For each destination I visit, whether it be a state or national park, landmark, city, or attraction, I’ll be writing a summary of my experience and sharing photographs, general information, and a few notes on accessibility.
An “accessible” environment meets the needs of all visitors, allowing all visitors to access and experience the environment, including visitors who use wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, or other adaptive equipment. Think doorways that are wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through or walkways and trails that have a surface hard and even enough for a person with a walker or wheelchair to navigate. Accessibility is so important because it helps give people of all abilities the opportunity to visit the same places, see the same things, and have the same experiences as everyone else. We should all be able to marvel at sight of Yosemite’s majestic mountains or snag a front row view of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, right?
I think everyone should care about accessibility- and so even though I am just one small voice and writing one small blog, I want to talk about how the destinations I’ve visited can be enjoyed by everyone. I hope to become more familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and learn more about accessibility through my experiences.
Without further ado, the first destination I’m covering is Abilene State Park.
For our maiden voyage on our year-long traveling journey, we hitched up and headed to Abilene, Texas where we set up camp in Abilene State Park. We wanted a chance to slow down and get into the camping vibe- Abilene State Park delivered. Our campsite was peaceful and offered a lot more shade and privacy than the busy Austin RV park where we had been living for 3 months. Using the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s website, we reserved a site with full hookups in advance. For those who aren’t familiar with RV lingo, a full hookup site is one equipped with fresh water, electricity, and sewer connections.
Our site was in the park’s Oak Grove Camping Loop. Here campsites are shaded with trees and each offers a picnic table, fire ring, fresh water, and 30-amp/20-amp electrical service. Three of the sites also offer sewer connections. As we backed our trailer in we were welcomed by our new neighbor, an armadillo.
One of the goals we set for our for our journey is get into better shape. Though living in Austin was an awesome experience, we both gained weight and found ourselves in the worst shape of our lives (I’ll write more on this later). To work towards our goal, we decided to begin each morning with yoga or strength training and follow with a hike or bike ride.
Abilene State Park turned out to be the perfect venue to get started on our new fitness routine. Taking advantage of cooler temperatures in the mornings, we set up our yoga mats under our awning and played relaxation music through the outdoor speakers on our trailer (at a very low volume as not to disturb anyone, of course).During our stay, we felt like we had the park all to ourselves. We rarely ran into folks on the hiking or biking trails and visitors to neighboring campsites were friendly and quiet. My favorite visitors were the deer. In the afternoons we watched deer lounging and grazing in the grass behind our campsite. We were also visited by rabbits, squirrels, birds, and armadillos.In addition to its RV camping sites, the park has tent camping sites, shelters, and yurts available. There are few short trails for hiking and biking, including a wheelchair accessible trail (more on accessibility below), and a bird blind for birdwatching. There’s also a catch and release fishing pond, group building, and swimming pool. The entrance fee to the park includes access to nearby Lake Abilene where visitors can rent kayaks or canoes, hike or bike around the lake, go fishing, or enjoy lunch at one of the picnic tables.
Abilene State Park offers a few ADA accommodations, including accessible parking, restrooms and showers, hiking, and swimming. The roadways throughout the park are all paved and meander through grass and trees. We enjoyed biking and walking the paved roads as much as we enjoyed the hiking trails and saw many visitors doing the same with dogs or children.The park’s ADA restrooms and showers are located in the Oak Grove camping area, near the yurts, shelters, and RV camping sites. Restrooms and showers were spacious and clean.
The Eagle Trail is a quarter of a mile long and parking is available at the Wagon Circle trail entrance. Thank you for your work on the Eagle Trail, Boy Scouts! There are a few benches scattered along the trail. Although the park’s Eagle Trail is the only ADA accessible trail, I saw a person using a scooter on the Bird Trail which leads to the bird blind. The bird blind is equipped with a ramp, but accessing the bird blind in a wheelchair or scooter may be a tight squeeze and the view may be partially obstructed due to the height of the window. Most of the park’s trails are scenic and short, with the longest trail being only .29 miles long. A longer trail (3.47 miles) is available on the neighboring Lake Abilene property. Most trails within the park are also wide, free of large rocks or potholes, with gravel surfaces or dirt that’s hard when dry. Buffalo Wallow and the fishing deck can be accessed from the Eagle Trail where it intersects with the Elm Creek Nature Trail.
The park’s swimming pool opens on Memorial Day weekend each year and park staff assured me the pool is equipped with a lift.
Thanks for reading!