Accessible National Parks in Colorado

Our National Park Service’s anniversary is August 25, with free entry on this day in 2021!

The national parks also have discounted passes, opens a new window for older adults, veterans and people with permanent disabilities.

Visit one of the amazing national parks here in Colorado that have standout accessibility, historic significance, unique features and stunning scenery.

Books

Check out these books for more inspiration before your visit:

The Complete Guide to the National Parks of the West

Complete National Parks of the United States : Featuring 400+ Parks, Monuments, Battlefields, Historic Sites, Scenic Trails, Recreation Areas, and Seashores

Great Sand Dunes 

Hours from Denver: 4 hours 

The Great Sand Dunes are the tallest sand dunes in North America and are surrounded by a diversity of grasslands, wetlands, forests and tundra. They are truly spectacular to see and provide plenty of activities such as sand sledding, hiking and even nighttime stargazing. 

Learn more about the Great Sand Dune's unique history, breathtaking photography and hiking trails in the Arapahoe Libraries collection. 

Pros: 

  • Sand wheelchairs with trained guides to take visitors out into the sand. You can reserve a child or adult chair in advance at 719-378-6395. 
  • Has wide, compacted paths to the edge of Medano Creek with a viewing platform just above the creek bed. 
  • Several short, less than a mile trails, as well longer ones that are many miles. Try the ¼ mile interpretive grasslands Sand Sheet Loop or the scenic Montville Nature Trail. 

Cons: 

  • The wind. This can be a bit much as it can whip around and get into your eyes and...everywhere. 
  • The sand dunes are a popular and sometimes crowded destination. It can take over an hour to get into the park during the most popular months of May and June. 
  • The sand can get very hot during peak afternoon hours. To avoid this, go in the early morning or evening. 

Colorado National Monument   

Hours from Denver: 4–6, depending on I-70 traffic 

Colorado National Monument has grand geological formations, remarkable canyons and unusual soil patterns called biological soil crust. This is a great place for photography, picnics and the breathtaking and historic Rim Rock drive is not to be missed! Colorado National Monument has many accessible features, opens a new window, including a map.

Pros: 

  • Independence Monument View and Cold Shivers Point have accessible overlooks along Rim Rock Drive. 
  • There are two picnic areas and a campground that are wheelchair accessible. 
  • The Alcove Nature Trail has a 5-foot-wide compacted surface and leads 1/4 mile to an overlook of upper Wedding Canyon. It is suitable for people who use assistive devices such as canes or walkers. 
  • For hearing accommodation, the visitor center has captioned informational videos and provides induction loop as well as T-coil enabled hearing aid assisted listening devices. 
  •  Handheld audio description tour devices are available. 

Cons: 

  • The Rim Rock Drive is narrow and steep, with cliff dropoffs in some sections. If you are afraid of heights, be aware that some sections of Rim Rock Drive could be challenging.  
  • Motorists and bicyclists share the road, use caution when on tight corners and hills. 

Rocky Mountain National Park  

Hours from Denver: 23, depending on greater Denver and mountain traffic 

The vast beautiful Rocky Mountain National Park has many trails and natural areas with various accessible features. My favorite, the most stellar ones, are below. 

Coyote Valley Trail  

This trail on the western side of the park is one of my personal favorites. It is packed down firm with gravel and more level than other park trails, with a wide path. It is one of the most beautiful in the park and is 1mile, out and back. There are also many benches along the trail and creek to rest and take in the spectacular views. 

Lily Lake  

Lily Lake is one of the more unique trails for everyone to enjoy in the outdoors. This outdoor excursion has a level ¾-mile trail, picnicking and a pond with fishing, all with wheelchair accessibility. This is a good place for birdwatching and to see wildflowers. There are also magnificent views of the Estes Cone peak and the surrounding wilderness.   

Bear Lake Trail

Free shuttle buses operate in the Bear Lake Corridor of the park. All park shuttle buses are accessible with wheelchair lifts and tie downs and assistance from the driver is available.

Beak Lake itself is surrounded by a half-mile packed gravel trail, a short distance from the parking lot. The first part of the trail in either direction is flat and fully wheelchair accessible to a point. If you continue around the lake, you will encounter steps and assistance may be needed given the grade varies between 8-14%. This popular trail is a great place to view Hallett Peak and Longs Peak reflecting off the lake and you''ll see plenty of aspens especially in fall.

Sprague Lake Trail 

There are accessible picnic tables and a 3/4-mile flat packed gravel trail around Sprague Lake. Benches and fishing platforms are also located along this trail. This trail is less busy and great for anyone looking for a peaceful stroll.

There is also an accessible campsite located nearby at Sprague Lake Camp. This wilderness campsite is a half mile from the parking lot and accommodates up to 12 campers, including a maximum of five wheelchairs.

Holzwarth Historic Site (Honorable Mention)

This site has accessible parking, but the lot is unpaved. The half-mile gravel trail to the site is accessible with a couple of benches along the way. There is a good chance you will see moose or elk in the surrounding areas. In the summer, a staff-operated golf cart is available to take visitors to the site. The inside of the historic structures is not wheelchair accessible, and the areas around the buildings are rough and unpaved. 


Other Rocky Mountain National Park accommodations 

  • A sign language interpreter can be provided with advance notice to accompany the ranger during the ranger-led program. Call the park's main number 970-586-1206 for more information. 
  • Assisted listening devices are available for all ranger-led programs. 
  • Park films have captioning at Beaver Meadows and Kawuneeche visitor centers, with audio description at Beaver Meadows Visitor Center. 
  • Two campgrounds, Moraine Park and Timber Creek, have accessible campsites. Holders of the America the Beautiful Access Passes and Golden Age Passes campers get a 50% discount.
  • Rocky Mountain National Park partners with The Disabled Traveler’s Companion, opens a new window for additional information. 

Additional National Park Resources

The National Park Service has virtual ongoing events, opens a new window in addition to web cams and photo galleries such as those from Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison., opens a new window 

Check out some of our fantastic resources on National Parks or equipment too, such as video/photography equipment or GPS units that are available for check out.   

If you're looking to discover Colorado's state parks, place a hold on a state parks pass. Check out the Colorado Go Outside Guide list and, for other exploration possibilities, use an Exploration Pass to visit a museum or cultural institution for free!

Arapahoe Libraries has a plethora of resources on Rocky Mountain National Park for you to check out such as streaming videos, books and eBooks.

Other National Parks in Colorado you might want to consider visiting that have some moderate level of accessibility and ease are the Sand Creek Massacre, opens a new windowBent’s Old Fort, opens a new window or the Florissant Fossil Beds., opens a new window 

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