areas for all to enjoy.

Among America’s parks, we’ll highlight the state of Florida and the strides they’ve made in providing everything from accessible restrooms to accessible cabins and beaches.

Florida offers a myriad of features that allow people to turn their disabilities into abilities. The state says its park system is committed to offering as many accessible facilities as possible to its visitors.

A team builds an accessible ramp at Florida’s Topsail Hill Preserve State Park.
[Image: www.nwfdailynews.com]

Florida parks that offer wheelchair ramps are Boca Grande Lighthouse at Gasparilla Island State Park and Eden Gardens State Park. Sign language interpreters can be provided upon request. In addition, many parks with video programs offer an open-captioned version as well as transcribed copies of audio programs for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Wakulla Springs State Park both offer wheelchair accessible boat tours, while Wakulla offers accessible lodges. These amenities are available upon prior request.

Cabin_Ozark_State_Park

An accessible cabin in Lake of the Ozark State Park.
[Image: www.mostateparks.com]

If you’re thinking about hiking, Withlacoochee Trail State Park and Nature Coast Trail State Park in North Florida offer level surface trails which makes it easy for motorized and non-motorized vehicles. The trails take you through peaceful, rural areas with great scenic views. Some parts of Nature Coast State Trail go over the historic trestle bridge on the Suwannee River. Motorized wheelchairs and other personal mobility devices are permitted on these trails, which are paved.

Most state and national parks have some type of accessible trail, and offer various handicap accessible features. To find out which state parks in your area are handicapped accessible, download the Pocket Ranger app for your state or call the park’s main office.