Nevada and the Southwest are chock-full of gorgeous scenery from the heights of Wheeler Peak to the depths of Death Valley, but enjoying them often requires a bit of stamina.
Along comes a unique book for those who want to see these sights but have limited mobility — whether in a wheelchair, using a walker, having a service dog or simply not in the best of shape. For these people, and frankly anyone interested in getting out and seeing our great land, experienced outdoor writers and photographers Deborah Wall and Dennis Boulton have penned “Access For All: Touring the Southwest With Limited Mobility.”
The numerous, lush photographs alone make the book a valuable addition to anyone’s library.
The writers traveled tens of thousands of miles to research and take photographs for the book, finding accessible trails, overlooks, campgrounds, parking, bathrooms and lodging accommodations for the dozens of beautiful natural sights in Nevada, Arizona, Utah and western California.
Previously there has been little information available about which outdoor destinations are equipped to accommodate people with limited mobility, even though more and more outdoor sights have redoubled efforts to provide access to areas formerly available only to the young and fit. Longer life expectancy and early retirements have given more of us time to travel, despite aching joints and shortened breath.
In addition, the book suggests several road trips in which the scenery is visible from the comfort of an air-conditioned car, such as Highway 50: Loneliest Road in America.
“U.S. 50 roughly parallels the trail used by the Pony Express, the short-lived mail delivery system which ran from 1860 to 1861 …” the book tells us.
“If you long to experience the ‘real Nevada’ of present-day Western films, this is a good place to do so. To do it properly, allow two or three days; don’t fight the 382 miles from Carson City to Baker (home of Great Basin National Park), but savor them.”
This section singles out stops along the way such as the Eureka Opera House, the Eureka Sentinel Museum, the Sand Springs Desert Study Area, ruins of the Overland Mail Station, Stokes Castle, Hickison Petroglyph Recreation Area and the Ward Charcoal Ovens.
In addition to the sights to see and the wildlife to watch for, the book is rich with history and anecdotes that you can regale your friends and family with while on the outing.
“In the Moapa area (Jack) Longstreet killed a man named Dry. Dry had a bad reputation, so authorities accepted Longstreet’s claim of self-defense. But on the hilt of Longstreet’s revolver, Dry’s notch wasn’t the only one,” we are told. “Longstreet built at Ash Meadows in 1895. He cleverly set the back of his cabin into a natural spring mound, whose running water provided refrigeration for food storage.”
One can get to the site of the cabin via a three hundred-yard, wheelchair-accessible boardwalk.
In the Ely area the book gives the history of the Northern Nevada Railway and ruminates on the feel of experiencing a bygone era. “Ely can be cold, and it is a treat just to see a steam engine idling at the station on a frosty morning, with steam billowing from the cylinders at each stroke,” Wall and Boulton write. “These classic engines give any visitor the opportunity to capture a time period long gone.”
Surprisingly, even a portion of the Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park is accessible.
“While much of this tour involves narrow passages and steep stairs, people with limited mobility have access to the first room in the cave, called Gothic Palace,” the book relates. “What usually happens is that they join the main group of visitors for the first thirty minutes; a ranger then escorts them out as the others continue into more difficult depths.”
The book, published by New University Press (http://newuniversitypress.com/), hit the bookstore shelves this week and is available on Amazon.com for $24.99.
Wall is a professional outdoor writer and photographer. Her popular columns on hiking and hiking trails appear regularly in several Nevada publications. Her previous books include “Base Camp Las Vegas” and “Great Hikes: A Cerca Country Guide.”
Boulton is a retired geologist and teacher who has lived in Nevada since 1965. He has been a guide for backpacking and whitewater outings.
Wall and Boulton are available for speaking engagements that include in-depth slide shows featuring photographs from their travels. They may be contacted via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The book was edited and designed by longtime Nevada writer and editor A.D. Hopkins, a member of the Nevada Newspaper Hall of Fame.
Thomas Mitchell is a longtime Nevada newspaper columnist. You may share your views with him by emailing email@example.com. Read additional musings on his blog at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/.