Saturday, June 11, 2011

Wheelchair Accessible Cape Cod!

Crosby Landing beach on the bayside of Nickerson State
Park. A beach wheelchair is available with advance notice.
Planning a visit to scenic Cape Cod? If you need wheelchair access in order to consider Massachusetts' premiere vacation destination, here's what you need to know!

Basic Services: You can cover a lot of planning basics with one stop on-line shopping on the Cape Cod Disability Access Directory (CCDAD). Details about ATMs, beaches, gas, health care, lodging, restaurants, theatre/cinema and transportation are covered for four distinct sections of the Cape.

Accessible camping at Nickerson State Park.
Camping:  Two state parks offer wheelchair accessible yurt camping - Nickerson State Park in Brewster and Shawme Crowell State Park in Sandwich - both are primarily inland forested parks, a nice reprieve from the hot sun. Yurts are built - in tents so no need to bring your own! They sleep either four or six people and feature beds, chairs and a table, with a deck outside and a raised fire circle with cooking grate. Nickerson features several freshwater ponds and a lot of shaded trails. The Cape Cod Rail Trail passes through at the front entrance. Nickerson also has a bay side beach that is quite lovely, and park staff will deliver a beach wheelchair if you like. The park is wildly popular with long lines to get in during the summer - don't plan to arrive without a reservation. If you prefer a quieter park, Shawme Crowell is a fantastic alternative, without ponds, trails or beach - a lovely base from which to explore outward. Reservations start six months in advance via Reserve America so its late in the game for this year, but always worth a check just in case, with availability most likely at Shawme Crowell.

Beaches: Many beaches feature beach wheelchairs from town beaches to the National Seashore. Use the CCDAD to look up beaches in towns you plan to visit.

Adaptive cycling along the Cape Cod Rail Trail.
Cycling: There are choices! The 22 mile long Cape Cod Rail Trail runs through six towns from Dennis to Wellfleet in the mid-Cape area. You can rent a DCR touring style handcycle at Rail Trail Bike and Blade in Brewster near Nickerson State Park. On the upper Cape, the Shining Sea Bikeway travels almost 11 miles through woodlands, salt marshes, and along the seashore between Falmouth and Woods Hole. In Provincetown, the outermost tip of the Cape, a 5 mile Provincelands Loop through the dunes offers a hilly ride with extensions to beaches. Bike paths are generally great for wheelchair jaunts too!

CAPEAble Adventures has 6 of these wheelchair accessible
tents available for their camping programs.

Adventures: I just met Craig Bautz of CAPEAble Adventures at DCR's annual Adaptive Recreation Fair in Boston last weekend. What a nice guy! And he's got toys! CAPEAble offers organized adaptive recreation activities including cycling, golf, kayaking, curling and kite flying. They work with the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands (RHCI) and put together a Wounded Warriors Project Weekend each September. Craig uses a wheelchair himself and lives on the Cape, so he is a great resource!

Cape Cod is becoming more accessible over time and that is a nice thing to be observing!


Karen said...

Love your site and all the fabulous information for people with disabilities to get out and enjoy a range of recreational opportunities. I could have used this back when my husband and I went camping at the state parks. Would consider trying the yurt!

Anonymous said...

just unwrapped a new bike like in the first picture! lets put it to good use.

Susan Brown said...

SMILE Mass is a non-profit based in Sudbury Mass that is placing floating beach wheelchairs on public beaches of Cape Cod. We are proud to announce that on June 15, 2012 we delivered 20 beach wheelchairs to 12 towns across Cape Cod - from Bourne to Provincetown.

To see the full list of beaches please visit