To many people, myself included, the Mountains are God’s country. The magnificence of the rock formations, high altitudes, timberline, purple lupine wildflowers and wildlife are my little piece of heaven. Pictures cannot capture the vastness and the spectacular views one sees when visiting the Rocky Mountains or other high mountainous areas. Seeing mountains in person is the only way to appreciate their beauty.
Ever since I was a little girl, the mountains have been my favorite destination. After I became wheelchair-bound, I was disappointed on my first visit back to the mountains because not much was accessible in the Snowy Mountains and Rocky Mountain National Park.
To my surprise this last visit, the improvements that had been made allowed me to truly enjoy the outdoors. A person with a disability can obtain A Golden Pass through the DNR, which gives them free access to any national park.
Our trip was also more pleasant because the four of us traveled in an accessible minivan with an electric ramp. The ramp is hydraulic and runs off a remote. An Easy Lock system on the floor allows me to drive into the passenger side of the minivan and lock down without the use of tie downs. It is similar to a ball and socket as there is a bolt attached to the bottom of my wheelchair. The Easy Lock catches the bolt securely. Studies show the wheelchair will stay locked even in a rollover. Considering the amount of times we were in and out of the minivan, the locked down saved a lot of time getting in and out.
The first stop was Custer State Park. The Wildlife Loop drive brings the visitor up close to buffaloes, burros, prairie dogs, and antelope. A buffalo herd walked across the road as we were driving along. Because it was so early in the tourist season, there were many calves alongside their mothers.
One fun activity at the park is feeding the begging burros. They will eat anything and one does not even need to get out to their vehicle as the burros come right up to your window. And there are several well-packed paths in the park that are great for a short walk—these can be found around the lake or near the visitor center.
Our next destination was Laramie, Wyoming. We stayed in a Days Inn. The Days Inn caters to the needs of a person with a disability. Their bathrooms are large with rails and they have raised toilet seats. And, they even provided a commode if requested. Breakfast was available in a dining area with ample room to easily maneuver around. Additionally, the inn accommodated our request for adjoining rooms.
We stopped in Laramie specifically to visit the Snowy Mountains. The day before we arrived, Laramie had been pounded with 8.5 inches of snow. The city cleared up the streets and sidewalks quite nicely which made most of the stores and restaurants easily accessible.
We drove up into the Medicine Bow Mountains. The day started out with a beautiful blue sky and a temperature of 75°. As we climbed upwards to the top, where the snow was higher than my van, and the temperature dropped to 47°. Of the two visitor centers in the mountains, one of them was accessible with the ramp while the second was not. The nice thing about this byway is the choice you have to just drive through it or to wander down the black top trails around Lake Marie. Our problem, of course, was the snow had covered everything up. It still was worth our time and effort.
The next place we rested our heads was close to Boulder, Colorado. It is worth the drive upwards if you are not afraid of heights. There are several pullovers with accessible walking areas. Upon venturing into Estes Park, we could access the visitor center outside of the park. It is extremely accessible with a black top trail around it, plus elevators and ramps. In addition, Estes Park has three accessible trails—Bear Lake, Sprague Lake and Lily Lake. Each trail has spectacular views of the mountains in the park. The Alpine Visitor Center is at an elevation over 11,000 ft. and the view is great!
We have many fond memories of the time we spent in the mountains and the learning experience we had. It is impossible to describe the feelings you experience in the mountains and it is beyond what any words adequately can portray.
It is God’s Country!