Yosemite Ramps Up Access


Sometimes the travel gods do indeed smile down upon you. Such was the case on Monday when we traveled to Yosemite for the dedication of the new Yosemite Falls Restoration Project. It was a beautiful spring day and the falls were magnificent. With all the rain this year, they will truly be spectacular come mid-May.

But the weather is not really the big story here. The big story here is access; or should I say improved access to of one of Yosemite’s major attractions. Prior to the Yosemite Falls Restoration Project, it was darn near impossible for wheelchair-users to get to the base of lower Yosemite Falls.

Previously, an unattractive trail led in from the parking lot and then abruptly turned up towards the base of the falls. The second part of the trail was steep and slick. If by some miracle you made it past the steep area, you then had to maneuver through a deadly patch of gravel before you could push on to the falls. Most wheelchair-users never made it.

But let’s not dwell on the past. Today those access obstacles have been removed and a nicely accessible trail leads to the east side of Lower Yosemite Falls. Not only is it accessible, it’s also very aesthetically pleasing. New bathrooms and a new shuttle bus shelter top of this massive renovation project.

I wasn’t the only one impressed with the access. I had a chance to chat with Mark Wellman before the ceremony and he was equally jazzed. In fact, he told me he just led a group of wheelchair-users up the new trail and he was very pleased with the access improvements.

I’ll have photos and more details about this exciting new project in the Summer issue of Emerging Horizons; however the best way to see what they’ve done at Yosemite Falls is to experience it for yourself!

As a lifelong visitor to Yosemite, I feel you haven’t really experienced the park until you’ve felt the spray of Yosemite Falls on your face. Now everyone can have that up-close-and personal experience. And that’s what universal design is all about.