Do you have a friend who uses a wheelchair and is visiting from out of town?  Or perhaps someone you know, who uses a wheelchair, would enjoy some time out of their home and in your company?  Is a mobility-challenged senior in your life who, while they can walk does not have the stamina or stability to trek around the zoo, lake or hiking trail?  Are you, yourself, in a wheelchair but able to travel around town by bus or car?  There are a number of sites to visit and enjoy, which are wheelchair accessible.  Denver’s public transit buses and trains are all equipped to accommodate wheelchairs. Below are some suggestions about wheelchair accessible sites to consider visiting.  If you have additional ideas to share from your own experience, please let us know via the Facebook comment section at the end of this article.

Botanic Gardens

Botanic GardensThe outside garden areas are all beautifully sculpted with ample room to navigate on the concrete pathways.  Lush garden and landscaping arrangements, water gardens and sculptures abound in this peaceful urban setting.  There are no steep inclines to navigate, and plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal with the garden areas, whether in a chair full-time or not.  Lots of shade, too, for all to enjoy.  Almost all of the paths are wheelchair accessible, and only a few might require some assistance to get to and through.  The Japanese Garden and Bonsai Pavilion in particular are calming for the soul.

Larimer Square

The infamous section of Larimer Street is packed with small shops, restaurants and bars.  Just about all of them are wheelchair accessible, and the variety of options and attractions in Larimer Square can easily fill an afternoon or evening.  Treat yourself to a leisurely stroll and roll, visiting shops and stop in for a cool refreshing beverage and a bite to eat, either by yourself in your chair, or with friends or family.

Colorado State Capitol Building

Except for the capitol dome, which requires the use of stairs to get to, the building is wheelchair accessible.  It is open Monday through Friday from 10am until 3pm, and there is no charge to tour the building.  The artwork, statues and decorum inside the building are worthy of personally experiencing and enjoying.

Denver Art Museum

Denver Art MuseumOur art museum is completely wheelchair accessible, and with a depth and breadth of exhibits sure to captivate the interests of anyone.  From modern and indigenous arts, to photography, textile and graphic design, classic paintings and architecture, we are reminded of what artists bring to our world.  In the world of art, one can lose oneself in a world of beauty and wonder.

Lollipop Lake

Located in Garland Park, at South Holly Street and Cherry Creek Drive North, this little jewel of a lake is a haven for many types of water fowl.  There is a concrete path which encircles the lake, and the only obstacles of sorts on the path are the treats that the geese like to leave in their wake.  Well……geese gotta poop somewhere, eh?  A real nice feature of Lollipop Lake is its size and the neighborhood ambiance of the place.  It is small enough to keep us always within an easy distance of our cars, but large enough to lose ourselves in the beauty of the water and its winged inhabitants.  Heading east on the trail that encircles the lake, one can have a good workout heading towards Monaco Parkway and back, all within the confines of Garland Park.  This time of year is excellent for viewing all sorts of little ducklings and goslings, as well as some pelicans which occasionally visit, and a wide variety of other birds.

Washington Park

Washington Park DenverYour humble author is a Pisces, and as such my attention is often first drawn to places of water.  The north lake at Washington Park has a paved path encircling it, and is very wheelchair friendly.  At the south end of the lake, at the boat rental station and pavilion, there is a large paved area next to a playground.  If you have small grandchildren, a visit to this park allows room, accessibility and activities for all of the family.  The place is large, diverse in people and wildlife, beautiful and peaceful.  Washington Park is completely car-free and pavement allows travel by wheelchair around and through the entire park.  If one is of a mind for a real upper-body workout, laps around Wash Park will keep you in shape, while providing beautiful scenery all around.

South Boulder Creek Trail

A short half-hour drive from Denver, just southeast of Boulder, this trail is a lovely site to visit in a wheelchair.  The creek runs right next to the dirt path, and there are ample trees for shade and a break from the sun and the exertion of maneuvering your wheelchair if you are motoring it yourself.  Along the trail, you will enjoy, albeit it in the distance, nice views of the Flatirons and a broad sweep of the Front Range.

Bear Creek Lake Park

On the southwest side of Lakewood is Bear Creek Lake Park, located at 15600 W. Morrison Road.  This is a pretty large lake, with a goodly amount of wheelchair access.  Lots of wildlife to see there, both in the air and in the water.  Camping is available, and within a short drive from metro Denver, this is a close-by escape from the hustle and bustle of big city living.

Denver Zoo

A perennial favorite site in Denver, and 100% wheelchair accessible.  Nicely kept pavement and easy access from the parking lot, a trip to the zoo is always a nice adventure.  In addition to good exercise wheeling around our large zoo, a day there allows one to keep up on the doings of Lucien and Leopard, Charlie the Chimpanzee, Alex the Anteater and everyone’s favorite, Leo the Lion.  Just do not try to feed those fellas.  Those are, of course, names I have given some of the zoo’s occupants.  You are always welcome to give them names of people near and dear to you.

Rocky Mountain Arsenal Lake Mary Loop

The entire wildlife refuge is 15,000 acres.  There is a lot of paved or wood-covered pathway in and around the refuge center.  I suggest visiting their web site to get a full overview of wheelchair-accessible sites.  That said, the Lake Mary Loop is really neat.  It is a bit over a half-mile on a floating wooden boardwalk.  The boardwalk allows the user to wheel right over the lake itself.  That is about as close as one can get to a fish’s home without jumping in to say “Howdy.”  From I-70 exit at Quebec Street and go north. Travel approximately 2.8 miles to Prairie Parkway/64th Avenue. Turn right at Prairie Parkway and travel 0.6 miles to Gateway Road. Turn left at Gateway Road. Continue on Gateway Road until you pass through the Refuge entrance.

Castlewood Canyon State Park

Some years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting this state park with a classroom of special education middle school students, two of whom were wheelchair bound.  They absolutely loved the experience, as most of them had never spent time in the outdoors, away from a city.  It is a 45 minute drive south of Denver proper, and well worth the trip.  The canyon’s Nature Trail is completely paved, almost a mile and a quarter, and runs from one parking to lot to the other.  The trail allows everyone a very close-up experience to cast their gaze into and across the canyon.  Along the trail, you will enjoy a variety of trees, plants, flowers, chipmunks and other animals, and beautiful outdoor scenery galore.

Recognizing that it is challenging to be reliant on the use of a wheelchair for mobility, whether full-time or part-time, it is not necessary to give up visiting enjoyable sites just because walking is either not possible or extremely difficult.  While not fully confined to a wheelchair, some seniors I have known, or am currently acquainted with, have been pleased that they put aside their pride and allowed someone to wheel them around to and through various sites.  As I noted above, some students that I got to work with, who were wheelchair-bound, simply enjoyed being included in all sorts of outings.  From the zoo to the Botanic Gardens, a local park to the Castlewood Canyon State Park, we saw no reason to not include them in field trips.  In fact, such a thought never entered the minds of the faculty I worked with.  I hope that such a thought never enters your mind either, Dear Reader.  Get out and enjoy our lovely world, and if anyone gives you a hard time, just run over their toes!  Tell them I said to.  I’ll take the heat for you.

Aaron Ainbinder is the author of “Just Before the Stroke of Seven”.