The Ultimate Colorado Bucket List for Wheelchair Users

14 min read

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a must on your Colorado bucket list!

Colorado offers something for everyone, including four national parks, mountain vistas, desert-like scenery, history, and winter sports. It is a diverse state that attempts to include people of all abilities.

This Colorado bucket list for wheelchair users will cover many of the amazing attractions and famous landmarks available when visiting the state, whether you are in a wheelchair or have limited mobility. Continue reading to learn more!

  • 25 Colorado things to do

25 Best Things to Do in Colorado for Wheelchair Users

Colorado Things to Do Map

A map of Colorado. Use the map to explore all the things to do.

Why visit Colorado as a wheelchair user?

Colorado should be on your bucket list because it has diverse scenery and epic experiences. You can hike through a state park with an adapted wheelchair, be awe-inspired by the views, and even go whitewater rafting. It is also very accessible and inclusive so that people of all abilities can enjoy their visit!

Top Things to Do in Colorado for Wheelchair Users

Wondering what accessible things to do and places to visit during your trip to Colorado? No problem! Here are the top 25 wheelchair-accessible, bucket list-worthy items for the state of Colorado.

Check out Denver

The Mile-High City makes a great base for exploring nearby areas as well as offering plenty of wheelchair-accessible things to do.

Activities for your Denver itinerary can include visiting the Denver Art Museum to satisfy your creative side, touring the Denver Mint to see how coins are made, and taking a peaceful roll through Denver's Botanic Gardens.

Lovers of the Wild West should plan to head to the Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave Site. The museum offers incredible views from the top of Lookout Mountain and has both permanent and yearly rotating exhibits.

Pro Tip: To avoid moving around a lot during your stay, you can use Denver as a base for several other activities on this Colorado bucket list. This includes:

  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Mount Evans
  • Red Rock Amphitheater
  • Stanley Hotel
  • Staunton State Park
  • Dinosaur Ridge
  • Georgetown Loop Railroad
The beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park

Explore Rocky Mountain National Park

Perfect for mountain lovers, Rocky Mountain National Park offers scenic drives, accessible hiking trails, gorgeous scenery, and the opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife.

Keep an eye out for elk, moose, mule deer, Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and marmots. Sprague Lake, Lily Lake, and Coyote Valley are some of the best wheelchair-accessible trails.

You could easily spend an entire day in this West Coast National Park and not see everything. If you only have one day, make sure to get an early start to make the most of your time here.

It is recommended, however, that you spend at least two days in the Rocky Mountains. Check the government website to see if reservations are required for your visit.

See a Concert at the Red Rock Amphitheater

For a fun and scenic experience, get tickets to a concert at the Red Rock Amphitheater (the world's only naturally-occurring amphitheater with perfect acoustics).

They have seating for wheelchair users and people with limited mobility. Famous musicians who have played here include U2, James Taylor, Coldplay, The Eagles, Dave Mathews Band, and the Moody Blues.

Go on a Ghost Tour at the Stanley Hotel

For a spooky and fun tour, sign up for a haunted tour of the historic Stanley Hotel. Made famous as the inspiration for Stephen King's "The Shining," it has a history of guests hearing disembodied voices and being touched by something or someone that they can't see. The tour covers the hotel's history, the stories about the spirits that are said to haunt it, and what activity occurs here.

You can even choose to spend the night at the hotel if you are brave enough. There are specific rooms known for their paranormal activity, as well as less active rooms. People who require an accessible room should call to make reservations.

Take a Ride on the Georgetown Loop Railway

For an enjoyable and scenic ride on a historic train, make sure to add the Georgetown Loop Railroad to your Colorado bucket list.

The steam engine will safely navigate you through the mountains before stopping at its second station, where there is a small museum and the opportunity to watch how they refill the engine with water. There are also actors on the train that dress in period clothing and interact with the crowd.

About halfway through your ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad, you'll make a brief stop where passengers can get off and explore some former gold mines.

While the mines themselves are not accessible, if you make arrangements ahead of your trip, you can learn how to pan for gold and get a chance to try it yourself! Hopefully, you'll yell, "Eureka!" once you find some of this precious metal.

Take a Photo at the Continental Divide

The continental divide is an imaginary line that separates the United States into the east and the west. It is a fun, quick photo stop for people who want to visit various sites that fall under the National Park Service umbrella. You can find the continental divide running through Rocky Mountain National Park and between the towns of Estes Park and Grand Lake.

View from the summit of Mount Evans

Drive to the Summit of Mount Evans

While the drive may not be for the faint of heart, the views at the summit are incredible. You can see for miles. Just be aware that the drive often has no guard rails and can be narrow in some spots. Drive slowly, enjoy the views and keep an eye out for wildlife along the way. It is common to see mountain goats, elk, and Bighorn sheep.

Visit the Royal Gorge Bridge

There are two ways you can experience the Royal Gorge Bridge. First, you can go to the bridge itself and roll across it if you're not afraid of heights (or take the gondola to get better views of the bridge itself). The second way is to take a train ride through the bottom of the gorge and see the bridge from below. Both are great and offer beautiful views.

When visiting the bridge, there is also a movie that talks about the area's history and how the bridge was constructed to be accessible. If you can climb a few steps, you can also zipline over the gorge.

Go for a Dip at Durango Hot Springs Resort & Spa

If all this adventure gets you a little worn down, then spend a relaxing day at the Durango Hot Springs Resort and Spa. They offer 26 mineral pools of varying temperatures (11 of which are ADA accessible) and a swimming pool.

This resort is both couple and family-friendly and makes an effort to include people of all abilities so that they can benefit from the facilities too. Reservations are required.

Visit Colorado Springs

South of Denver, Colorado Springs offers visitors a fantastic base to explore the surrounding attractions. Visiting this city will allow you to explore nature, experience the arts and fun indoor activities, learn a little about history, and so much more. There are plenty of accessible things to do and places to stay to ensure you have an amazing holiday!

You can even use a terrain hopper in the area's trailability program. A terrain hopper is another type of all-terrain vehicle used for people with mobility problems. It has four wheels and can be steered by either the handlebars or a joystick. This program is offered free of charge at Bear Creek and Fountain Creek Nature Centers.

See the Garden of the Gods

One of the most iconic places to visit in Colorado Springs is the Garden of the Gods, even in the fall. This park allows you to experience red rock formations that are mother nature's own works of art.

Stop by the Visitor Center for a guide to the formations, an informative video, and other displays. Then drive around and be amazed. Accessible paths and hikes are also available if you want to get up close to these awe-inspiring rocks.

Check out Pikes Peak

While you may have summited some of the mountains near Denver, Pikes Peak offers slightly different scenery and experiences.

You can choose to drive to the summit, which allows you to stop at various lookouts along the way, or take the cog railway so that everyone can enjoy the views. At the summit, there are pathways and viewing areas that are fully accessible so that you can take in the views.

At the shop, you can find souvenirs, accessible bathrooms, and the famous donuts that you will hear everyone raving about. Seriously, you must try the donuts!

Stop by the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center

A true treat for any animal lover is a visit to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. Plan ahead and sign up for an hour-long guided tour of the facility, where you will get the chance to get up close to the wolves. At the end of your tour, you can howl with the wolves for a really neat experience. For many, this is one of the highlights of the tour!

At Dinosaur Ridge, dinosaur footprints have been dyed to make them easier to see

Look for Dinosaur Footprints

A short one-mile trail at Dinosaur Ridge near Morrison, Colorado, and just east of the Red Rocks Amphitheater, allows visitors to look for dinosaur footprints and even fossilized dinosaur bones that are immortalized in the rocky ledges.

The paved path has both inclines and declines that powered wheelchair and mobility scooter users should have no problem with. If you are using a manual wheelchair, you may need some assistance.

If you'd rather not walk the trail, there are tour buses that leave from the small museum and visitor center. These tours include guides to help answer questions and point out interesting features. Signage is also available along the trail.

Grab a Meal at the Broadmoor Hotel

This luxury resort is an experience in and of itself. When you enter the hotel, you'll be surrounded by history and artwork that will make you feel like a king or queen in some incredible palace.

There are several restaurants onsite offering a variety of chef-prepared foods. A popular meal to enjoy is breakfast or brunch. It's a great way to start your day before heading to Seven Falls!

Be Amazed by Seven Falls

Seven Falls is the perfect stop for anyone who enjoys waterfalls. No parking is available at the falls, but an accessible shuttle is happy to transport you free of charge. Once you get off the shuttle, you can roll or walk down the paved path at the bottom of a canyon or pay a small fee to take the shuttle.

The viewing platform is fully accessible thanks to an elevator, with informative signs along the way. For those with better mobility, you can climb the slick metal steps that parallel the falls to access additional trails and another waterfall.

Try Adaptive Skiing

Want a thrilling winter experience? Then consider participating in one of Colorado's adaptive skiing programs! Special equipment and training have made skiing more accessible. There are both mono-ski and bi-ski equipment available, as well as training and guidance to help you meet your goals.

Programs are located throughout the state and at the most popular ski destinations, like Denver, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Durango, Crested Butte, Breckenridge, Telluride, Aspen, and Beaver Creek. No matter where you go in Colorado, there should be a program near you!

Explore Great Sand Dunes National Park

While the popular activity of sand sledding may not be wheelchair accessible, you can still experience the park and the sand dunes thanks to the availability of an all-terrain beach wheelchair. If you'd like to use one of these wheelchairs, head to the visitor center to sign one out for free. You just need to leave your driver's license as a deposit!

A scenic drive is also available but advised only for vehicles with four-wheel or all-wheel drive due to the sandy conditions. Check to see if any ranger programs are happening during your visit, as they are always a great way to learn more about the park!

Riding in a track chair makes trails more accessible and provides lots of confidence

Try a Track Chair at Staunton State Park

About forty miles from Denver, this state park is one of the few in the country that allows visitors with mobility problems to use an all-terrain track chair. This is an adapted wheelchair that, instead of wheels, has tracks that are like those found on tanks. This allows the chair to go over almost any type of terrain and makes trails that are otherwise inaccessible possible.

At Staunton State Park, there are three different trails you can use the track chair on. A volunteer will accompany you in case you have any questions or problems. If needed, they can even operate the chair for you. You will just need to be able to transfer into the track chair or bring someone to assist you with the transfer.

Getting to drive this adapted wheelchair is incredibly freeing and liberating. You may even momentarily forget that you have mobility problems!

Check out the Views at Mesa Verde National Park

One of the lesser accessible national parks, Mesa Verde, is still a Colorado bucket list item, even for wheelchair users.

Accessible viewing areas are limited due to the steep paths, but you can still get some good views from the Mesa Top Loop drive. Make sure also to check out the small museum within the park. Using the Gypsy app will help you make the most of your visit.

Try Adapted Whitewater Rafting

If you've always dreamed of taking on the rapids in a raft or kayak but didn't think you could due to being a wheelchair user, guess again!

There is a company that is willing to work with your needs and craft a unique experience just for you. You can choose between a full-day or multi-day trip. Call ahead to discuss your needs and what accommodation can be provided.

Take an Adapted Bike Ride

Nature calls to many, but it is not always easy for those with mobility problems to get out and explore. Now, you can use an adapted bike to navigate trails and experience all that mother nature offers!

Bikes are adapted for either leg or arm use and come in various styles. Instructors will help you choose the best bike for you and give you all the necessary information to use it.

Then comes the decision of what type of ride you want! You can choose to mountain bike, downhill mountain bike (which doesn't require much exertion on your part), or road cycle.

Pulpit Rock overlook at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Due to how secluded it is, Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the lesser-visited national parks for wheelchair users. However, it would be a shame to miss it as the views are incredible and it has good accessibility!

The park has two sections, the north rim and the south rim, and each offers accessible overlooks and scenic drives. The drive to the bottom of the canyon provides a different perspective and is also worth doing.

Make sure not to forget to visit the park at night as it is considered a "dark park," which means there is little light pollution, and it is a fantastic spot for star gazing!

Try Sled Hockey

Played just like traditional ice hockey, this adaptive sport uses specialized sleds to allow players to navigate the ice. Players also use two sticks that have been altered to not only control the puck but also help you propel the sled.

Colorado Sled Hockey allows people to be introduced to the sport by providing all the necessary equipment. Contact the organization for opportunities to try sled hockey and if you have any questions about whether this sport is right for you.

Visit Dinosaur National Monument

Although technically, Dinosaur National Monument is in both Colorado and Utah, it should still be on your Colorado bucket list! You can see a whole wall of dinosaur bones and even touch them! There is also a scenic drive that offers the chance to look for petroglyphs.

The trails to the petroglyphs are not wheelchair accessible, but you can see many of them from your car. Just make sure to bring binoculars to get the best views. The small building that houses the dinosaur bones is fully accessible.

When is the best time to visit Colorado?

The best time to visit Colorado will depend on what activities you are hoping to do. For example, if you would like to try an adaptive skiing program or sled hockey, then you'll want to visit during the winter months.

However, if you want to summit some magnificent mountains or go white water rafting, then summer and early fall will be the best times to visit.

What's the weather like in Colorado?

The weather will vary by your location within the state; however, the summer temperatures can reach the mid-eighties, and the heat can feel more intense due to the higher elevations. Typically, July is the hottest month.

Fall and spring have a wide span of temperatures ranging from the mid-forties to the low eighties. Winter is the coldest time to visit, with temperatures averaging forty-five degrees.

Be aware that temperatures will be cooler if you plan to go into the mountains. Sometimes, it can be hot in town and snow at the summit of the mountains. It is best to bring layers so that you are comfortable while exploring the state.

Conclusion

Colorado is an excellent state to visit if you are a wheelchair user or have mobility problems. It allows you to connect with nature and has something for everyone to enjoy.

Hopefully, this once-in-a-lifetime things to do in Colorado list for wheelchair users has enticed you to visit and highlighted all the wonderful things the state has to offer.

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Written by Kristin Secor

WorldonWheelsBlog BLOGGER Kristin is an accessible travel blogger. She aims to provide helpful information about accessible travel to inspire and help you plan your next trip. As a wheelchair user herself, she has lots of firsthand experience and wants to share her passion and knowledge of accessible travel with you.


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