Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes but also has some other boat and lake-worthy distinctions. That’s why this month's rendition of Out and About is called Out and A” boat”! The state has the fifth most boats in the United States and more shoreline than California and Hawaii combined. With so many boats and lakes, we thought a senior-friendly blog on boating would be in order!
Most of us have enjoyed the water in Minnesota in one way or another. Summertime can bring up those fond memories of being on the water on a pontoon, fishing boat, sailboat, kayak, or maybe racing along on a speedboat. No matter the mode of travel being on the water can be refreshing, relaxing, or exciting–and possibly a great senior outing.All aboard for a boat ride!
Taylors Falls River Boat rides have been operating on the St. Croix river since 1906. Their two guided boats travel up and down the river allowing for a great opportunity to enjoy the beautiful sites and abundant wildlife. Among the formations you can see is the huge stone cross for which the St. Croix River was named. “St. Croix” means Holy Cross. Boat tours are in both the evenings and daytime. Check their website for details on times and events.
The Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours are handicap-friendly. Both boats are somewhat accessible, depending on a variety of factors. The boat’s lower level is accessible in a semi-limited capacity to most standard-size manual wheelchairs during normal water levels. The restrooms onboard are not handicapped accessible, but there are handicapped stalls in the restrooms next to the ticket window in the brown building. There is no elevator to the 2nd level of the boat. The staff and crew at the Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours are committed to assisting guests with accessibility whenever possible. If you have questions, please call their team, to get answers to your questions regarding the water levels and the type of handicap accessibility you are looking for–651-465-6315.
Climb aboard the Padelford boats for a beautiful Mississippi boat excursion. On their 1.5-hour Sightseeing Cruise, they head toward Fort Snelling. On a 4-hour Lock & Lunch Cruise, they make way through Lock and Dam No. 1, turn around by the Lake Street Bridge, and then come back down river. All of their cruises provide the best viewing possible of St. Paul/Mississippi River National Park and Recreation Area. Generally, there are multiple cruises available daily during the summer, including evening opportunities. There is a bar and snacks on board.
Caution–Because of their unique design and regulatory characteristics, these excursion vessels are not subject to the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG). That said, they make every reasonable effort to assist and accommodate passengers with special needs. Providing ADA accessibility to their facility and vessels; however, Coast Guard regulations require water barriers (raised thresholds in doorways). All vessels are multi-deck and are not fitted with rail lifts or elevators. Restrooms on the Anson Northrup and Betsey Northrup are outfitted with grab bars and are useable by persons with special needs. The restrooms on the Jonathan Padelford, built-in 1969, are not large enough to accommodate wheelchairs.
In 2016 Veterans on the Water was started by Steve Gillaspie (Vietnam Veteran) from Arlington, MN. The goal is to create a FREE fishing experience of excitement, fun, and laughter for Veterans. All of their boats have been rebuilt specifically to accommodate special needs plus custom designs and features of red, white and blue! They own all the boats used on their fishing trips. Their fleet includes 16′ Lund boats, pontoons with wheelchair accessibility, and an Ice House! Offering several single-day fishing trips and some extended weekend fishing trips with no cost to Vets. Check out their Calendar page to get details on upcoming trips. To join one of the trips sign up on the Trip Sign Up page.
Veterans on the water have accessibility accommodations for veterans that want to fish! If you sign up be sure to let them know you will need special accommodations for your trip in the comments section. Veterans on the Water has two wheelchair-accessible buses to transport any Veteran to any fishing trip. Once you are at the boat they have a lift to help Veterans in wheelchairs and mobility concerns transport from land to the Pontoon. Their pontoons have built-in toilets that can be used during fishing trips.
Three River Park Adaptive Boats
Depending on your senior's needs you may want to check out the adaptive services at Three Rivers Park System. According to Kimi Aisawa Romportl a Naturalist at the park, “we have a specific staff member that oversees all adaptations for all the parks and helps with equipment and any specific accommodations that an individual might need. The park calls them inclusion services for people with disabilities who want to participate in general recreation and education programs. These services can help people with mobility issues that want to enjoy time on the beach, try an adaptive kayak, or an off-road handcycle. Reservations are required two days prior. For some seniors with good upper body strength, this could give back some mobility and freedom while getting exercise. (Always check with your doctor prior to trying a new exercise program.)
Getting out on the water in Minnesota is something to be enjoyed. We hope one of these options fits into your 2022 plans!