Monday, March 4, 2024

Road Trip with a Wheelchair: Little Car in the Big Woods and on the Prairie and in the Foothills

Farms in the trees gave way to …

… farms on the prairie 

After crossing the border at Sault Ste Marie, we began a real road trip within the road trip, covering over 2000 miles in a little over 2 weeks.  

Gran Dad’s Bluff
Lacrosse, WI
(Mississippi River Overlook)
In Wisconsin and Minnesota, we visited dozens of family and friends, during trips to accessible Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Rib Mt and the Wisconsin River in Wausau, Grad Dad’s Bluff in La Crosse, Marieke’s Gouda Cheese Factory in Thorp and to the not very accessible Stone Hill Park in Canby. 

We drove as quickly as possible through SD in order to avoid the extreme heat, stopping only for a cold drink at a very accessible Wall Drug.  

Black Hills, SD
On the other (Western) side of Sturgis, where the Harley Davidsons were gathering for their annual rally, we went for a sunset drive around the Wildlife Loop at Custer State Park in the Black Hills.

Pronghorn antelope
In Custer State Park
We only saw 2 bison from the herds for which this park is famous, but we encountered lots of other wildlife on our mini-safari, including 2 beautiful pronghorn antelopes.

Devil’s Tower,WY
Our first stop in Wyoming was Devil’s Tower National Monument.  With the five iconic musical notes from “Close Encounters” playing in our heads, we took the detour to see what the fuss was all about.

Trailhead up
 Devil’s Tower

The paved parking lot has several disabled parking spots in various places. Curb cuts are not everywhere and sometimes hard to find or not where needed. So, it makes sense to park in the highest lot near the trailhead if going up the trail, and park lower near the visitors center, if just going there. The visitors center, restrooms, vault toilets, and drinking fountain are all accessible.

Accessible lower trail
to Devil’s Tower

The trail from the parking lot to Devil's Tower is accessible and feasible up to the observation area with benches, although the steep slope is difficult for manual chairs.  

 Non-accessible trail
above observation
After the observation area, the trail gets even steeper and the cross slope gets worse, but you could go up a little ways, until you come to benches and signs. Beyond that, the trail is very steep and sometimes narrow, with challenging cross slope. The view at any level is spectacular, and the trip was worth it for the nostalgia of mashed potatoes and “Close Encounters.”

Econolodge in Chamberlain, SD
Along the way we found several nice ADA rooms in hotels: The Holiday Inn in La Crosse, WI had a king bed and roll-in shower.  The Econolodge in Oacoma, SD had a king bed and a bathroom with a shower/tub combination and lots of grab bars (very nice, if you could squeeze through the narrow aisle sided by the bed in order to get there).  

Day’s Inn in 
Worland, WY

Before entering Yellowstone from the east, we stayed overnight at the Day's Inn in Worland, where our room and the motel were accessible according to all ADA criteria, and the staff was extremely helpful and friendly.

After Devil’s Monument, the hills became mountains became higher.  We rode through the canyons, ending up in the mountains near the border with Montana and Idaho.

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