Non disabled people hogging ADA campsites? How?

Discussion in 'Camping for the Medically/Physically Challenged' started by dbhost, Mar 7, 2021.

  1. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    This is a bit of a rant. Mind you I have been watching for quite some time now for site availability at several parks close to me. One was close enough for a day trip yesterday. Mind you this park had 0 available sites, including ADA sites which I due to the diagnosed spinal issues sadly qualify for.

    As we drove through the park looking at the various sites I noticed something...

    The ADA marked sites, there were no displayed placards, or disabled plates on any of the vehciles. Not just not on some, but NONE of them had appropriate tags.

    I looked at the online reservation system and there is NO requirement to even attest that you qualify for these sites...

    Now I CAN manage a standard site, but the ADA compliant sites tend to be more level, cleared of obstructions in the site, with power and water to provide for medical equipment etc...

    Honestly, my main issues are standing up from low positions due to the nerve controlling my leg getting pinched at a certain degree of bend. And Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Even with ADA compliant sites, my main need / issue is the presence of power.

    When I was younger, I had absolutely ZERO problem finding a wide level spot that had been used as a campsite previously along a forest road assuming dispersed camping was allowed. No power needed as I was more or less self contained, but even with the battery pack, my confidence is using CPAP off grid isn't super high.

    Is there a way that anyone knows of to get priority reservations for ADA compliant camping in state (TX, AR, OK, TN, and LA) parks or National Parks? I don't have the same opportunity for camping that folks not dependent upon things like CPAP do camping wise...
     
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  2. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    In some of the places we go, ADA sites are released for overnight use at some point, if they have not been reserved. Otherwise, I don't usually see anything requiring some sort of ADA permit, it seems to be on the honor system. One issue is that there are so many agencies running public campgrounds - USFS, COE, state and national parks, the occasional city or county parks, etc. I've never tried (even by accident) to reserve a HC site, so don't know how it appears on the reservation systems. I do know that the reservation system state that I have to show my Senior Pass to confirm I have it on arrival, since that reduces the base site fee by 50%, but few places ask for it.
    One of our favorite campgrounds has one loop that we've been using for 25 years or so; it's all dry camping, so having power isn't an issue. When they updated it, a lot of sites in that loop were made "accessible", but not ADA, although there is no notice of any sort on the sites themselves. They are flat, but that seems to be the extent of the accessibility. They're graveled, and in most campgrounds, the ADA sites have concrete, even if others don't. The ones that aren't rated as accessible are really tent only - i.e. tiny parking space, steps to a tent pad, or have space for a vehicle and that's it. We've seen the occasional van or small TT on a couple, but tight fit is an understatement. When we reserve a site, a huge notice comes up that says something to the effect that you are about to reserve an accessible campsite, choose another if able to do so. The first time that happened, quite a while after the update, we were a bit surprised, but we just go with it - we can't fit on anything else, couldn't even with our tiny, first popup (we've been using the same site on most trips since tenting days). Sure was nice to have the flat campsite last year, when I broke my ankle the morning we arrived.
     
  3. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I dont know. I do know that some places fill the ada sites after all the regular ones are filled. I dont normally take those, even if there the only ones left. But im sure others do. I will also bet some dont understand that arw new to camping, and i have never sceen anything asking for proof to verify. I haven't really looked though.
     
  4. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    It depends on the park, but I have seen the typical blue wheelchair symbol on the site number post. And like was mentioned above, to be truly ADA they are paved, have power / water, and are in close proximity to an ADA bathroom, and will typically have a picnic table that either have moveable benches, or a bench only on one side...

    I guess for me the biggest lament is that it is so hard to reserve power / water and fairly level sites without having to make the reservation 6 months in advance. Linving / camping here in Texas, heck in 6 months how do I know I won't be running away from another hurricane?
     
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  5. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I get it. Up north here we have to book as soon as the window opens. So, i got used to it. If i dont or cant go i try to cancle. Sometimes i have to cut my trips short. Not ideal, but it is what it is. Good , luck.
     
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  6. Ladiesman

    Ladiesman Well-Known Member

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    I have to say that We have also noticed this. When walking the State park campgrounds in Illinois I very and I mean very rarely see a handicap plate on a tow vehicle or a motorhome in the sites reserved for that.
     
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  7. Susan Premo

    Susan Premo Well-Known Member

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    I'd never take one I don't think I would unless we had to for only 1 night, but we make our reservations early, so we should never need to. I think that there should be a sticker or something that people should put on the post that marks the site, that shows its legit. Like everyone has to put up that piece of paper showing that they paid for the site.
     
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  8. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

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    Was the campground otherwise full? Some people view these like the ADA stall in the bathroom. If the others are occupied and you need it, you take it regardless of your ability.
     
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  9. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    Not typically. The main thing I is that the ADA sites are are typically next to the bathrooms. Having said that, I try not to use ADA bathroom stalls myself if I can avoid it, again I need a way to boost to get up and down, but it's not a lot, just a little push off of a TP dispenser, or grab the top of the stall wall if it is reach and pull. I leave the wheelchair stalls for wheelchair users only if I can. I have friends that need them so I am pretty sensitive about it...

    And while I get the argument, to my perspective, the ADA sites are just like marked disabled parking spaces and should be reserved only for those that have the proper diagnosis and placard / license plates etc...

    I am also keenly aware that not all disabilities show up at a glance. Not everyone that has a disability is in a wheelchair for example. So it is hard to tell. I have a friend from our church that is in his twenties, looks fit as a fiddle, young etc... And I at my considerable weight and health issues can outrun him as he has some serious genetic cardiac issues.

    Honestly ADA or no. The camp site situation has notably gotten WAY worse. I am wondering... Mind you I am no youngster any more. But I remember literally deciding Firday morning during class with friends in college that we were going to go up the mountains and go camping for the weekend. And we NEVER thought about if a site was going to be avaialble. ALL of my friends would go camping on a whim. There would be occasionally somebody that would set up a tent in a site, nothing else, and leave. Not registered, not paid for or anything, and a simple talk with the campground host or ranger would free up the site. To this day I know that "homesteading" a site by setting up but not paying, not reserving etc.. is still against the rules in almost all campgrounds, yet plenty of times I see it.

    It seems to me that campgrounds / parks availability has NOT kept up with use and population growth. And in turn we are having problems being able to enjoy camping as a spontaneous activity instead of a big ordeal planned half a year in advance sucking some of the fun out of it.
     
  10. kitphantom

    kitphantom Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    The growth in interest in camping has outpaced growth of places to camp for some years now. It is not new, nor is it confined to ADA HC spots. There is no quick and easy solution to it, and the spike in campers, or those who decided to camp last year after not doing for years, because COVID19 limited other options, only made it worse. Add in some campgrounds that are close for various non-COVID19 related reasons, and things are just interesting.
    A friend and I drove from ABQ to Farmington, NM and back on Labor Day, and the stream of vehicles seemingly heading home from camping was amazing; some were frightening, since they were so mismatched. There were quite a number that looked like someone had hauled a popup or TT out of storage, hooked it up and set off. NM state parks were closed at the time, so where they all had camped is anyone's guess.
    Some campgrounds are limiting site occupation, although there is a (maybe faint) hope they will open more as things improve this year. For example, Mather CG at South Rim Grand Canyon has been allowing reservations at 50%, I cannot figure out how they determined which would be shut for the year, I would assume the few HC sites were left available. (It is a dry campground but there are HC sites there at at the equally dry North Rim campground).
    We moved to mostly reserved spots some time in the early to mid-90s, because the SW seemed to have been discovered by the rest of the world. Being shut out of FCFS sites mid-day, mid-week got old very quickly. We seldom arrive before mid-afternoon on many trips, since we drive 6-9 hours to get to a campground, and having to search for a campsite at that point is not our idea of fun. One thing that has changed for reservations over the years is that the lead time, not counting lucking into a cancellation, has gotten shorter. Where once we were fine making plans 3-4 months in advance, or adding to plans already make, we now make reservations when the window opens. That has worked well for us, because of my husband's work schedule, we use his alternate Fridays off and vacation days to get more camping time. How we will organize trips once he retires in a few years is unknown.
     
  11. NMroamer

    NMroamer Well-Known Member

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    My two cents about ADA sites at a campground we like to go to.
    The sites are labeled as ADA accessible as a convenience to those that need them.
    They are not meant to be for only ADA users.
     
  12. Sneezer

    Sneezer Well-Known Member

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    Most of the ADA sites I have seen around me were less desirable from a camping standpoint. They were usually at the end of a loop, often adjacent to or across from the restroom, and usually had zero shade. In years past they were almost always vacant unless the park was at 100% capacity. These days, with so many people camping, and often with only alternating sites open, or some parts of the parks shut down due to maintenance and staffing shortages, they all seem to be taken.

    I think with most state campgrounds they seem to rely on an honor system, as there is no repurcussion for the park rangers to take if you are camping there with no disability or placard on your vehicle. It could easily be a family taking grandma out for the weekend, and there may not be a placard since she doesn't drive. Maybe an autistic kid or something, and running around between trees at a regular site could be more dangerous.
     
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  13. jonkquil

    jonkquil Well-Known Member

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    I think this is how it is for most of the CG we go to. The ADA sites are last to be reserved, but I don't think they are saved just for someone needing an ADA site, it's who books first.
     
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  14. Lug_Nut

    Lug_Nut Active Member

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    What if I were to go camping with a relative with a qualifying disability and we used my tow vehicle, would that be OK with you?
     
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  15. dbhost

    dbhost Well-Known Member

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    This is a bit of a strawman argument. I don't know every state, province, or regions processes, but in Texas, Oregon, Arizona, California, and New Mexico (places I am familiar with), the state will provide a placard for the person with a qualifying disability whether they drive or not in order to provide for disabled parking for them while riding in someone elses vehicle.

    So if you were to go camping with a relative with a qualifying disability, and use your tow vehicle, use their state issued placard. If you were to use disabled parking in your TV for example while taking them out to dinner in town without their placard you would likely be subject to citation or towing and impound wouldn't you? Why would a state park campground be any different?

    Mind you the laws, rules, and regulations that govern various campgrounds in various states could and most likely will vary widely. Folks have mentioned above that while the sites exist and are made available, but not reserved for persons with qualifying disabilities. That is understandable, but somewhat concerning. And I am sure lots of people don't like that handicapped parking spaces are often open while the rest of a parking lot is full up. Same thing with camp grounds...

    I am honestly not sure what the proper thing here is. I know that camping opportunities have NOT kept up with the demand. Given the issues with COVID and peoples concerns with hotels and air travel, camping has shot way up. People need to get out just to cure cabin fever. It's not just disabled spaces that are a problem. To be blunt, we need more camp sites for people to enjoy and keep from going too terribly bonkers...
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2021
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  16. southern gal

    southern gal Member

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    I accidentally booked an ADA spot one time. It was next to the bathhouse and we had kids and adults trekking through our spot the whole time. I didn’t realize it was ADA until we got there. I felt horrible. Lesson learned, though. I pay very careful attention to what I am booking. There was at least one more ADA spot at the other end of the bathhouse that was vacant the whole time we were there.
     
  17. jonkquil

    jonkquil Well-Known Member

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    After reading through this thread I was really curious and interested on how ADA sites work, so I phoned Oregon State Park info line and asked. These are the rules for ADA sites in an Oregon State Park :-

    You can only reserve an ADA site by phoning them to make a reservation. You can not reserve those sites online.

    You do not need a disabled badge/placard to book one but you do need a medical need for one. i.e - someone in your group has a broken leg, etc

    If you are a first-come-first-served guest and an ADA site is available, it will be released to you at 7pm but the Ranger has to check you in, you can not just occupy the site.

    So here in Oregon, ADA sites are not the same as a disabled parking spot, it's for those that need it and have gone through the correct channels to book it...... or a sneaky git who wrapped their leg in a bandage & borrowed Nan's walking frame, just sayin' :rolleyes:

    So, it's best not to give any campers who are occupying an ADA site the stink eye, as they either need the site or arrived as a walk-up before you
     
  18. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Na, we can still give um the stink eye. Lol. I get what the op is saying and i also get the need for the ada sites. Some may not be able to book far in advance. Unfortunately, this is the new normal. I dont even have my vacation picked at work yet. But i have 6 trips booked. Im sure some will have to be cancled. But , this is the only way to do it so i can go someplaces i want to. Is it ideal, nope. But its nessassery.
     
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  19. SteveP

    SteveP Well-Known Member Platinum Supporting Member

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    Debi has a placard for disabled parking. It's in the glovebox. If we park in a marked space we hang it on the mirror, and when we leave that space it goes back in the glovebox. Any time I'm parked in a space that does not require the placard to be displayed it's in the glovebox. So just come ask and I will show it to you.
     
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  20. Rik Peery

    Rik Peery Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    I THINK Va. state parks campsites are marked w/ a blue handicap placard...I could qualify for tags I guess thru the VA, but can't make myself put in for 'em as long as I can still get around half azzed...
     
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