A new option for people with mobility disabilities to explore some of Minnesota's state parks went live this week.
Starting Thursday, visitors with mobility disabilities can use an off-road, all-terrain track chair or an adaptive beach chair at five state parks throughout the state. They will be available at the following locations:
- Camden State Park - Lynd, Minnesota
- Crow Wing State Park - Brainerd, Minnesota
- Lake Bemidji State Park - Bemidji, Minnesota (available mid-June)
- Maplewood State Park - Pelican Rapids, Minnesota (not available until late summer/early fall)
- Myre-Big Island State Park - Albert Lea, MN
The chairs are free to use for exploring non-accessible trails and other areas within the state parks. Vehicle permits still need to be purchased to park at the state parks, however, discounted permits are available if you have a vehicle tag for a disability.
“We know spending time in nature provides significant health and wellness benefits to people,” Minnesota Council of Disability Executive Director David Dively said in a press release.
"Providing adaptive equipment like the track chairs for visitors to use is critical to ensuring all Minnesotans have access to these outdoor opportunities and furthers our work to ensure Minnesotans with disabilities can live, work, and play in the communities they choose."
According to the DNR, one in four people in the United States are living with a form of disability.
Recently, other similar all-terrain chairs for people with disabilities has made their debuts in other states, such as Georgia and Michigan. Some National Parks have also been recognized for being the most accessible in the country.
Adaptive equipment is already available for use in state and national parks. An adaptive beach chair is available to use at McCarthy Beach State Park, located in Side Lake, Minnesota.
The chairs were brought to state parks through a partnership of local governments, the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Council on Disability.
To make a reservation to use one of the chairs, you can do it here.