How off-road chairs are changing Michigan state parks for people with mobility challenges

Michigan state parks are beautiful. However, they are often not very accessible to people with mobility challenges.

That is changing.

Fourteen track chairs are now at 11 state parks and recreation areas, with more coming in the future. 

(Photo: Michigan DNR)

These off-road chairs, which are free to use, allow people who are in wheelchairs or have difficulty walking to access trails. They work in snow, sand, and up to 8 inches of water.

Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Island Lake Recreation Area, Maybury State Park, and Waterloo Recreation Area in Southeast Michigan have the chairs. The chairs can also be found around the state, including Bay City State Park, Grand Haven State Park, Holland State Park, Ionia, Ludington State Park, Muskegon State Park, and Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

When Ludington State Park got its chair, an area resident who hasn't been able to access areas of the park, shared her first time experiencing it.

"It was so cool to be able to explore parts of the state park that I’ve never seen before even though I have lived here all my life," Jamie Spore said. "My favorite part of the day was visiting the beach. That was a blast! That was the first time in my life I ever successfully drove through sand."

(Photo: Friends of Ludington State Park)

The chairs are $14,500 each. They are the result of a fundraising campaign to increase accessibility, and many were donated by nonprofits. 

You can donate to help your favorite park get a chair too. Donate here.

Each park and recreation area has its own policies on how to reserve the chairs. Learn more here.