Utah Is Wheelchair Accessible for U!

If you've seen the movies Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Forrest Gump, Footloose, 2001: A Space Odyssey, you've already seen a bit of Utah. Those and many other famous films have used Utah as a backdrop. If you watched those movies on television, thank Utah native Philo T. Farnsworth—he invented it! As a matter of fact, the real Butch Cassidy and Philo Farnsworth were both born in Beaver, Utah. But let's talk wheelchair accessibility—Utah's got it, and your Beehive State vacation awaits!

Splore, Salt Lake City

whitewater-raftingFor the adventurous among you, start with Splore, and get in touch with them while you're planning your Utah vacation. Splore offers Utah's residents and visitors with mental and physical disabilities exciting, adaptive adventures in every season. Spend a day whitewater rafting, canoeing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and climbing, both indoor and outdoor. The staff has mastered the management of risk during these adventures so that "every Splore participant feels dignified and empowered.

They host these adventures in beautiful locations throughout the state. You can raft down Westwater Canyon, climb a rock in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and go back-country skiing in the Uinta Mountains. Undecided if this is for you? Here's one participant's testimonial: I got to the top of the climb and I cried. I’m 75 years old and I didn’t know I could still do that. Check out their web site. It just may make you want to get out there and play!

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Salt Lake City

mormon-tabernaclePerhaps the most well-known choir on the planet, the 360-member Mormon Tabernacle Choir has been expressing their faith in song for more than a century. Sometimes referred to as "America's Choir," the all-volunteer group has performed at presidential inaugurations, World's Fairs, on television, and worldwide on almost every continent. On most Sundays at 9:30 AM, you can catch the broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word on Temple Square, which is the most popular attraction in Utah. Admission is free, and you must be at least eight years old.

If you can't make a Sunday service, take in a Thursday night rehearsal in the Conference Center from 7:30 to 9:30 PM. The choir might not be wearing robes as they would during a service, and their music will be just as wonderful. You won't need tickets for the rehearsal either, though it's highly recommended you check the calendar on their web site to make sure a recording session or off-site performance isn't scheduled the night you want to attend. It's also helpful to give them a call before you go to let them know they'll be having a guest in a wheelchair. Get ready for some heavenly sounds!

Family History Center, Salt Lake City

family-historyCurious about your ancestry? Here's the place to dig up the roots of your family tree. Not far from the Mormon Tabernacle and Temple Square, you'll find the Family History Center, which is the largest genalogical library in the world. The center has copies of millions of original records with the names of more than two billion deceased people. Originally founded in 1984 to assist Mormon church members with their family history, the Center is now open to the public, and you can trace your family's beginnings at no charge.

Records have been acquired from more than 110 countries, territories, and possessions, and the more than 400 full-time, part-time, and volunteer staff are there to help facilitate your use of the Center's resource of film, books, and records, all kept in climate- and lighting-controlled environments for preservation. You just might return home from your Utah vacation with some fascinating family facts!

Rocky Mountain Raceways, West Valley City

motocross-racing

Auto racing fans will already be familiar with Utah's famed Bonneville Salt Flats— legendary in the world of auto racing. The long expansion of hard salt surface is conducive to top speeds, attracting international racers who have broken land speed records here for decades.

Previously known as Bonneville Raceways, the track was purchased in 1995 and remodeled by the new owner to continue Utah's storied racing tradition. Though you won't see mobility vans speeding around the track anytime soon, wheelchair-accessible Rocky Mountain Raceways offer thrills and chills with drag races, motocross, and stock car racing all summer long. As always, you should check their schedule for events well in advance of your visit.

Zion National Park, Springdale

zion-national-parkSpeaking of mobility vans, it would be awesome to have one handy when you visit Utah, because the state has several spectacular national parks that shouldn't be missed. Zion is Utah's oldest national park, best known for its breathtaking canyons and unforgettable views. Time, water, and erosion have made Bryce Canyon, with its distinctive, towering rock formations, a sight to behold, and it's just a 45-minute drive between the two parks.

Canyonlands National Park, in southeastern Utah near Moab, is divided into four districts with cool names like Island in the Sky, the Needles, the Maze, and Horseshoe Canyon, though there are no roads that connect them, and it may take as much as six hours to get from one district to the other. The good news is—the scenery is more than well-worth the drive. Some of the rock art in Horseshoe Canyon was painted over 3,000 years ago. You'll marvel at Mother Nature and what a few million years of water and wind erosion can do to our planet!

Crandall Historical Printing Museum, Provo

printing-press

Let's see what you find in the most advanced museum of its kind—in the world! In fact, no other museum in the world can boast a fully functioning, authentic Gutenberg Press, accompanied by a complete set of authentic movable type. Printing was the world's first mass-produced process, and TIME magazine journalist Paul Gray called it "the greatest extension of human consiousness ever created. leading to Gutenberg's designation as "Man of the Millennium."

Through hands-on, live demonstrations of actual historic printing presses and original historic documents, you'll discover the role the written and printed word has played in civilization and our history. Travel through time, beginning with the first writing implements all the way to today's mass communication. Avid readers are sure to find this history-rich, wheelchair accessible museum one for the books!

Bridal Veil Falls, Provo

waterfall

Just a few minutes from downtown Provo, Bridal Veil Falls cascades down 607 feet of rock, making it the highest waterfall in Utah. It's also considered one of the most spectacular in the western US. These falls fall into the "double cataract" category. "Cataract" means it's a large, powerful waterfall, which means Bridal Veil Falls is doubly large and powerful. Completely stroller and wheelchair accessible, the base of the falls has a lovely, shallow pool and a paved path to give you access to an awe-inspiring view. Word has it you can get close enough to the falls to need rain gear.

 

Bridal Veil Falls is often recognized as one of America's Top 100 waterfalls, but there's more to experience than just the falls. The surrounding area is very inviting. Bring a picnic lunch. You'll find grills and picnic tables underneath a nearby canopy of trees. Relax. Listen to the bubble and flow of the adjacent river, and spend an afternoon immersed in sheer delight.

Gardner Village, West Jordan

gardner-village

History and shopping go hand in hand at Gardner Village, and all of it—shops, restaurants, and the charming surroundings—are wheelchair accessible. Browse specialty shops like Aunt Elsie's Trinkets, the Village Quilt Shop, the Bead Farm, Vintage Chic, and Sweet Afton's Candy, or enjoy a meal at Archibald's Restaurant, named for Archibald Gardner, the man who built the flour mill and a name for himself in this location more than 130 years ago.

The restaurant is actually in the old Gardner Mill, which is listed on the National Historic Register, and the waterwheel is still part of the building. Shops are housed in restored cabins and other buildings from days gone by, so you'll see vintage pioneer architecture, antique fixtures, red-brick paths and bridges over a pond. Take a camera.

Treehouse Museum, Ogden

kids-interactive-museum

This refreshing take on a hands-on museum for kids has nothing to do with science. Instead, the museum invites visitors to "Step into a Story," focusing on stories from around the world, literacy, the arts, history, geography, and humanities. The educational exhibits, covering 26,000 sq. ft., let little ones play marimbas in the Music Room, explore the Germany House, a Mongolian Ger, and England House in the One World Village, experience farm life in The Big Red Barn, play a fry cook in Jack's Fairy Tale Diner, and have fun in a make-believe world.

One of their programs, Step on Stage, is a daily interactive theater program, during which a host/narrator invites audience members up on stage to put on a costume and be part of the story, though sometimes Step on Stage may involve puppetry and other performers. Either way, it sounds like fun for children and adults, too!

Coyote Gulch Art Village, Ivins

desert-art

Resting gently among mountainous rock formations and desert is the community of Kayenta, founded just a little more than 30 years ago as an experiment in planniing, business, community, and the environment, to see if people could live "lightly" on the earth, and it appears to be successful. This diverse community of like-minded people includes artists and artisans who are inspired by their surroundings, and the community's Coyote Gulch Art Village lets them share their work with visitors.

Still growing, this enclave of art galleries, theater, studios, and restaurants will affect all your senses on a number of levels. Stop into places like the Xetava Desert Arboretum, the Earth & Light Gallery, and Zia Pottery Studio, and spend some time in a community that "embraces nature, the arts, and a culture of diversity and sustainability.

Just imagine U in Utah! There's someplace sublime with wheelchair access ready to greet you when you get there. Do what you love and love what you do surrounded by some of the most incredible landscape you'll ever see. Just listen to the buzz—you can stay as busy as a bee in The Beehive State!