Dear Editor,

Having recently returned from our family vacation at Mt. Lassen Volcanic National Park, I felt I needed to report on the lack of wheelchair accessibility in the campgrounds and at the trailheads.

We’ve always loved to camp and didn’t want the fact that I have MS and use a wheelchair to cramp our style, so we decided to take our two teenage kids back to Mt. Lassen, where we visited ten years ago when they were very little and before I had MS. I got my Golden Access Pass at the gate which allows me and whomever I am with lifelong, free admission into National Parks and a 50% discount on camping fees. Very cool! We then proceeded to Manzanita Lake campground which publicized accessibility.

The setting is so beautiful and most of the campsites are quite spacious and private, although sloped and difficult to maneuver in due to the thick dirt covering most of them. The bathrooms are NOT wheelchair accessible, having a 6 inch step up into them, narrow doorways, no large stalls and no handrails. The bathrooms have clearly not been upgraded or renovated. I never did find the publicized accessible bathroom. The only way I could use the bathroom at our campground was if my husband or teenage son took me into the bathroom. Not great for me or other females using the facilities. The campground in general needs some attention; clearly the roads and campsites have not been maintained, sporting large potholes and missing pavement.

The accessible portables at the Bumpass Hell trailhead were indeed new, modern portable pit toilets with handrails, but they put them on a rise covered with large gravel that was impossible for me to get through myself and nearly impossible for even my husband to pull me through backwards. Who is responsible for designing these facilities? And how can they possibly think that they are satisfying the needs of the disabled? They should have to get into a chair themselves and test their designs before they are approved.

Even though Mt. Lassen is a beautiful and quite fascinating park, it was, all in all, a very disappointing and uncomfortable trip, and I’m afraid I won’t be going back any time soon.

Do you know how I can contact the Director of our National Park system? Perhaps money should be spent on bringing our older parks up to date and into compliance with the ADA before new ones are built.

Nancy Dunbar

That’s a real shame about your trip. Actually, the same lack of accessibility exists even at some of our better known National Parks. The National Park Service Director is Robert Stanton. He can be reached (maybe) at: Robert Stanton, Director, National Park Service, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240. Phone: (202) 208-6843.

Another place to register a complaint is with the Department of Justice. The address is: Disability Rights Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, Post Office Box 66738, Washington, DC 20035-6738.

Don’t let this experience stop you from camping in the future. You can learn about two great camping locations on our site. The first is Friends Landing in Washington state (see Destinations article), and the second is Wilderness on Wheels in Colorado (see our Links page in the Resource Site). Happy trails!