Robbie’s List: A guide to accessible outdoor recreation in Colorado

Kit Geary
Summit Daily
Kristy and Robbie Cook venture out on Sawmill Reservoir in Breckenridge.
Courtesy photo.

Eight-year-old Robbie Cook and his family have emerged as some of the most popular accessible recreation influencers not just in Colorado, but the whole country. 

Nearly 50,000 people on Instagram follow along as Robbie proves to the world that being in a wheelchair does not stop him from getting outdoors and recreating.

A Florida native, Robbie moved to Colorado Springs with his family in search of better medical care. Robbie was born with epilepsy, a disorder of the brain characterized by repeated seizures. Due to his epilepsy, he lives with developmental and physical disabilities.

During Robbie’s first appointment with his new neurologist in Colorado, Make-A-Wish came up. Due to Robbie’s uncontrolled seizures, he’s at a higher risk for what’s called SUDEP, or sudden unexpected death in epilepsy. This constant risk qualified him to become a Make-A-Wish recipient. 

Robbie and his family already knew what they wanted from Make-A-Wish before they were even asked. He wanted a camper. Three months later Robbie had his camper. 

The Cook family poses before getting out on the water in Colorado.
Courtesy photo

Ever since, he and his family have been on a rampage traveling across the West and recreating in places his family thought he never could in a wheelchair. 

If you are someone looking for accessible recreation in Colorado, you’ve come to the right spot. Here’s a rundown of some of Robbie’s favorite spots.

Accesible Destinations

Fountain Creek Regional Park, Colorado Springs

Robbie’s mother Kristy was thrilled to learn that there were accessible recreation opportunities in their own backyard. 

This gem can be found along Fountain Creek between Colorado Springs and Fountain. The location has a terrain hopper, a device that resembles a four-wheeler meant to transport people with mobility issues. With the terrain hopper, guests are able to explore four of what Kristy describes as “little ecosystems.” His mom noted the experience was free and a volunteer came with them to help operate Robbie’s terrain hopper.

She described this two-hour experience as one of their best, if not the best, trips yet.

“We could not get over how much wildlife you could see between the prairies and wetlands,” Kristy Cook said. “My husband said it was his new favorite park, and apparently it was in our backyard the whole time.”

Fish Creek Falls, Steamboat Springs 

Kristy noted that it is rare to find accessible waterfalls. Which is why the family was so excited to be able to experience Fish Creek Falls in Steamboat Springs. She said people can roll right up to the waterfall with ease. 

Sawmill Reservoir, Breckenridge 

Located near the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center Wilderness Campus adjacent to the Sawmill Reservoir, this area has a small public parking lot outside with access to the trail that goes around the reservoir.  Here Robbie was able to enjoy the reservoir with adaptive kayaking and paddleboarding. 

If assistance is needed getting closer to the reservoir and accessible trail, BOEC will provide drop off access. Visitor are encouraged to call the number posted on the gate at the entrance to the BOEC facility for assistance.

“We had been to Breckenridge before but didn’t realize that this was somewhere that we could hike that was accessible and had these great views,” Cook said.

She said a family favorite was a hike around the reservoir. 

Iron Mountain Hot Springs, Glenwood Springs

This hot spring has a water wheelchair and ramp. “It’s great, you can transfer to the water wheelchair or you can roll right and either stay in or float around in the family pool,” Cook said. “Robbie was in Heaven.” 

Robbie and his family stayed out in the hot springs near the 90-degree pool for hours, enjoying drinks and dinner. 

Additionally this area has a wheelchair-friendly gondola that goes up the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. Cook said the family had a blast having lunch at the top as they got to enjoy a killer view of Glenwood Springs. 

Wilderness on Wheels, Grant

Wilderness on Wheel is an organization that operates at this location in Grant in Park County. Here you can find over a mile of accessible trails and a boardwalk that goes up the mountain. The boardwalk rises to 9,000 feet in elevation and Kristy said it was easy to roll Robbie on. The location has hiking, fishing and camping. 

Royal Gorge Railroad, Canon City

A lift at this location provides easy access on and off the train. Kristy said the park and bridge at the location is also largely accessible in addition to an access gondola on site. 

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Adventures Out West operates accessible Jeep tours at this location. Cook said it is easy to roll right into and a cost effective activity for families. 

Steamboat Ski Resort, Steamboat Springs

“The gondola in Steamboat is not only accessible, it’s huge,” Cook said. She noted that she was not only able to fit Robbie’s wheelchair in the gondola, but her infant’s stroller as well. She raved over the ADA parking pass that Steamboat Resort offers that includes free parking. Cook said the family was able to scan a barcode to register and parked in the garage right at the base of the resort. 

Places Robbie is excited to try

Kristy Cook is always researching the next fun family adventures. She said some accessible spots the family looks to hit include Durango Hot Springs in Durango and Pikes Peak in Colorado Springs. 

Robbie Cook gets help to visit Isak Heartstone in Breckenridge.
Courtesy photo

Tips to know before you go

Kristy recommends doing research ahead of traveling. She found the best place to go is local tourism boards. 

“I will reach out either through email or through their social media to the tourism board and be like ‘hey, my family’s looking to visit and I was wondering if you know of any activities, here are my son’s needs,” Cook said.

She mentioned she has consistently received great help from tourism boards and they are really easy to work with.

Robbie Cook takes on a Colorado mountain ropes course with the help of his family.
Courtesy photo

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.