Recently, we pulled into a first-come-first-served campground late with no host on duty, and the only site available was the handicap site, so we left and parked at a Walmart. Could we have used the handicap spot?
-Amanda S., Nebraska
Many public and some private campgrounds have been adding accessible sites over the past several years. They’re often paved, level, and close to the bathrooms. Sometimes the firepit is even on pavement. It’s great that campgrounds are beginning to comply with ADA requirements, and recognizing the need for people living with mobility disabilities to have fewer barriers from enjoying the outdoors.
That said, campsites aren’t like parking spaces. They’re more like an accessible movie theater seat, or bathroom stall. Generally, yes, if it is the only site available, you are permitted to use it. Some campgrounds even let you reserve the accessible spot if they are otherwise sold out. Typical wording from reservamerica.com reads “if there are no other sites available, then an ADA site may be reserved by persons without a disability. Please note, if you choose to reserve an ADA Accessibility site solely because there are no other sites available, but upon your arrival a comparable non-ADA site is available, property management reserves the right to transfer you to the non-ADA site.”
Some campgrounds say you can only use it for one night. Some say you can only take it if it’s after a certain time of day. Others don’t allow people without need to use them at all. The bottom line – check with the campground for their rules.