Spending time outdoors is a way of life for many of us living in the beautiful scenery that is Northern Minnesota. Many studies have shown that getting back to nature can promote mental health as much as physical health. I know that I feel better after a day out on the trails. I am excited to explore more and more around the area. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park is on my list, and now it also might make the list for potential visitors with mobility issues.
The Split Rock Lighthouse State Park recently received an all-terrain track chair for those with disabilities to use at no charge. The chair was provided as part of an initiative by the Department of Natural Resources’ all-terrain track chair program which expanded, bringing eight new chairs across the state (Blue Mounds, Father Hennepin, Fort Snelling, Frontenac, Itasca, Lake Carlos, McCarthy Beach, and Split Rock Lighthouse State Parks). These are in addition to the chairs placed at the five state parks that launched the program in 2022.
The track chairs can assist visitors explore areas in state parks that are not suitable for regular wheelchairs. McCarthy Beach State Park even offers an adaptive beach chair, allowing for those with mobility issues to ride up to and into the water.
“Minnesota state parks are for everyone to enjoy, regardless of age or ability,” said DNR Parks and Trails Division Director Ann Pierce, in a press release. “The research is clear, spending time in nature provides significant health and wellness benefits to people. Providing adaptive equipment like the all-terrain track chairs brings valuable outdoor experiences to more Minnesotans.”
The all-terrain chairs are able to be reserved. There is not a cost to use the chair, but all visitors must have a state park vehicle permit. Minnesota residents who qualify for disability parking pay a reduced rate of $12 for the year-round permit.
The first user to visit and use the chair enjoyed a picnic with his parents. According to Shelley Kohlhaas, Assistant Park Manager, Mike “absolutely loved his park experience while using the track chair.”
When I thanked Shelley for bringing information to me to “news about” (see corny tagline at the end of this article), I remarked that it sounded like a really cool program. She agreed and added, “We are fortunate to have been selected as one of the sites that offers a track chair!”
The Split Rock Lighthouse State Park’s new track chair is available from 10 AM to 3 PM daily and can be reserved by calling the state park at 218-595-7625.
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