Some Thoughts about Wilderness Access

I went up to Spring Mountain National Recreational Area yesterday for several reasons. Among them was to just get away from the Vegas heat. Traveling up about 7,000 feet cools things off.

But there wasn't much to do because only one very short accessible trail was available. It was a beautiful overlook in which you could see the desert below and really understand the extent to which the Mojave desert was really an ocean bottom at one point in its history. I enjoyed the overlook and was appreciative of its accessibility.

But the experience got me to thinking about a topic that has come up before. How do we balance accessibility with topography and a desire to leave as little human footprint as possible on natural environments we are seeking to preserve.

It is a tough nut. I've enjoyed several National Parks, Forests and Recreational Areas. That enjoyment has been enhanced because of efforts from groups like the Telecom Pioneers, who have worked with the parks to create accessible facilities and trails in our national park system.

But also I know that the topography limits these efforts. Near Roosevelt Lake in Arizona, the climb up to cliff caves were impossible for me. Anything that would make it accessible would destroy it. They came up with a creative idea however. I was directed to a hill nearby where I could look through a telescopic lens that was trained on petroglyphs. It was not like being there, but it was definitely the next best thing and, well, I really appreciated the creativity and thoughtfulness to have something.

Could Spring Mountains have something more? My first impression was probably. There were some areas where it looked like it might be possible.

Of course, the thought also occurred to me that maybe working it from the other end would be nice. Maybe instead of changing the trails, we should be thinking about some innovative ways to have the wheels to go through some of the trails. They already have motorized visitors. Certainly renting some of these kinds of vehicles would be a lot more feasible than the cost of making accessible trails.

And finally an old solution: Horseback Riding. I'm not sure what's available locally. I did a story about a program in Florida a few years back.


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