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  • Writer's pictureKyrby Brown

Churchill Fellowship Day Eighteen: Lost in The Woods (with Dinosaurs!)

Yesterday I fulfilled a lifelong dream of seeing real dinosaur fossils and tracks outside of a museum environment. Those of you reading who know me know how much of a big deal this is!

It wasn’t on the original itinerary, but when I heard about Dino Ridge I couldn’t resist checking it out. The accessibility info on the website wasn’t very comprehensive but it said the trail was asphalt so I hoped it would be ok. The centre runs guided bus tours and we were delighted to find out that bus had a lift! How cool is that! This access meant I could live out my paleontological dreams in the foothills of the Rockies - 10 year old me would be so proud!

Image description: The number one dinosaur track site in the world (according to palaeontologists). A sheer sandstone rock face with 250 dinosaur footprints embedded into the rock.

After this incredible find we headed to Staunton State Park. This is one of the newer state parks and had a wonderful 2.6 mile ADA compliant trail running down and around Davis Ponds. The landscape was breathtaking with snow capped mountains surrounding a line forest, the number of stunning viewpoints was countless and the trail was indeed fully accessible. There’s no complex engineering or ugly paving cutting through the landscape. Instead the stone dust path meanders softly through the woods, following the landscape. The key thing is that it’s well-maintained and kept free of barriers. Anyone using the path would feel like they were on an adventure and that they are truly part of the landscape. The adventure element is what I love and will continue to draw humans to the woods for years to come, this is what we need to make accessible, this feeling.

Image Description (x2): Me in my powerchair on the ADA compliant fishing pier overlooking Davis Ponds and me with my chair balanced on a rock overlooking a scenic view of the woods.

After this we tried to access Wilderness on Wheels but upon arrival we could see that they were not open (at this altitude there was still some snow on the ground). So instead we decided to head to Pine Valley Ranch Trail after it being recommended by our server at a nearby restaurant. We were not disappointed. This trail was under a mile long and took us around a fishing lake from which the views were, once again, truly awesome. On both of these trails there were hardly any other humans around which made for a very peaceful affair. Additionally the trails all have accessible restrooms at the trailhead which made our experience so much more pleasant and comfortable. All in all this was a great way to end a day of exploration, we have more of this to come as we head South to Colorado Springs on Friday.

Image Description: Me on another fishing pier with beautiful blue sky and an open view through the valley behind.

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