When you think about mountain towns and outdoor recreation, accessibility isn’t likely at the forefront of your mind. A roll in hot spring, accessible waterfall and private jeep tour might just change your mind about visiting Ouray with a wheelchair.
Ouray Hot Springs
Ouray Hot Springs offered free use of 2 water wheelchairs and has ramps into the Shallow Pool 82° – 92°, the Hot Pool 92° – 100° and the Activity Pool 78° – 82°. There is also a lift into the Lap Pool 78° – 82°. Another great feature was the depth of water. The water wheelchair rolled right into the pool. You could then either transfer out like Robbie or continue to wheel across the whole pool staying in the chair! When we arrived, I was pleased to find a large wheelchair friendly changing space. We used a bench in that area to change Robbie. There was also a shower chair and accessible stall with detachable shower head. Don’t forget to pack towels (or rent them for $10), sunscreen, an adaptive life vest, and swim diapers if needed!
Million Dollar Highway
The best thing about scenic drives is they are accessible to everyone! The infamous Million Dollar Highway stretches 25-miles of highway from Ouray to Silverton. Drive US 550 heading north to experience this scenic and treacherous drive.
Bear Creek Falls is the only wheelchair accessible waterfall. Drive north from Ouray on highway 550 for this roadside attraction. The roll friendly viewing platform is located on the Million Dollar Highway!
While not accessible Box Canyon Falls is a 500 ft, mostly level, walk out and back. We find destinations like this are perfect for using Robbie’s Kinderpack! (15% off affiliate code- accessamb) We strapped both him and our baby into their carriers and went to explore. Right as you enter there are many wild birds and chipmunks. It’s a great place to sit and watch them up close in nature! The 500ft walk does take you down some steps (these can be avoided by turning right just past the visitor center). You go through the canyon on a metal grate hugging the canyon wall right up until you are almost underneath the 285-foot waterfall. It gets louder the closer you get to the falls. Prepare with noise cancelling headphones if loud noises are a trigger for anyone in your group.
Private Jeep Tour
Our family did a private guided 4x4 tour with Alpine Scenic Jeep Tours. We had never experienced this level of off roading. Robbie was able to use his special needs car seat in the jeep! Before deciding if this is right for you, make sure you are comfortable with bouncing around while your jeep climbs over rocks, drives through creeks and close to the cliffs edge. We talked to our guide about our comfort level and desired views. He came up with our plan for the day and we were off! We experienced every season of weather in our 4 hours, and I say this to make sure you are prepared. Pack extra layers of clothes, gloves, hats etc. We drove up Immogene Pass and not 5 minutes after parking we saw the snow start moving in. That’s right, it snowed in summer! Our driver gave us blankets for our legs that were water resistant and put the clear cover top over the back seats. We drove back down and by the time we reached the bottom the snow had turned to rain. The weather passed in less than 10 minutes, and we decided to try out Yankee Boy Basin. Both drives were stunning and very different! Imogene Pass we were driving the cliffs edge and Yankee Boy we were climbing over rocks. This was one of the best adventures our family has been on yet. We felt safe having a driver that had the level of experience ours did. For that reason, I highly recommend Alpine Scenic Jeep Tours!
Where to eat
The Gold Belt Bar and Grill has great outdoor seating and heaters if it’s chilly. You can find parking at an accessible spot in front of the entrance. You do have to wheel over a small bump up to get onto the patio. They have pizza, sandwiches, and wings making this a great option for everyone. Our daughter loved it so much we got her a burger to go on day 2 while we tried the Thai Chili Restaurant next-door. They have a truly roll friendly entrance and serve boba tea! We ordered drunken noodles and shrimp tempura. It was delicious!
Day trip for adative sports
Ridgway State park– (20 min away)
If you are a disabled Colorado resident, you may qualify for Columbine Lifetime Fishing license and the Columbine Parks Pass which costs only $14 per year for access to all state parks.
We were blown away by not only the inclusive activities we found in Ouray but the people. We had strangers offer to jump in and help us if our hands looked full. Locals took time out of their day to circle and cross things off a town map. Because of them we knew accessible options for lunch. It isn’t often you travel somewhere new, and the locals make it feel like home!
Kristy Cook- Accessible Adventures
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