Hi, everyone, We will be visiting Plitvice Lakes next week with our daughter, who has a mild disability. She can walk a few kilometers in a day if she goes slowly and rests when needed, but she can't climb stairs very well and isn't up for vigorous, speedy hiking. We were thinking of having her walk as much of Rick Steves' recommended route as she can (avoiding the climbs to the top of the waterfalls) and breaking our visit up into two days to give her time. For people who have visited the park, does this sound feasible? Does the park have wheelchairs for rental? Thank you in advance for your help.
I think that going at your own pace will work fine and you can see a ton from the main path and the boats without hiking to the highest viewpoints. If it has rained, some areas can get muddy. If I recall correctly, our group (of varying hiking abilities) started by taking the shuttle "train" (actually a bus) to the Upper Lakes, then walking mostly downhill, and boat to the Lower Lakes (from P2 to P3).
Look around this page, too, which seems to show the terrain, but I have not read through it all: http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/plan-your-visit/recreation/instructive-and-recreational-trails/.
I don't know of any wheelchairs for rental. The majority of the paths through the park will be dirt (slightly rocky in places), or wooden footbridge. While I would classify the overall hiking as easy for someone able-bodied, there are a number of places that would be inaccessible for someone in a wheelchair whether it's because of stairs or because there happened to be high water washing over one of the footbridges.
The good news is that there's still a lot that you can see. You don't have to go far from the entrance at the Lower Lakes to see the Great Waterfall. There are busses that run in the park that can easily take you between points with panoramic views along the way. I believe the electric boat should also be accessible.
Thank you so much for your help. This is a load off my mind!
Study the handout map carefully for indicated stairs. I faintly remember that because of crowding, some narrower paths are one-way. I agree that you can see nice things without hitting the stairs, but it is fair to say that the vast majority of the hillside paths are tricky footing or include stairs. Food areas can require a wait for a table in the shade, and the formal indoor fish restaurant ,which is quite atmospheric, requires booking. I also recall a boatride with easy access.