Accessibility for travelers throughout the southwest varies from state to state, but in general you’ll find levels on par with the rest of the United States. Utah takes the lead for leaping ahead of providing the bare necessities; Arizona’s a close runner-up; and New Mexico trails behind due to its number of historic properties.
But first things first: If you’ll be visiting a lot of wilderness areas, you should get the National Park Service’s Access Pass (888/467-2757), a free lifetime pass that grants admission for the pass-holder and three adults to all national parks, national forests, and the like, as well as discounts on interpretive services, camping fees, fishing licenses, and more. Apply in person at any federally managed park or wilderness area; you must show medical documentation of blindness or permanent disability.
Wheelchair access can be frustrating in some historic properties and on the narrower sidewalks of Santa Fe and Taos.The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority provides for information on the assistance available in Las Vegas.
Travelers with disabilities will find Utah quite progressive when it comes to accessibility issues, especially in the heavily traveled national parks in southern Utah. Most parks offer all-abilities trails, and many hotels advertise their fully accessible facilities.
Wheelchair access can be frustrating in some historic properties and on the narrower sidewalks of Santa Fe and Taos, but in most other respects, travelers with disabilities should find no more problems in New Mexico than elsewhere in the United States. Public buses are wheelchair-accessible, an increasing number of hotels have ADA-compliant rooms, and you can even get out in nature a bit on paved trails such as the Santa Fe Canyon Preserve loop or the Paseo del Bosque in Albuquerque.
Many of the best sights in Arizona are accessible in one way or another. Grand Canyon National Park operates wheelchair-accessible park shuttles and the park’s website has a downloadable accessibility guide. The Grand Canyon and most of the other major federal parks have accessible trails and viewpoints. For advice and links to other helpful Internet resources, go to www.disabledtravelers.com, which is based in Arizona and is full of accessible travel information, though it’s not specific to the state. The National Accessible Travelers Database may also be helpful. For questions specific to Arizona, you may want to contact the state Department of Administration’s Office for Americans with Disabilities (100 N. 15th Ave., Ste. 361, Phoenix, 602/542-6276 or 800/358-3617, or TTY 602/542-6686).
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Southwest Road Trip.