Seek natural wonders the easy way

Outside Magazine shares the details of seemingly impossible exploits into the wild world of nature. Yet there’s seldom a “doable” (for ordinary human beings) adventure among its pages.

Sally Roth and Matt Bartmann’s new book, Accessible Nature, is a read at the way far end of the physically challenging scale and a beautiful collection of suggestions for less venturesome and less physically able nature lovers. A perfect read for retirees.

The book’s sub-title, Adventures with Sally Roth and Matt Bartmann to 200 Easy to Access Wild Places, describes the contents in a nutshell. The nitty-gritty details emerge in more than 400 easy-to-read pages cataloging great places to enjoy nature all across the country, from your car, on a short, easy walk, with an easy wheelchair spin or even at home from your favorite armchair.

Roth writes the text, Bartmann takes the photos and from page one of the introduction, their delight in nature and travelling and working together is evident. They divided the country into 10 regions based on similarities of climate and terrain, from New England to the Pacific Northwest. Each entry has a “how to explore” line explaining what the access is like — requiring a short walk, accessible for a wheelchair, satisfying from a car window. “We’re not hikers,” Roth said. “Matt and I are strollers, amblers, mosey-ers. It’s not a hike we’re after.”

According to Roth, a car is a perfect “blind” where humans can remain hidden from easily wary animals. “Wildlife isn’t afraid of cars,” Roth said, noting that you are more likely to get a close-up look at wildlife if you don’t try to chase after them.

Readers will likely first open this book to the pages that describe places to go close to home or in their favorite areas of the country but Roth reminds us that venturing farther afield can be great fun. Then she goes on to describe how travelers can make their trips more comfortable in lots of different ways from compromising with your travel mate to carrying along the right equipment, clothing, maps, food and cameras. Roth and Bartmann have settled on a single cardinal rule when they travel: When either one of them says, “stop,” they stop, no questions asked.

Narrowing down the entries for their book was difficult, in fact, they ended up with 202 options. They included only a few national and state parks, wildlife refuges, forests and grasslands in an attempt to avoid destinations people would be likely to go to anyway. They focused instead on interesting scenic drives, places not officially labeled as special. They included directions only for the destinations that aren’t marked on a road map.

“The more you look, the more you’ll find at any place you happen to stop,” Roth says. They are loyal fans of dirt roads, skirting big cities, a leisurely pace and keeping daily mileage low, but they don’t hesitate to use freeways and crank up the miles when they have a specific destination in mind.

It’s great fun to open this book at a random entry just to see what you might find such as the existence of a living fossil snail at Driftless Area National Wildlife Refuge in Elkader, Iowa. There’s even a photo of the little fellow. Check it out on page 218.

Accessible Nature is published by Happy Crab Publishing in LaPorte. Autographed books are available for $24.95 at, and the book is sold through at

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