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Adventures Review

Handicap Accessible Haunted Walking Tour

The crisp, cool breeze that scatters leaves across the street. A harvest moon hanging low in the sky. Yes folks, fall is in the air! And what would fall be without a few, good old fashioned haunted house tales to spook the spirit? Exactly! So we decided to take Dre’s scooter out for a spin and check out the handicap accessible Discover Denver’s Walking Ghost Tour, and oh what a ghoulishly good time we had.

First things first; a handicap accessible walking tour through a major city is not for the faint at heart, and not just because of ghosts and goblins haunting the route. For as long as it’s taken Denver to become haunted, trees have been growing roots under city sidewalks and curbs have been evolving to meet ADA standards. This can be tricky and requires close navigation of certain spots in a wheelchair or scooter, but it can definitely be done.

Link to Discover Denver Walking Tours

Let’s go find some Ghosts!

Using the scooter to check out the haunts in Cheesman Park
Using the scooter to check out the haunts in Cheesman Park

Signing up for the Cheesman Park, Capitol Hill ghost tour, our adventure started at the corner of Gilpin and 13th, just north of Cheesman Park. With an eight o’clock start we were lucky to score some of that fabulous Colorado fall weather and set off in the blanket of darkness. It was clear from the get go that our guide loved ghosts, history, and Denver, so we were in good hands.

The key question she asked the tour guests at the beginning gives you a pretty good idea of why you’d want to take this tour; are you interested in history, architecture, ghosts, or entertainment? The tour covers all, but our group wanted to hear about ghosts.

After a brief stop at a vacant lot that once held the house that inspired the 1980 horror movie “The Changling,” we headed through Cheesman park. Cheesman is a beautiful park with wide, smooth sidewalks, which were very accessible. Dim lighting leads the way, which set a great ghost hunting tone for the night. Apparently, while Cheesman has become a gorgeous park over the years it was once strewn with body parts from a mortician gone awry. While we didn’t see any ghosts there, the story was gory and a raccoon traveled down a tree to say hello, which added some scare since no one was expecting him.

The Handicap Accessible Streets in Cheesman

The tour continued on through the Cheesman neighborhood. Denver has done a nice job of keeping their sidewalks and streets in tact, so the journey through this section was pretty smooth for Dre. We stopped at the first haunted mansion, which has since become an event center. This was where our guide made the first accommodation for handicap accessibility. While the tour was able to go up the stairs and walk around the house, she gave her speech from the staircase. This was close enough for Dre and I to be able to hear the history of the haunts and then the tour group headed up the stairs to take some pics and see if we could find any ghosts.

This was the first of three houses that had stairs the group could head up. The guide did a good job at each of these houses of staying close enough to the sidewalk for us to hear but being close enough to the house to point out the various scary pieces to the tour group. These particular houses weren’t fully handicap accessible to get up close and personal in a chair, but we could get close enough to hear the stories and take some pictures.

Navigating Denver’s Handicap Accessible Sidewalks

Once we’d determined there were no ghosts coming out to haunt in the Cheesman neighborhood that night, we headed the ten blocks to Capitol Hill. This was where we’d really test the handicap accessibility of the city. Kudos to Denver for doing a nice job of keeping their streets and sidewalks in nice condition. While there were stretches of sidewalk that have been altered by root and weather damage, it was clear that maintenance has been kept up. Dre was able to navigate all of the sidewalks for the ten blocks. Some of the bigger obstacles were in the curbs. While modified to be handicap accessible, there were some big bumps to manage.

Our tour group was quick to figure out that Dre needed the clearest possible line (think four wheeling if you’ve been) to get over the curbs and began to help navigating these as we moved along the street.

Is that a ghost in the Patterson Inn Window?
Is that a ghost in the Patterson Inn Window?

This was a long walk and I was glad I had followed the advice of comfortable walking shoes. The tour part picked back up again when we reached the Patterson Inn. Clouds floating over the towering spires made this place fit the classic haunted house image to a tee. Best part is, if you’re really up for the

haunted experience, you can stay in the bed and breakfast. Personally, I’ll stick to the outside. While we again didn’t see any ghosts, there was a guy in the top floor who was having fun sticking his face against the window at our tour group on the street below.

Searching for Ghosts on Capitol Hill

We continued our way through Capitol Hill, with a number of stops and a couple of additional bed and breakfasts in which you can really enjoy some ghosts on a more personal level. My vote for the creepiest house of the night was the Peabody Whitehead mansion. The history of the place fits just about every haunted house horror movie ever made and it’s currently under renovation (I’m guessing because they can’t get anybody to stay there). It’s so creepy ghost hunters paid it a visit in 2012 and apparently their meters were going nuts. I was more than happy to stay on the sidewalk with Dre while the tour group ventured to the porch on this one.

The legendary Molly Brown house was next, which was a fun bit of history to see and seems to have nicer ghosts. The tour wrapped up with the history of an Episcopalian Cathedral and Morey Middle School.

Yes, getting back to our car meant covering the ground back to Cheesman Park. The guide took us back up 13th street. Not a residential neighborhood, 13th was not as scooter friendly as other sections of the tour had been. At one point Dre decided to get off the sidewalk and head the wrong way on the one way street as it was smoother than the sidewalk.

Peabody-Whitehead Mansion
Peabody-Whitehead Mansion

A Spooky Cruise Back on the Scooter

This is where I decided we needed to leave the group and cut back over to the much more accessible 12th street. As he pointed out, it’s always the people who stray from the group who get the axe in horror movies. My argument was I’d much rather take my chances with Michael Myers than on a dark street on his scooter going the wrong way against traffic. We’re here to tell the story, so apparently I was correct.

The evening was a lot of fun and worth the two hours and eighteen bucks we spent. If you’re truly a ghost enthusiast, you might want to ask about their private tours, as my guess is you’d have more access to ask the guide specific questions. We stayed towards the back of the group and didn’t get to hear some of the history and side stories she told during the walks between different stops.

Video of Haunted Handicap Accessible Walking Tour

Bringing a flashlight to illuminate some of the darker stretches is not a bad idea. This would be particularly helpful on some of the more rutted stretches of side walk. You might also want to contact the company prior to your trip and let them know you are looking for the handicap accessible tour. We did not do this and still ended up with a great tour, but the guide did seem to make some on the spot adjustments which she may have been able to pre-plan had she known we were attending. While there is not a place to indicate you are needing handicap accessibility when you reserve your spot, they do send you a confirmation e-mail and contact information prior to the tour.

The tour is a fun experience for with able and disabled ghost enthusiasts, history buffs, architecture lovers, or someone looking for a different sort of night on the town!

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