Thanks to the Florida State Park Foundation ‘Access for All’ Program, visitors with mobility issues can now enjoy all of the amazing things to do and see at Florida’s beautiful state parks
For All to Enjoy
The Florida State Park Foundation believes everyone who visits a Florida state park should have the most beneficial and enjoyable experience possible, regardless of their physical disability.
Imagine taking a sunrise walk on the beach for the first time, or experiencing the undersea world of a colorful coral reef or crystal clear spring, cruising through a pristine mangrove swamp, or taking an adventurous hike through beautiful wooded trails. These experiences and more are available through new accessibility features in state parks throughout Florida. A number of innovative advances have been made recently to allow people with disabilities unprecedented access to the great Florida outdoors, including all-terrain power wheelchairs and beach wheelchairs able to handle rugged trails and deep sand, roll out matting that transforms a sandy beach into a flat stable easily traversed path, wheelchair accessible fishing piers, glass-bottom boats and tour boats, trams and more. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park even has a special wheelchair with pontoon-like sides that can go on the beach and in the water! Through a variety of partnerships, the Foundation has worked to provide 52 beach wheelchairs at every state park along Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coasts, as well as floating wheelchairs at some of the state’s most popular coastal parks. These amenities are available to visitors free of charge with assistance by park staff and volunteers; however reservations may be required. Not all Florida state parks offer these amenities, so be sure to check before planning your trip.
Florida’s Great Nature is Now Within Reach!
Below are a few of Florida’s most popular state parks with accessible amenities. If you’re a Florida resident, start packing the van! If you’re from out of state, it’s time to plan that perfect Florida vacation!
Seminole State Forest, Lake County, Florida
Thanks to assistance from the the Friends of Seminole State Forest (FSSF), the Seminole State Forest outside of Orlando is the first, in the entire 38 state forest system, to implement a Tracked Chair Program for the mobility impaired. Use of the Tracked Chair is free of charge. A self-serve station is located at the Bear Pond Trailhead. The day-use entrance fee is $2.00 and can also be paid by calling 1-877-879-3859.Trips are offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 am and 1 pm, excluding holidays. The distinctive characteristic of the Seminole State Forest is its ecological diversity which includes almost all of the naturally occurring vegetative communities found in Central Florida. There are more than 17 different natural communities, each with unique plants, animals, and physical characteristics. A few examples are flatwoods, scrub, hydric hammock, and sandhill. The scrub provides an important habitat for many rare and threatened species such as the Florida black bear and scrub-jay. There are also 18 named springs throughout the forest. CLICK HERE for more information.
Silver Springs State Park, Silver Springs, Florida
The Florida State Parks Foundation commissioned the design of the first wheelchair accessible glass-bottom boat to view Florida’s famous crystal clear Silver Springs. The 37-foot vessel features a flat deck and spacious aisles for easy and convenient access for mobility assistive devices. The boat is also equipped with an induction-loop system that helps passengers using hearing aids to listen to the captain’s narration. CLICK HERE for more information.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo, Florida
Imagine looking through clear blue water to observe massive reef systems of swaying coral and schools of colorful fish! This is a highlight at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo. It’s the first undersea state park in the country, created to protect the only living coral reef in the continental United States. A wheelchair-accessible glass-bottom boat will take you to an expansive network of offshore reefs where you might also encounter turtles and dolphins. CLICK HERE for more information.
Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound, Florida
Take a ride on a pontoon boat on the wild and scenic Loxahatchee River to see an historic trapper’s cabin, learn about a secret World War II training camp or spot bald eagles from a nature trail. It’s all waiting at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. There is also an off-road power wheelchair to explore miles of pristine trails and an accessible furnished cabin in the park’s campground to truly immerse yourself in the experience. More than 150 bird species have been seen at the park, so don’t forget your binoculars. From the paved two-mile multi-use trail, you might spot sandy cranes, deer, alligators and bald eagles. CLICK HERE for more information.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne, Florida
Just 15 minutes past glitzy downtown Miami, on the southern tip of Key Biscayne, is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Perhaps best known for the 1825 lighthouse jutting from its landscape, the park has world-class beaches, open-air dining and spectacular views. The park offers two beach wheelchairs and two swimming wheelchairs with floating armrests. They are available at no charge on a first-come, first-served basis at the bicycle rental area inside the park. A Mobi Mat is located at Beach Access No. 6 next to the Lighthouse Café. If you want to be one with nature, take advantage of the beautiful paved multi-use path shaded by native plants winding throughout the middle of the park where you might encounter some of the more than 260 species of native birds. And if you’re all about the views, a flat, hard-packed sand trail along Biscayne Bay will treat you to scenes of boaters, jet-skis and Biscayne Bay’s famous Stiltsville off in the distance. CLICK HERE for more information.
Sources: Florida State Parks Foundation, Friends of Seminole State Forest, Visit Florida
Let Us Know How We Can Help
If you have a medical condition that requires assistance to travel, our experienced team at TransMedCare is here to help. Go to our convenient Get a Quote form or call 888-984-3722.