Death Valley National Park
Just up the road from Artist Drive is Golden Canyon Interpretive Trail. The short road in and the parking lot are paved with handicap parking and restrooms near the trail head. Unfortunately there is not much to see here from a wheelchair. There is a berm maybe 2 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide that you have go over to get to the trail. Once on the trail you are surrounded on both sides by a vertical rock wall that dwarfs in proportion. The trail is firm but rocky, not so easy with a manual wheelchair, but with my electric wheelchair it was no problem. Now that I have you excited about a trail that is accessible, here is the kicker. You can only go about a third of a mile before you come to the end of your road. At some point in time the side of the cliff came down creating a 10 foot climb in order to continue. I’m a very practical person, especially when it comes to the accessibility of nature. Some choose to make a war out of every place they cannot go instead of enjoying where they are able to go. I look at nature as a challenge of accessibility, and strive to experience all I can that is accessible to me. Even though I could only go a third of a mile or so, I absorbed the entire experience and took several photos along the way. For me this is one of those visit only once spots to say I went there and done that. I am not posting photo’s as there is not much more the photo’s would show than I have described.
Down the road from Artist Drive is Devils Golf Coarse. This is a must see especially at sunrise or sunset when the light bounces off the salt crystalline formations. The road out is no better or worse than the other dirt roads of the park and to be honest, I like it this way. Can you imagine if every road was paved and striped what your desert experience would be like? Yep, downtown big city! Don’t expect much once you reach the parking lot, it’s an extension of the road. There are no restrooms, no marked parking, no pad of concrete to park on, just dirt and small rocks. There is not a walk path out into Devils Golf Coarse and I am glad the national park service has not done so. You will appreciate that once you arrive as developing this area would completely mute your experience of the vast field of these halite salt crystal rock formations surrounding you. You can easily enjoy Devils Golf Coarse from your manual wheelchair as well as your electric wheelchair or scooter. The area is hard and flat with only small rocks to contend with. You can photograph either sunrise or sunset from along the road or within the parking area. We put Devils Golf Coarse on our sunset schedule for the week, experiencing two beautiful sunsets that lasted a mere few minutes. This is permanently on our revisit list for sunset and or sunrise.
Drive South a mile or so and you come to the 1.5 mile dirt road out to the Natural Bridge. The parking lot is hard dirt and park where you want. Pit type restroom facilities are available, but I found the dirt to be eroded giving way to 3-4 inch step to the concrete entrance pad.
The trail to the Natural Bridge is NOT wheelchair or scooter friendly, and I say that with much conviction. The path is very steep and consisting of soft sand with a mix of rocks from the size of a golf ball to that of a football. We did attempt to make the one mile hike up the hill to the Natural Bridge but after a mere 150 yards were forced to turn back. If you do decide to try and make your way you will be rewarded with a beautiful vista view of Death Valley on your return trip.