Arizona's Enriching, Accessible Vacations
Cacti and desert landscapes aren't the only spectacular sights to be found in Arizona--it's also full of wheelchair accessible attractions!
The Grand Canyon's beauty is almost indescribable! Your senses will be overwhelmed with magnificent landscapes full of brilliant colors and shapes. Designated as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, it's no surprise that more than five million people visit the Grand Canyon each year!
The decorative colors and erosional forms make up the 277 miles of canyon, which is 18 miles wide, and a mile deep! Take your wheelchair van to the South Rim, which is the most accessible part of the park, especially for visitors who want drive their own vehicles to overlook the rim. The South Rim also houses a variety of museums and informational centers.
You can take a South Rim shuttle bus, which are equipped with ramps and space for wheelchairs, to various locations within the canyon. However, the shuttles can't fit wheelchairs that are larger than 30 in. wide by 48 in. long, and also be aware that most motorized scooters cannot be accommodated by the bus. There are many wheelchair accessible trails within the canyon--check out the canyon's accessibility pamphlet, which has maps of all the wheelchair accessible trails, restrooms, scenic views, and everything you need to know regarding accessibility!
Saguaro National Park, Tucson
When you think about Arizona, what comes to mind? Maybe deserts or perhaps cacti? The Saguaro National Park is home to the Sonaran desert and North America's largest cacti! View the wondrous plants and their stunning habitat in the 500 square miles that make up Tucson.
The abundant amount of saguaro cactus found in the park create a cacti forest (which only grow in Arizona)! The tree-sized cactus can live up to 250 years! The cactus blooms elegant waxy flowers, which are also Arizona's state flower. (The flowers bloom late May-July.) The park is broken into east and west districts, which are separated by the city of Tucson. You are only charged the entrance fee once and can migrate to and from both locations. Take advantage of the ranger-led guided tours. There are wheelchair accessible tours, but it's best to make sure one is available before you visit.
Crescent Moon Ranch, Sedona
The red rocks are one of the many brilliant landforms that Arizona showcases. However, because of rough terrain they can be difficult to see for a wheelchair traveler. The Crescent Moon Ranch (part of the Coconino National Forest) has a concrete walkway that goes throughout the park, where you can see the magnificent views of the famous Red Rock known as Cathedral Rock. Oak Creek flows through the park and adds to the already magnificent scenery. Relax at the picnic area, and appreciate the gorgeous landscapes.
Remember, it's best not to travel alone. Although the walkways are wheelchair accessible, there's always a possibility that you might need assistance. Besides, it's more fun to share new experiences and breathtaking views with others!
Heard Museum, Phoenix
View some of the world's best American Indian art and learn about the culture behind it at the Heard Museum! The museum was founded in 1929 and has continued to grow ever since! See how the Heard uses beautiful artworks to tell American Indian stories.
The collections includes more than 40,000 pieces, from baskets, beadwork, fine art, jewelry, and pottery, to vibrantly colored textiles! There are occasional native guest artists who present and demonstrate their own personal American Indian art. Interactive activities allow visitors to weave beads on an oversize loom, create paper flowers, make Apache burden baskets and more! Grab a Southwest-inspired meal made from locally-grown fresh ingredients at the Courtyard Cafe.
The Heard Museum is wheelchair accessible with ramps, elevators, and a chair lift. Manual wheelchairs are available for rent.
Desert Belle Cruise, Saguaro Lake
See Arizona wildlife, canyons, desert vistas, and Saguaro Lake from a unique perspective on the Desert Belle Cruise. The narrated 90 minute tour is packed full of majestic views. Relax, learn, and be entertained--what could be better than that?!
Keep on the lookout for ring-tailed cats, bobcats, mountain lions, coyotes, javelina, bighorn sheep, and deer! The tour is full of rich scenery with different types of cacti, mesquite, ironwood, and Arizona's state tree--the Palo Verde. You can even choose to take a music cruise! Take a look at the special events page for further details!
The marina is accessible by ramps. The boat has two levels; the lower level is air-conditioned and equipped with wheelchair accessible restrooms and a grab bar.
Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium, Litchfield
The Wildlife World Zoo houses Arizona's largest collection of exotic animals! More than 2,400 animals call this zoo their home and represent approximately 350 species.
Feed Lory parrots and Turaco birds! Kids can feed axis deer, baby goats, and chickens at the Children's Petting Zoo. As for adults, your inner child can participate too! Wildlife Encounter demonstrates natural behaviors of wildlife. See giant reptiles at Dragon World! You'll want to take the adorable young animals home with you at the Baby Animal Nursery--they will tug at your heart! See creepy-crawly insects and lizards at Tropics of the World Reptiles, and the rarest reptile of them all, the albino alligator! Check out the itsy-bitsy animals at the Small Mammals of the World exhibit.
There's much to see and do at the Wildlife World Zoo, and it's wheelchair accessible.
Tempe Center for the Arts, Tempe
The Tempe Center for the Arts isn't just a venue, it's an architectural masterpiece! The state-of-the-art facility includes a 600-seat proscenium theater, a 200-seat studio theater, a 3,500 square-foot gallery, and a 17-acre art park! Not only is the center impressive, but the view of Tempe Town Lake, Rio Salado, and the Papago Mountains enhance the already gorgeous atmosphere!
The gallery features two and three-dimensional artworks by local and internationally recognized artists. Outside of the gallery, check out the 5,700-square foot sculpture garden! Take a breather at the Tempe Garden Club Pavilion, or explore the beautiful landscape on lakeside paths that intertwine with Rio Salado. And of course, enjoy spectacular performances! Local favorites include Childs Play, Tempe Little Theater, the Tempe Symphony Orchestra, the Tempe Community Chorus, A. Ludwig Dance, Desert Dance, and the Arizona Wind Symphony.
The center is wheelchair accessible! All information regarding accessibility can be found here.
Biosphere 2, Tucson
Biosphere was named one of the 50 must-see "Wonders of the World" by Time Life Books! You'll find yourself in the midst of research about the future of our planet and its existence in a delicately designed mini-world!
The re-invented Biomes create an unforgettable experience! You will be greeted by an interpretive specialist and led into an experience of a lifetime! On the tour you'll see a custom-built ocean with a real coral reef and a tropical Rainforest up close, journey into a coastal fog desert and get in touch with oddities of nature. The tropical rainforest is home to over 150 species of plants, some reaching up to 60 feet tall! The interpretive specialist will take you into the "technosphere", where the lungs that were used to keep the air pressure moderate are located. The craziest part about all of this is, it's all indoors!
The Biosphere 2 is mostly wheelchair accessible. Make sure to call a few days ahead of time to schedule a modified tour! If you are using a manual wheelchair, you will need assistance. The cost of the modified ADA tour is $25.00 per person.
Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix
The Desert Botanical Garden provides a place of research, exhibits, and design to help visitors understand the importance of nature and how to protect and preserve its natural beauty. The outdoor exhibits houses more than 50,000 awe-inspiring plants, emphasizing desert plants and the Southwestern hemisphere of the United States!
Upon arrival you will find yourself in the Ottosen Entry Garden--from there you can begin your excursion with the Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Loop Trail or the Desert Discovery Loop Trail. The Maxwell trail highlights desert wildflowers and their pollinators. The Desert Discovery Loop Trail is the garden's main trail, which features an exquisite array of cacti and succulent plants. Along this trail you will come across the Sybil B. Harlington Cactus and Succulent Galleries, the Berlin Agave Yucca Forest, the seasonal butterfly exhibits in the Marshall Butterfly Pavillion, Plants and People of the Sonaran Desert Loop Trail exhibit, the Sonaran Desert Nature Loop Trail, and the Center for Desert Living!
Wheelchairs can be rented free of charge, as well as electric scooters for a fee. The Botanical Garden is wheelchair accessible!
Scottsdale ArtWalk, Scottsdale
Every Thursday night from 7pm to 9pm (except for Thanksgiving) many of the 100 art galleries in Scottsdale open their doors to the general public to show off work by talented Southwest artists! Make a night of it and explore at your own pace, wander into galleries, shop, listen to live music, grab a delicious dinner, and see the delightful town of Scottsdale!
The event is pretty simple--show up and have a good time! And yes, it is wheelchair accessible.
Despite the unique landscapes and terrain of Arizona, there is still an exuberant amount of wheelchair accessible attractions. Get ready to be blown away by breathtaking views!