The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is expanding its all-terrain track chair program by bringing the adaptive mobility devices to eight additional state parks.
The DNR launched the program in 2022 with five all-terrain track chairs. By Aug. 1, 2023, there will be 13 chairs available at state parks throughout the state. The battery-powered chairs enable visitors with mobility disabilities to explore trails and other areas within state parks that can’t be accessed using a regular wheelchair.
“Like all our public lands and waters, Minnesota state parks are for everyone to enjoy,” said DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen. “I’m thrilled that current efforts and future investments will allow more people to enjoy the outdoor spaces that make our state a great place to live, work, and play. These track chairs represent the type of investment DNR will make over the next several years thanks to historic legislative funding for our Get out MORE (Modernize Outdoor Recreation Experiences) initiative, which aims to ensure Minnesotans of all abilities and interests enjoy world-class outdoor experiences.”
Track chairs will be newly available this summer at Blue Mounds, Father Hennepin, Fort Snelling, Frontenac, Itasca, Lake Carlos, McCarthy Beach and Split Rock Lighthouse state parks. These eight parks join the parks that got chairs in 2022 – Camden, Crow Wing, Lake Bemidji, Maplewood and Myre-Big Island. Parks were selected based on a number of factors, including the presence of trails suitable for track chair use, availability of storage space and charging outlets near a trailhead, and the desire to locate track chairs broadly throughout the state.
“The research is clear: spending time in nature provides significant health and wellness benefits for people,” said DNR Parks and Trails Director Ann Pierce. “Investing in adaptive equipment like the all-terrain track chairs helps the DNR connect more Minnesotans with the outdoors by providing experiences they may not have without a track chair.”
Visitors can call a park with a track chair ahead of time to reserve that chair. There is no cost to use an all-terrain track chair, but visitors will need a state park vehicle permit. Minnesota residents who qualify for disability parking can get a reduced rate year-round vehicle permit for $12. To learn more, visit the Minnesota DNR’s state park permit webpage.
In addition to the 13 state parks offering all-terrain track chairs, McCarthy Beach State Park offers an adaptive beach chair, which enables visitors with disabilities to enjoy a one-of-a-kind swimming beach experience within a state park setting. McCarthy Beach also offers a beach mat, which goes over the sandy beach and helps people with mobility disabilities get to the waterfront.
For more information, including phone numbers for the state parks offering track chairs and other adaptive equipment, visit the Minnesota DNR’s track chair webpage.