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Q&A with John Williams of Wheelchair Destinations

Using a wheelchair doesn't stop a devoted explorer from visiting gorgeous places.

John Williams at Drano Lake in Washington, picture
Photo credit
Photo: Robbie McClaran
Photo caption
John Williams enjoys Drano Lake in Washington.

Filmmaker and avid athlete John Williams founded Wheelchair Destinations, a production company that films stunning Pacific Northwest landscapes and showcases outdoor activities for people with limited mobility.

Via: Why did you start your company?

John Williams: I had polio as a child, and when my wife and I travel, I use my wheelchair. After I retired from the radio and television industry in Portland, I decided to use my experience and skills to make videos promoting accessible travel. The U.S. Forest Service contacted me after I appeared on Grant’s Getaways, a TV show hosted by Grant McOmie, and I’ve now covered nearly all the national forests in the Northwest.

Via: Why is the company's motto "Know before you go"?

JW: Sometimes signs or guides don’t accurately represent the conditions in a forest facility. In the videos, we show people how accessible the area actually is, including restrooms, doors, paths, and steps.

Via: Your top outdoor winter activities?

JW: Last year I was introduced to snow skiing on Mount Hood by Ed Bronsdon of the Outdoors for All Foundation, an accessible-sports outfit. It was really fun. It was heartwarming to be called “dude.”

Via: Favorite places for exploring in a wheelchair?

JW: Hells Canyon in Idaho and Oregon is remarkably accessible. Driving out to the Hells Canyon Dam and the overlook—which gives you amazing mountain views—is beautiful. The white-water rafts that launch into the designated Wild section of the Snake River aren’t wheelchair accessible, but are wonderful for those with some mobility. 

This article was first published in November 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.