A Wheelchair User’s Guide to Uxmal
If you plan a trip to the inland part of the Yucatan, you’re in for a treat since most tourists flock to its beaches. So, while those people get sunburned as they drink their fourth margarita, you’ll get to enjoy the Yucatan countryside, which is filled with forested roads, cute towns, and perhaps most notably of all, Uxmal.
Since even the most developed areas of Mexico present their difficulties for wheelchair users, you understandably want to know what accessibility is like at Uxmal. I’ll share my observations here with the hope of making your trip to this UNESCO site run as smoothly as possible.
Note: The information here is based on my observation as a non-wheelchair user. If you have firsthand experience as a wheelchair user in Uxmal, please let me know about your time there and your recommendations in the comments section. I appreciate it and know that our future readers will, too!
General Accessibility at Uxmal
The frontmost portion of the Uxmal ruins is wheelchair accessible, although this is unfortunately a small percentage of the property.
However, you’ll have the opportunity to wheel up to the pyramid that makes Uxmal known for being a more tourist-free version of Chichen Itza.
I’ll soon take you on a photo journey of the accessible areas at Uxmal, but I wanted to give you an overview here first.
As a disclaimer, the day I visited was the first day they opened up more of the ruins after they had shut them down due to COVID-19. However, many areas were still roped off.
Below is a map outlining the areas that people could explore the day of my visit. The bold black line is what you need to look at.
“Acceso” means entrance and “Salida” means exit.
As a wheelchair user, you’ll have access to explore the “Acceso” line until it hits the white building (there are stairs there). You can then backtrack around the pyramid (the round structure at the front of the map) and follow the “Salida” line until it hits the structure since that’s where the stairs start.
The “Acceso” area has a gravel path, although you’re allowed to go into the grass if you wish.
The “Salida” path is only grass, and there are some rocks and protruding tree roots you’ll need to work around the closer you get to the building.
As for the large chunk of grassy area between the black lines, that would technically be accessible if you wanted to roll through the grass. However, it was roped off the day of my visit—whether it’s always that way or because of COVID-19, I’m not sure.
If all these explanations sound confusing, don’t worry; this is just to give you a general overview. I’ll show you the accessibile areas using photos shortly.
Accessible Parking at Uxmal
Everything about the Uxmal parking lot indicated there should be an accessible parking spot—you can even see the well-marked ramp leading from the parking lot to the entrance in the photo above. The parking lot was also massive and spacious.
But after making two laps around it, I couldn’t find a single accessible parking space.
So, this is my recommendation—either have someone drop you off by the ramp in the photo above or drive past that ramp and take a right; there’s a large parking area there that most cars don’t know about, so you’ll most likely be able to form your own accessible parking space.
The good news is that the Uxmal parking lot rarely gets crowded. Large tour buses don’t frequent there, and tourists usually trickle in throughout the day.
That’s right—unlike so many other sites in Mexico, you won’t hear me preaching that you need to arrive to Uxmal early to see it better.
There are two restrooms at Uxmal, and one is wheelchair accessible.
The accessible restroom is in the open-air entrance area, to the left once you pass through the ticketing booth.
Since someone was using the accessible stall when I was there, I didn’t get to peek inside to see if it’s ADA compliant. However, I can tell you that it appeared to be large and the sinks for washing your hands are low.
Exploring Uxmal by Wheelchair
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I’ll use them to show you the wheelchair accessible areas of Uxmal.
Ready to get started?
Below is the entrance to Uxmal. The windows on the left are the ticket booths.
After passing through the spacious, open-air ticketing and souvenir shop, you’ll follow this path to enter the ruins:
The path to get to the ruins is cement and isn’t very long. There’s a slight incline as you approach them, as seen here:
The path will drop you off here, which is at Uxmal’s pyramid. This is the one famed for being like Chichen Itza (and I agree with the comparison!).
You’re welcome to wheel around in the grass to get closer to the pyramid. The ground was firm the day I visited, but I’m not sure how muddy it gets when it rains.
This is the gravel path you can use instead of, or in addition to, the grass.
Another view of the gravel path and the area behind the pyramid.
This is the end of the accessible path that leads from the entrance. Be prepared to see lots of iguanas while in Uxmal—can you spot two posing for the camera in the photo below?
I climbed up the steps you saw in the photo above to give you perspective of how long the path is from the entrance of the ruins to where the inaccessible area begins.
This next photo is after backtracking the same path you just took along the side of the pyramid. When your return to face the front of the pyramid, take a left through the grass and you’ll arrive there within a minute.
Note: The photo doesn’t show the rope that prevents people from entering this area. Hopefully, it’s a COVID-19 rope and not a permanent rope, as this would offer wheelchair users more freedom to explore Uxmal.
If you keep heading in that same direction, the grass will turn into this rocky path:
If you choose to tackle the rocks, you’ll get to see a couple of buildings like the one below. This is about as far as you’ll be able to go before encountering steps.
Where to Eat
You can easily visit Uxmal between mealtimes, as you likely won’t spend more than an hour or so at the ruins.
However, if hunger strikes or you’d like to plan your day around eating to extend your time there, you have two main options.
The first is to eat right at Uxmal. They offer a tourist multi-course menu for under $15 USD.
The restaurant is accessible and located in the entrance area, but this is super important to note—the restaurant is set far back from Uxmal, so your only view will be of trees, not of the ruins.
Since you’ll already be paying above average prices for food in the area, I recommend going all out and eating at Coole Chepa Chi.
This gorgeous accessible restaurant is part of a hotel on the side road leading to Uxmal. Don’t worry, it’s impossible to miss when you’re arriving since everyone has to pass by there to get to Uxmal’s parking lot.
You can either drive to this restaurant or take a stroll there from the ruins down a quiet, paved road, which will take you around 5 – 10 minutes, per your preference.
The restaurant is on the pricey side, but it specializes in fine Yucatan food, including steak and seafood.
Is Exploring Uxmal Worth It?
Although Uxmal is beautiful, the majority of its grounds unfortunately don’t have the infrastructure for wheelchair users. Nevertheless, if you’re already planning on being in the area, such as if you’re visiting Merida, then I think visiting Uxmal is worth it.
However, if you’re debating between visiting Uxmal or Chichen Itza, I hands-down recommend Chichen Itza.
The reason for this is that Chichen Itza offers excellent paths throughout the property where wheelchair users can access nearly all the ruins.
If you’re interested in visiting Chichen Itza, you might want to take a peek at our Chichen Itza Wheelchair Guide to get a better idea of what accessibility is like there.
Wheeling Around the Yucatan?
If so, good news!
We’ve put together several other accessible blog posts on destinations around Mexico’s Caribbean peninsula. Check them out below:
Is Uxmal on Your Bucket List?
If you still have lingering questions about wheelchair accessibility in Uxmal, leave a comment and I’ll do my best to help.
Should you visit Uxmal, it would mean a lot to me and future readers if you returned to this page. We’d love to hear about your experience, recommendations, and anything else that could help future wheelchair travelers considering a visit to Uxmal.
Wishing you a wonderful trip!
Laura’s love for traveling started with a trip to Jamaica. Since then, she’s spent over five years living in Latin America and four years wandering the globe. She’s an early bird and backpacker at heart and can often be spotted with a dog or ten that she’s befriended along the way. Much of the content Laura writes on A Piece of Travel includes details on wheelchair accessibility, with the support of her brother-in-law and sister. You can learn about their accessibility endeavors here.