Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.

Fort Mackinac Accessibility

The historic and natural environments of the Straits of Mackinac sometimes present impediments to accessibility. Blowing sand, natural trails and steep grades can make traveling difficult. Many 18th and 19th century buildings have entrance steps, narrow doorways and other physical barriers. The sites are mainly outside, feature loud noises, various smells, and people in period costumes. 

Continuous effort is made to make all aspects of Mackinac State Historic Parks accessible. Where possible, physical changes have removed barriers. Alternate programs or services provide additional access opportunities and future projects will continue to improve access.

Museum and Park Services

  • Wheelchairs are available for loan at Fort Mackinac on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Guides to Access are available at admission sites. 
  • Captioning is provided for movies at all sites. 
  • Service animals are permitted at all sites and in all buildings.
  • An adult changing table is available at Fort Mackinac.

Mobility

Outdoor surfaces are wooden boardwalks, grass, and concrete. 

Getting to Fort Mackinac

Passenger ferries and airplanes take visitors to Mackinac Island. Two private companies operate boats to the island from St. Ignace and Mackinaw City. Air-taxi service from Pellston and St. Ignace is also available. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on Mackinac Island; however, personal motorized devices are allowed with permission. Please contact us for more details.

Fort Mackinac’s most accessible entrance is located on the north side of the site and can be reached in several ways. The most immediate route from downtown is to follow Fort Street up the west side of the fort. This road is very steep and may be difficult for some visitors. Other less direct roads also lead to the north entrance.

The ramp leading to the south entrance has 27 steps at the top. This entrance is NOT accessible for visitors using wheelchairs, and may be limited for strollers. Horse-drawn carriage tours and taxis leaving from downtown locations will transport visitors to the north side of the fort. A taxi with a lift may be available; contact 906.847.3323 for taxi information.

Difficult Access

Five to eight entrance steps to these buildings may make access for visitors with mobility impairments:

  • Post Bathhouse (4)
  • Reading Room* (9)
  • North Blockhouse* (10)
  • West Blockhouse (12)
  • Tea Room* (15)
  • South Sally Port Entrance/Exit* (18)
  • Upper Gun Platform* (19)
  • East Blockhouse* (20)
* Alternate program provided.
 
Moderate Access Locations

Access may be limited for some visitors with mobility impairments in these buildings:

  • The Officers’ Hill Quarters (11) has narrow hallways, thresholds and stairs to the second floor. It may be difficult to turn around in a wheelchair or motorized scooter in the house.
  • Two entrance steps lead to the Guardhouse (17).

Alternate Building Entrances

The following buildings have alternate ramped entrances:

  • Enter the Post Headquarters (2) through the Quartermaster’s Storehouse (3).
  • Enter the Officers’ Stone Quarters (14) through the back porch of the building.

Alternate Entrances

  • The ramp leading to the South Sally Port (18) entrance is very steep and there are 27 steps at the top. This entrance is NOT accessible for visitors using wheelchairs. Please use Fort Street to connect you to the Avenue of Flags (8).
  • A small elevator in the Soldiers’ Barracks (7) connects the two levels of Fort Mackinac. The elevator accommodates only smaller motorized wheelchairs. Elevator entrance locations: Parade Ground Level: Near Restrooms (6); Avenue of Flags Level: Barracks rear porch, second door.
  • Alternate North Sally Port (5) entrance to lower level.

Alternate Programs

  • Accessible service for the Tea Room (15) is available on the covered piazza at the rear of the Officers’ Stone Quarters (14).
  • The cannon demonstration, located up a flight of stairs on the Gun Platform (19), is available on-demand on a television monitor at the Water Well (21). All other scheduled programs are held in accessible areas.
  • A video program is available west of the North Blockhouse (10) exhibit, featuring alternate programs for the North Blockhouse (10), Reading Room (9), and East Blockhouse (20).

Sensory Considerations

There is a schedule of programs available by clicking here, posted at both ticket locations, and provided with ticket purchase. Below are some things to consider during your visit:
  • General:
    • Visiting Fort Mackinac is a mostly outdoor experience. The weather can change quickly in northern Michigan, ranging from hot to cold, calm to very windy, and dry to humid and rainy.
    • While usually not too bad, a variety of insects may be present while visiting the fort.
    • Snacks and drinks can be enjoyed throughout Fort Mackinac.
    • Some spaces, including the boardwalks around the fort, may become crowded.  
  • Sights
    • Museum staff wearing military uniforms and other historical clothing are stationed throughout the site.
    • There are life-sized moving figures projected onto the walls in the Guardhouse (17), Post Hospital (13), and North Blockhouse (10). 
    • There are realistic mannequins in the Wood Quarters (16) and the Post Hospital (13). 
    • Some exhibit spaces are purposefully kept dark. Others are brightly lit. 
    • Cannon and rifle demonstrations will produce sparks and smoke.
  • Sounds
    • Museum staff will loudly announce the beginning of all programs.
    • Cannon and rifle demonstrations include firings of those weapons, which will be loud. Museum staff will warn visitors about the noise prior to all firings.
    • A loud siren will sound from the downtown area every day at 12:00 noon to mark the time.
    • The Kids’ Quarters (14) and North Blockhouse (10) exhibits include loud recorded sounds and music.
    • Loud noises from elsewhere on Mackinac Island can be heard inside the fort. These include boat horns, and low flying aircraft. 
  • Smells
    • The fort’s buildings are original and may smell musty.
    • The smoke from cannon and rifle demonstrations will smell, but will dissipate quickly following firings.
    • Wood smoke may occasionally be produced from the Officer’s Stone Quarters (14) if the fireplaces are in use (limited to especially cool days). 

Program Bulletins

Click any link below for a PDF program bulletin:

Social Story Guide

Click here for a PDF social story for a visit to Fort Mackinac.

All Accessibility at Mackinac State Historic Parks

Click here for access concerns at all Mackinac State Historic Parks sites.