banner

The New Stuff

wow-2
3164 Views

Accessible Hiking, Camping and Fishing? WOW!  


Editor’s Note: Wilderness on Wheels (WOW) is a foundation and a 501(c)(3) non-profit offering accessible hiking, camping and fishing near Grant, Colorado. Wheel:Life writer, Betsy Bailey, chatted with the managing director, Barbara Cramer, to get their full story.

Roger West and the Beginnings of WOW

wow-1

Many years ago, a gentleman named Roger West bought the property. Over a 15-year period, he gathered volunteers, money, and material donations and turned the land into an accessible camping experience. After the initial construction, they went to work on their main goal- building an accessible hiking trail all the way up the mountain to 9,200 feet (WOW itself is already at 9,000 feet). They cut through forest and rock to build the boardwalk. Part of it is on level ground and part of it is elevated as high as 12 feet. It’s all built into cement and reinforced with crossbeams to be able to handle the weight of the snow in the winter. The boardwalk meanders through the wilderness, zigzagging up the mountain and around the river that runs through WOW’s property. They also dug a man-made pond for fishing. Our foundation bought the 20 acres they built on from Roger West about 18 years ago.

Wilderness on Wheels just celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2016!

Editor’s note: Roger West was inspired to create Wilderness on Wheels when he found out his father would have to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. West recently passed away after a long battle with cancer.

What We Offer

wow-4The pond is stocked three times a year so people with a disability can come up and fish and be almost guaranteed to catch something. Nothing is more exciting than seeing a little five-year-old boy in a wheelchair catch his first fish.

Hiking on the boardwalk is gorgeous. You see many different types of landscapes- mountain, evergreen, tons of bush, and wild flowers. It’s just a beautiful walk. The most impressive thing about it is that no one else in the whole United States has an accessible trail up a mountain like this.

When you get almost to the top of the mountain, we have a cabin that we rent out. It sleeps four and is completely modern with a fully accessible bathroom, kitchen, and everything else. You can also drive up to that cabin.

In the forest area, there’s a log cabin that sleeps four, has heat, a full kitchen, and an accessible outhouse. It’s really popular.

We have 12 campsites where you can set up a tent on the ground or on a platform.

We have tent platforms that are built level with our wheelchairs. We also have five huts that sleep three to eight (depending on the hut) and are also built level with our wheelchairs. You can just throw in your sleeping bag and crawl in. People will often use a hut and then set tents up around it for other family members.

wow-3

We have a charcoal cooker and a fire pit at each campsite so that you can build fires when it’s allowed. We supply all the wood and you can also bring your own charcoal or your electric or gas stoves. Throughout that area, we have three huge gazebos. They are used as picnic areas and they’re all level or ramped. There are picnic tables and benches, and they’re all covered.

We ask people to bring their own food and take out their trash, since we don’t have trash service up there. We also ask people to bring their own bedding, so we don’t have to do so much laundry; we’re on a well up there.

boardwalk-wow

At the top of the mountain, we have a big area where you can look out onto the entire valley. It’s not unusual to see deer, moose, elk, or the occasional bear or bobcat. We have hundreds of hummingbirds. In the fall, it’s one of the most gorgeous places you’ve ever seen. It’s typical Colorado, except we offer accessibility.

The site is open 24/7. We’re a gated camping experience. We try to keep our people safe. Someone is always there.

Getting the Word Out

In the last few years, since we’ve gone on social media and are doing a lot more PR and advertising, our numbers are increasing. People look for accessible fun online. We get visitors from all over the world, because we’re on a direct path to a lot of other tourist attractions in Colorado, several of which are also somewhat accessible. This past summer, we had over 16,000 visitors.

How We Get Stuff Done

wow-6

My husband and I manage WOW and live onsite. I’m in a wheelchair and Bill, my husband, has a partial disability. I do PR, reservations, and answer phones. We also have several board members, including a CEO, secretary, treasurer and some others who handle our website and social media. We have an onsite volunteer who stays up on the mountain three weeks out of every month in case there are things that Bill and I can’t do.

One of the downfalls of having a boardwalk is that we have to make sure it’s all maintained properly.

We have volunteers that come up several times during the summer months to make sure the nails are all pounded in, the boards are in good shape, etc. They also mow, trim bushes and chop wood. We get a lot of large groups coming from organizations and corporations that give their employees a day off for charity work. It’s a great way for us to get everything done. We really count on our volunteers to do the heavy work. It’s amazing how much there is to do on 20 acres!

We have volunteers that come up several times during the summer months to make sure the nails are all pounded in, the boards are in good shape, etc. They also mow, trim bushes and chop wood. We get a lot of large groups coming from organizations and corporations that give their employees a day off for charity work. It’s a great way for us to get everything done. We really count on our volunteers to do the heavy work. It’s amazing how much there is to do on 20 acres!

wow-7

Pricing and Reservations

Everything we offer is donation only, except for the two cabins, which we rent for $65/night. For everything else, we suggest a donation similar to what you would pay at a state park ($10-15 per night for a campsite), and that’s what most people donate. Some people may not have much money. If they can’t pay, we still allow them to stay, because someone else will maybe give more to cover them.

We get a lot of day groups that come up from rehab or assisted living centers during the week, but the weekends are really busy for camping. We tell people to make their reservations early in the spring, because otherwise we may have to turn them away.

We rent facilities and campsites to people with a disability or the elderly first, but we don’t turn anybody away if they want to come and hike. Able-bodied people’s money is as good as the next guy’s! And of course, the more people that know about us, the better.

Opening Dates and Access

pond-wow

We open May 15, weather permitting, and we go through the end of October, weather permitting. It starts to get really cold up there in the middle of October, and we have to shut down the water.

We’re 65 miles southwest of Denver at the base of the Kenosha Pass, between Bailey and Fairplay. We’re pretty isolated – about 14 miles from the closest town – but since we’re just off of Highway 285, we’re very easy to get to.

Funding

It costs us about $50,000 a year to keep WOW open, which includes all of our utilities and maintenance. We do not have any paid employees; it’s strictly volunteer. We hold a couple of fundraisers every year. We also have some trusts that give us money. I’ve been writing grants to get funding for this coming year. We also sell t-shirts, sweatshirts and other items to make money. People are usually very generous.

Anybody that wants to donate $100 or more in someone’s honor or memory gets a plaque.

The plaques are displayed all the way up and down the boardwalk. It’s incredible to see who helped build WOW and who keeps it going. Some family members donate year after year for a loved one.

All Are Welcome

wow-8

We welcome anyone, and we especially love catering to families. There are so many places that a family cannot go if they have a disabled member. WOW gives them the opportunity to do family things together.

More Information

For more information or to make a reservation or donate, check out WOW’s website: http://www.wildernessonwheels.org/

You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

About the Authorbetsy-bailey-headshot

Betsy Bailey has a diverse background including experience in marketing research at American Express, business operations and client relations with 601am, travel and culinary writing with VegDining, and playing volleyball professionally overseas.

Betsy is excited to get back into writing, something she’s adored since childhood, and thoroughly enjoys the process of getting to know her interviewees. On top of her work with Wheel:Life, she also teaches students learning English as a second language, speaks French fluently, and travels any chance she gets!

 

 

Recently Published

spinal-cord-injury-720x400
»

Comfort Medical is Helping People to Achieve a Healthier and Happier Lifestyle

If you’re an avid Wheel:Life reader, you may remember that we ...

stephanie-woodward-9
»

Advocating for Disability Rights with Stephanie Woodward and CDR

Editor’s Note: During a summer internship at the Center for ...

handi-capable-fitness8
»

Building Strength and Confidence with Handi Capable Fitness

Editor’s Note: A botched hernia operation during infancy left James ...

adaptive-bike1
»

Comfort Medical Sponsors Freedom Concepts to Help You Win An Adaptive Bike

Have you always dreamt of gliding down the street with the wind in ...

abilities-expo-toronto-2
»

Experience It All At the Abilities Expo!

Days are becoming shorter, nights longer, and the holiday season is ...

me_northeast-passage
»

ParaSportsLive: Bringing Adaptive Sports Coverage to the World

Editor’s Note:  When wheelchair user Tony Jackson’s original ...

cure-medical-october
»

Introducing the New Cure Ultra Coude Intermittent Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra® Coude ...

each-by-name-1
»

Get Ready for Rolling With Me’s Each By Name Conference

Wheel:Life, Comfort Medical, and Rolling With Me is excited to ...

smooth-sailing-with-david-gaston9
»

Smooth Sailing with David Gaston

Editor’s Note:  A Texas coast native, David Gaston has been in and ...

Husband and handicapped wife taking stroll in park alley
»

Gain Traction This Fall with National Ramp

Summer is officially over and dreary winter weather is on its way. ...

wheelchair-dance-organization-21
»

Wheelchair Dancers Organization Says Everybody Can Dance!

When life-long dancer Beverly Weurding was diagnosed with limb-girdle ...

malaise-wheelchair-fitness4
»

Pursuing Health and Happiness with Malaise Wheelchair Fitness

Editor’s Note: Justin Malaise grew up in small-town Wisconsin as a ...

kim-brown-cover
»

Former Ms. Wheelchair Illinois Continues to be a Voice for the Community

Editor’s Note: Born with spina bifida, Kim Brown has been a ...

img_00261
»

Dare to Discover the World of Accessible Travel With Handiscover

Editor’s Note: Sebastien Archambeaud has always loved traveling, so ...

pediatric-hydrophilic-cure-catheter1
»

Made for Kids! The Pediatric Hydrophilic Cure Catheter + Free Backpack Program

Parents only want what’s best for their children and keeping them ...

jhudson-featured
»

Wheeling, Driving, Bowling, Preaching, Parenting…Johnny Hudson Does It All Hands-free!

Editor’s Note: Johnny Hudson was born in 1977 with unforeseen ...

Pat Dougherty explains FreeWheel to a new fan at a recent Abilities Expo.
»

The Abilities Expo is Coming To Boston!

Boston awaits with open arms. This September 8–10, head over to the ...

margarita-7
»

Comfort Conversations: Change Starts with You – Becoming an Advocate

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

wheelchairtravel14
»

WheelchairTravel.org: Blazing the Trail Towards an Accessible World  

Editor’s Note: After sustaining severe burns during a car accident ...

ag-featured
»

The Artfully Gifted Foundation – Serving Entrepreneurs with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: The Artfully Gifted Foundation (a non-profit) was ...

jose-gonzalez-on-how-the-scrs-il-can-help-you-live-independently24
»

How the SCRS-IL Can Help You Live Independently

Editor’s Note: When triple degree holder Jose Gonzalez returned ...

peter-arballo-1
»

Peter Arballo Never Gave Up on Himself — Neither Should You

Editor’s Note: Peter Arballo was born in Southern California to ...

michael-johnson-racing-8
»

Full Speed Ahead with Endurance Racer Michael Johnson

Editor’s Note: Michael Johnson of Lansing, Michigan, started racing ...

monica-vickers9
»

The Extraordinary Life of Triple Amputee Monica Vickers

Editor’s Note: Monica Vickers was born in 1954 missing both legs ...

rick-hayden-rolls-on-capitol-hill-for-your-rights1
»

Rick Hayden Rolls on Capitol Hill for Your Rights

When Rick Hayden visited the US Capitol last week, he went with your ...

abilities-expo-chicago-2017
»

Gear Up for Abilities Expo Chicago

Calling all Midwesterners — Abilities Expo is coming to Chicago! As ...

angel-city-sports-12
»

Run, Jump, and Throw Stuff with Angel City Sports

Editor’s Note: Clayton Frech is the CEO and founder of Los ...

1coach-koz2
»

Sled Hockey with Coach Koz

Editor’s Note: Sled hockey (also known as sledge hockey) is almost ...

Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL
»

Summer Solutions with STYLEDWEL

Editor’s Note: Mary Marshall, founder of STYLEDWEL, created ...

kristina-rhoades11
»

Following Your Inner Guidance with Kristina Rhoades and How National Ramp is Helping Her Do It

Editor’s Note: Kristina Rhoades is a mom, wife, speaker, writer, ...

men who use wheelchairs
»

Comfort Conversations: Finding Encouragement Through Peer Support Groups

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

wheellife1
»

Allen Beauchamp on Life, Love and Hockey

My name is Allen Beauchamp, and I’m 43 years old. I live in a ...

altolife9
»

Yoocan Get Empowered!

Editor’s Note: Inspired by a family member with disabilities, Moshe ...

cure-medical-catheter
»

Introducing the Cure Ultra: Ready to Use Catheter for Men

Cure Medical has unveiled the new 16-inch Cure Ultra™ Intermittent ...

manual-wheelchair-skills-800
»

Refuel and Rejuvenate At Abilities Expo New York Metro

East coasters, or anyone within striking distance, gear up for ...

criptado7
»

Criptaedo: Breaking Boards and Barriers

Editor’s note: Paul Brailer, aka Criptaedo, was born with spina ...

stella5_small
»

Rolling Forward with Amputee Advocate Stella Sieber

I’m currently 63 years old and live in Durham, North Carolina. ...

mallory_black-and-white-quickie-photo-shoot_july-2016
»

Stroke by Stroke: Moving Forward with Mallory Weggemann

Editor’s Note: At 18 years old, Mallory Weggemann walked into the ...

Margarita Cover Photo
»

Comfort Conversations: Finding Your New Normal After a Spinal Cord injury

Join us every other month for Comfort Conversations, a discussion ...

wheelchair-daddy-1
»

Glenn Moscoso: Wheelchair Daddy

Editor’s note:  Glenn Moscoso is a husband and father living with ...

national-ramp-cover-photo
»

Avoiding Slippery Slopes with Garth Walker and National Ramp

Editor’s Note: After selling his prior business, Garth Walker went ...

national-sports-center-for-the-disabled4
»

The National Sports Center for the Disabled: Finding Self-Confidence through Personal Challenge

Editor’s Note: The National Sports Center for the Disabled, founded ...

susies-travels
»

Wheeling around the World with Susie Twydell

Editor’s Note: Based in England, Susie Twydell, an avid traveler ...

What rolls through your mind as you approach your own journey?
»

Amplitude Media Group: Closing the Information Gap

Wheel:Life is thrilled to announce their newest community partner, ...

wow-2
»

Accessible Hiking, Camping and Fishing? WOW!  

Editor’s Note: Wilderness on Wheels (WOW) is a foundation and a ...

the-woody-foundation-6
»

Comfort Conversations: Events, Free Packs, and More with James “Woody” Beckham

Editor’s Note: The Woody Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit ...

S
»

Jenn Sexton Shares Her Secret for Independence: An Extra Long Cure Catheter

Jenn Sexton was five weeks pregnant when she and her husband, Thomas, ...

img_2236glen-schlotterbeck
»

Glen Schlotterbeck: Reinvent Yourself!

Editors note: As a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Glen ...

The-Abilities-Expo-6
»

Educate, Energize, and Enlighten at Abilities Expo Los Angeles

The Abilities Expo is back in Los Angeles and gearing up to show you ...

14juan-sebastian
»

Juan Sebastian Betancourt: Changing the Way Businesses Serve People with Disabilities

Editor’s Note: Juan Betancourt is on a path to change the world for ...

yogya-borobudur_ai
»

AccessibleIndonesia: Making Travel Accessible in a Non-Accessible Country

Editor’s note: Kerstin Beise, a German physiotherapist, who also ...

hydred-cover
»

A Lesson on Living Life to the Fullest with Hydred Makabali

Editor’s note: Hydred Makabali, born and raised in England and now ...

Up/Down Team Champions (Top L to R) Shane Hayden, Harold Collins (Seated L to R) Gary Bowling, Kenneth Hill, and Don Law
»

Knocking Down The Pins of Life with Wheelchair Bowling Champion Kenneth Hill

Editor’s Note: Fifty-year-old Kenneth Hill from Plainfield, ...

10-2take-your-wings-and-fly-with-denise-horn
»

Take Your Wings and Fly with Denise Horn

Editor’s Note: Fifty-six-year-old Denise Horn of Janesville, ...

ashley-hudson
»

Ashley Hutson Wilson Beat a Small Chance of Survival to Live a Full Life

Editor’s Note: Thirty-one year old Ashley Hutson Wilson from Kyle, ...

wheely-guitars-mel-header
»

Jam with Mel Bergman: Creator of Wheely Guitars

Editor’s Note: Mel Bergman of Camarillo, California, is the ...

gary-boxing-friend
»

Gary “Tiger” Balletto: Champion Prize Fighter Who Rolls with the Punches

Editor’s Note: You can capture a ferocious wild tiger and put him ...

9 Robby Heisner
»

Meet Robby Heisner: Creative Entrepreneur on Wheels

Editor’s Note: Robby Heisner of Smyrna, Georgia ...

Joseph Logar1
»

The National Rifle Association’s Adaptive Shooting Program with Dr. Joseph Logar

Dr. Joseph Logar Editor’s Note: Dr. Joseph Logar has his doctorate ...

rollettes-2
»

The Rollettes Take On an E.P.I.C. Project to Empower Others

Editor’s Note: Chances are, you’ve seen these ladies ...

medicare-access-header
»

Speak Up Now to Save Your Wheelchair: Fight Medicare Cuts

Your window is narrowing to preserve access to mobility equipment – ...

engineered for adventure GRIT
»

Go Further Together with GRIT: Stories of Community Support

Our friends at GRIT, the makers of the revolutionary Freedom Chair, ...

military-gang
»

Paralyzed Veteran’s Mom Awarded Dream Trip by ElDorado Mobility

Editor’s Note: Serving our country as a military service member is ...

4Kenneth Perry
»

Wheelchair Karate: Attack the Attacker with Kenneth Perry

Editor’s Note: Kenneth Perry from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ...

5 Tom Cannalonga
»

Ditch Your Chair to Sit-Ski the Slopes with Tom Cannalonga 

Editor’s Note: Fifty-two-year-old Tom Cannalonga lives in Edison, ...

wlbannerFBfall
»

Welcome to Wheel:Life

We are so glad you’re here! Wheel:Life is a global initiative ...

%d bloggers like this: