The beauty of camping and outdoor recreation is the chance to connect with nature, becoming immersed in idyllic surroundings, physical activity, and mental clarity. Individuals with mobility challenges, however, might find themselves or their families grappling with those same surroundings, meant to give them peace.
Several of Colorado’s state parks, national parks, and private campgrounds thankfully had this in mind when mapping out their areas and offerings. Check out these suggested grounds for an accessible family camping trip.
There are 27 state park campgrounds in Colorado that cite accessible camp areas. To find the sites in parks across Colorado, visit cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/parks, then click on the campsite maps. Here are a couple to explore.
Minutes away from Pueblo’s restaurants and shopping centers, this getaway at Lake Pueblo offers the highest number of listed accessible camping sites—22—spread across three different campground areas. Enjoy some relaxation along the shore with a picnic, spot wildlife, or reel in some fish from an accessible fishing pier. RV and tent camping are both available. All sites consist of a paved parking area, covered picnic table, and fire pit. Electrical campgrounds also feature flush toilets, showers, dump stations, and playgrounds. $22-$36 per night.
Dubbed “the Switzerland of America,” the San Juan mountains in the Ridgway State Park area provide magnificent views for campers. Find modern, universally accessible recreation areas for fishing, picnicking, and playing near a five-mile long reservoir. Campsites for RVs, trailers, campers, motor homes, and tents are available; six sites are labeled accessible. Try a yurt for something different—Yurt #10 is designated universally accessible and is next to a year-round restroom. $18-$90 depending on type of camping and season.
Families who visit the parks frequently should look into the Columbine Park Pass. The $14 annual pass gives Colorado residents with a total and permanent disability access to Colorado’s state parks year-round and is transferable between vehicles as long as the pass holder is present.
If your family loves fishing, check your campground’s proximity to accessible fishing locations. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife website has lists of these docks and piers categorized by region. Residents of the Centennial state who are totally and permanently disabled can also apply for a free lifetime fishing license.
The strength and beauty of water and rock formations are on full display at the Curecanti National Recreation Area and nearby Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Enjoy Curecanti’s four accessible overlooks including the Dillon Pinnacles. Take an hour trip to the Black Canyon and peer into the depths of fractured earth from the heights of the South Rim’s Cedar Point Nature Trail. Check out the canyon’s South Rim Visitor Center, then nearby amphitheater for ranger programs during the summer. Finally, relax at one of Curecanti’s multiple accessible campsites and amenities along the Blue Mesa Reservoir.
Mountains of solid rock stand behind mountains of sand at the Great Sand Dunes park where visitors wonder at the desert formation seemingly dropped into the Rockies. Pull up to an accessible mat at the dunes’ edge to spend time splashing at the Medano Creek, “Colorado’s Natural Beach.” Stop by the visitor center to grab snacks and learn more about the area. You can also inquire about their sand wheelchairs (in limited supply), which have large inflatable tires that make short trips across loose sand possible. End the day with campsite relaxation and stargazing. There are five accessible spots at the Piñon Flats Campground.
Enjoy Rocky Mountain National Park, Hovenweep, and Dinosaur national park campgrounds for more accessible camping and activities.
If camping with no activity-planning stress sounds good to you and the kiddos, take your goodly bunch to this newly-renovated 100-acre resort offering RV, tent, and cabin lodging (pick Ranger Smith cabins with a ramp). Find a restaurant, zero-entry waterpark, paved mini golf course, arts and crafts, and more right on the campgrounds easily accessible from I-25. Savor some s’mores at your own firepit in the evening and tuck into bed or a sleeping bag after a satisfying day.
Hiking, fishing, and camping among the trees and tall mountains is super attainable on these wheelchair-centered grounds. Roll and stroll up and around an eight-foot wide, one-mile long boardwalk through the pines and aspens. Find your way to a spring-fed pond filled with rainbow trout where disabled fishers can practice without a license. Settle in to universally accessible tent, hut, and cabin sites complete with cookers (bring your own charcoal) and fire pits (wood supplied). Summer 2020 camping has been canceled due to the novel coronavirus, but look forward to spending time at WOW next year.