Supporting Accessible Outdoor Recreation in Colorado

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) strives to offer recreational and sporting opportunities for children and adults of all ability levels.
Staunton State Park Track-Chair Program
Staunton State Park Track-Chair Program
125th Anniversary Logo

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) strives to offer recreational and sporting opportunities for children and adults of all ability levels. Take some time to explore the various programs Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers to ensure that every person in Colorado has access to the great outdoors.  

Accessibility in State Parks

While all state parks can offer reasonable accommodations and most have accessible programs and facilities that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a few parks have unique opportunities that are worth noting. For example:

  • Staunton State Park’s Track-Chair Program enables visitors without full mobility to enjoy the park through the use of trail systems. Track-chair use is free with entrance to the park, and reservations can be made through the website.
  • Barr Lake State Park has also recently added two track-chairs, which can be reserved by emailing barrlake.withoutbarriers@state.co.us.
  • Staunton State Park hosted an Adaptive Recreation Weekend in June of 2021 to bring awareness to adaptive recreation opportunities in Colorado. Multiple organizations including The Lockwood Foundation, Wilderness on Wheels, Exploryst, and The National Sports Center for The Disabled joined in the event. The USA Archery Paralympic team participated as special guests, including Kevin Mather, 2020 gold medalist. This year’s event is planned for June 11th-12th.

For a full list of accessible recreation opportunities available at each state park, please check out the Colorado State Parks brochure.

Barr Lake features an ADA-accessible fishing pier, which gives people of all abilities the chance to catch that BIG fish. Thank you to our sponsors for making this project happen- Adams County Open Space, Cabelas, Colorado State Foundation, and Friends of Barr Lake.

Wheelchair Accessible Trails in Colorado

Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) is a free app that maps all trails in CO. While COTREX is still expanding ADA features, it does offer a “Wheelchair Friendly” filter setting, which filters by trail width, grade, obstacles, and surface firmness and type. 

Passes and Licenses

Colorado residents with disabilities may choose from a number of state park passes, fishing, and hunting licenses which help provide an equitable recreation experience. 

  • The Columbine Parks Pass (annual state park pass) is offered for $14 to those on a fixed/limited income due to total and/or permanent disability.
  • Lifetime fishing licenses are available for free to those who are totally and permanently disabled. Colorado Parks and Wildlife maintains a list of accessible fishing locations. Select the region below to find accessible fishing access near you:
  • The Independence Parks Pass (annual state park pass) is free for veterans who have a service-connected disability. Independence Pass holders over age 64 qualify for discounted camping in state parks Sunday through Thursday, excluding holidays.
  • Resident veterans may also apply for a veteran lifetime fishing license, or a fishing and small game combo license.
  • Colorado residents with current Colorado Disabled Veterans or Purple Heart license plates may access Colorado State Parks free without a pass on the windshield. 
  • First Responders who have a permanent occupational disability or disease as a result of their official duties are also eligible for a lifetime fishing or small combo license, and a parks pass. Peace officers and firefighters who are not members of FPPA are eligible to apply for this First Responder Lifetime Program as well. 

ADA Options for Sportspersons 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers accommodation permits for sportspersons with disabilities. These accommodations are granted to individuals who have significant impairments to their daily major life functions. Mobility-impaired hunters who require the assistance of an attendant to hunt may also apply for a lifetime qualification that will assist in acquiring a hunting license for select big game and/or spring turkey. 

Accommodations for Hunter Education

Those new to hunting are required to take a hunter education course through the Hunter Education Program. The program welcomes advance special accommodation requests for testing needs (assistance with written materials, sign language interpretation, etc.). It also can provide access to adaptive equipment for the live fire portion of the exam, such as bite triggers for those who have trouble with a traditional trigger pull, adaptive scopes for vision impairments, lead sleds and even a high quad mount to help individuals who use a wheelchair handle the rifle easier. Local partnership agencies are able to loan other specialized equipment should the accommodation be needed. 

Hunting Outreach Partnerships

Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Hunter Outreach Program regularly supports sponsoring agencies that are trained and equipped to work with hunters who have disabilities. One of these groups, which Colorado Parks and Wildlife supports with license vouchers, is Outdoor Buddies, a volunteer non-profit organization that provides opportunities such as hunting, fishing, and camping for persons with disabilities and at-risk youth. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife also supports SYC Colorado, Special Youth Challenge Ministries Inc. This organization provides training and outdoor experiences for youth with special challenges. In preparation for partnered turkey and elk hunts, volunteers teach youth about hunting and its contribution to natural resource management, as well as how to use firearms correctly.  

The Hunter Outreach Program also provides Dream Hunt licenses, which go to sponsoring agencies who provide hunting opportunities for youth with life-threatening illnesses or conditions. Among the participating agencies are Outfitters4HopeColorado Dream Hunts and Hunt of a Lifetime.

Where to Go for Assistance

Colorado Parks and Wildlife endeavors to meet the varied recreation needs of the Colorado community with the goal of providing every person equitable access to the outdoors. All passes and licenses are available online, or at any state park or wildlife customer service office. If you have questions regarding passes and licenses you can contact disability.apps@state.co.us or call 303-291-7235. Sign Language Interpretation, Assistive Listening Equipment, and other ADA accommodation services are offered for events via a request form. For more information, or with questions about accessibility, please contact Shalana Gray, Workforce Development and ADA Accessibility Coordinator, at shalana.gray@state.co.us.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is celebrating its 125th Anniversary throughout 2022 to honor the legacy of our agency and the talented staff who make fulfilling CPW’s important mission possible. For more stories like this, please visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s 125th Anniversary web page!


Written by Lauren Wallace. Lauren is an administrative assistant for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s southwest region.

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