Accessible Destinations in Oregon
Most of us never give our travels or adventures into the great Oregon outdoors a second thought.
Why should we? After all, for most of us there are countless exciting opportunities for varied adventures and destinations with few barriers to get in the way.But what if the challenge of simply “getting there” was huge, even monumental – so much so that it was far easier to just throw in the towel and stay home never to experience Oregon’s many sights and sounds at all?
John Williams would like the change that perspective. Williams is a familiar voice to many – he plays the soft rock sounds on Portland’s K103fm radio dial. You’ve likely heard Williams if you’ve spent much time in the Rose City. After all, he has been on the rock radio scene since 1977.
But interestingly, when the radio studio goes quiet, there’s another sound that Williams would rather hear – the sounds of the wild! John Williams likes to be where the flocks are; it’s a passion that he’s owned since he was a kid.
John had polio as a child – he didn’t walk until he was four – but his family and their northwest adventures always made Williams feel right at home – whether in leg braces or in a chair – the polio never slowed him down. Outdoor adventures like fishing, hunting and boating came easy to someone eager to explore a love for the northwest outdoors.
Recently, Williams figured he could do more to help others too fearful to head outdoors. He produces a new TV program called “Wheelchair Destinations.” So far, he has compiled 26 3-minute segments that center on places and activities for folks who roll on wheels rather than walk on two legs.
His travels and specialty reports have taken Williams from the Oregon Coast to the Cascade Mountains and include a visit to famous Timberline Lodge to find how just how accessible the old lodge is for folks in wheelchairs.
There are other notable travel destinations across Oregon that are wheelchair friendly too. For example, explore the North Fork Nehalem River’s Disabled Angler Platform where salmon and steelhead are always on the bite. Or the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument where you will find a raised wooden boardwalk that allows folks a close up view to 60 million years of geologic history.
Finally, check out the Wildwood Recreation Site‘s Cascade Streamwatch Trail. The paved path takes you along the Salmon River for more than a mile and even puts you nose to nose with baby salmon in a tributary stream near Mt Hood. Back at Finley Wildlife Refuge, John and I enjoyed the Homer Campbell Memorial Trail: a 1700′ elevated boardwalk that courses through an oak and wetlands area and eventually ends at a view blind. Here, you can duck in out of bad weather and the blind overlooks a pond that is favored by waterfowl and eagles.
Williams adds that Oregon and especially Portland lead the nation in accessibility…that’s something more people in chairs should embrace:
“I really want to show folks what a beautiful part of the country we live in so they will get out of the living room and head out for travel across Oregon.”
For more Accessible Wildlife Experiences, check out the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Access Oregon Program (pdf)
About the Author: Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.