branch brushes your arm as the horse you sit atop rambles slowly along
the mountain path. A lone bird calls quietly in the twilight, and you
pull your horse off the path to join a group of campers for dinner over
an open fire. Or perhaps you’d prefer clutching an oar as you help
guide a rubber raft through water tumbling over rocks and cascading through
gorges. Then again, maybe skiing is more your thing. Shooting behind you
sprays of white powder, you descend the Rockies curve by curve, sun warming
your back as you glide down the slopes.
Colorado offers a variety of vacation possibilities, from the chilling
to the thrilling, and the state is working to ensure they can be enjoyed
by all. The Colorado Division of Wildlife manages statewide accessible
fishing areas, maintains a variety of fully accessible wildlife-watching
sites, and facilitates special wildlife recreation accommodation permits
for hunters with mobility-related disabilities. Colorado State Parks hosts
an online listing of accessible camping and fishing sites and recreational
activities for all its 40 state parks. The state parks system also offers
free admission to any vehicle with disabled veteran license plates.
“Colorado is well-known for exceptional adaptive skiing and winter
sports programs at many of our ski resorts,” said Stephen Szapor,
chair of the Colorado Tourism Office Board. Just as impressive, he notes,
are other activities that can be enjoyed year-round. “Summer is
especially rich in accessible and adaptive adventure opportunities—from
enjoying a scenic hike or rock climbing to visiting a museum exhibit or
sitting by the lake and enjoying an alpine evening sunset.”
Because of Colorado’s breathtaking and varied scenery, an entire
vacation could be spent on the trails. Castlewood Canyon State Park in
central Colorado offers a 1.2-mile accessible path with beautiful overlooks
into the canyon and creek below and views across the park landscape. Similarly,
Colorado River State Park provides accessible fishing and camping, with
several different views to take in. Rocky Mountain National Park includes
a one-mile nature trail that wanders through elk and moose territory,
and another .6-mile trail that loops around Bear Lake—although this
trail is not as flat as others in Colorado parks.
Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs hosts stunning mountain views,
including a vista of 14,110-foot Pike’s Peak visible from the visitor
center, the trails and the campground. The campground is more than just
a place to watch the view and fall asleep, however. It is the social hub
of the park, hosting barbecues and entertainment all summer long.
Looking for something a bit more hands-on? Try fishing at Navajo State
Park. The park’s 15,000 surface-acre reservoir, which extends 35
miles south into New Mexico, makes fishing a true highlight. Major renovations
were recently completed at the park, and the campgrounds, picnic areas
and visitor center are all accessible. A brand-new accessible fishing
area is available as well, complete with a cabin.
Vega State Park is located at the west edge of Grand Mesa National Forest.
At a mild 8,000 feet in altitude, this park keeps vacationers coming back
every year. The Early Settlers and Pioneer campsites, the visitor center
and all cabins are accessible for people with disabilities, and an accessible
fishing pier is located at Oak Point.
Wilderness on Wheels has built a model wilderness access facility 60 miles
southwest of Denver. A mile-long, eight-foot-wide boardwalk rises through
the forest to a 12,300-foot mountain top. Vacationers can enjoy a summer
cookout with elevated grills or a picnic with tables that are accessible
to everyone. Campsites offer decks raised to the height of a wheelchair
seat. The trail is free, but reservations are required.
If you want to get in the water yourself, rather than pull things out
of it, you have options. Sign up for sea kayaking clinics in the Blue
Mesa Reservoir, the largest body of water in Colorado. You will learn
the ins and outs of kayaking using single and tandem kayaks. Explore some
of the inlets and sights around the lake. Clinics provide instruction,
equipment and lunch.
If you are seeking a relaxing experience along the river, the Adaptive
Sports Center’s Dominguez Canyon River Trip might be just the right
fit. Colorado residents call this deep red sandstone canyon the eighth
wonder of the world. Spend one or two nights along the water in the peaceful
canyon. During the day you can work on your canoe skills in the soft-flowing
river, or just settle back and float as you bask in the sun. This is a
trip to rejuvenate and take in the scenery. Enjoy the stars at night and
the gourmet meals prepared by the Adaptive Sports Center staff. Everything
is provided for you, including equipment, guiding, permits, food and instruction.
Whitewater rafting is a popular choice at the National Sports Center for
the Disabled (NSCD), based in Winter Park and Denver. The center offers
both half-day and full-day trips along the Colorado River and is planning
new programs for Colorado’s Front Range rivers. If you are looking
for a longer trip on the rapids, look to the 4-Day Raft Adventure through
the Adaptive Sports Association, based in Durango. Spend four days and
three nights on the Gunnison River experiencing mostly class I and II
rapids, with a few small IIIs that will provide an experience to talk
about for years to come.
The NSCD is a valuable place to visit, even for landlubbers. It is one
of the largest outdoor therapeutic recreation agencies in the world, with
a trained staff, an adaptive equipment lab and a repertoire of summer
and winter activities for everyone, from small families to large groups.
In addition to the water activities, the NSCD offers horseback riding,
mountain biking, golf, rock climbing, skiing and snowshoeing.…Continued
in ABILITY Magazine
Other articles in the Fran Drescher issue include Letter From The Editor,
The Cruise Controversy, Gillian Friedman, MD; Humor: Baseball for Lawyers;
Headlines: Lung cancer, MS, Harry Potter, Hearing Loss; Toys Theater:
Russian Performers Who Are Deaf; Hearing Loss: Role Models in Medicine;
NFB-Newsline: Phone Delivery; Recipes: Spice Up Your Life; Endometrial
Cancer: What All Women Should Know; Employment: On the Road With Ticket
To Work; Sixth Annual Event: World Ability Federation; Events and Conferences...