When Juliet Dawkins would take her daughter, who is in a wheelchair and has medical and physical needs, to playgrounds throughout the metro area, she quickly learned many were not accessible to kids of all abilities. That meant her daughter would have to watch other kiddos play from the sidelines.

But when Dawkins discovered a park with a supportive swing that her daughter was able to use, she realized how simple it was to make a play area accessible to more children. “It was the best day of my daughter’s life—she loved it and was so happy,” Dawkins recalls. That inspired Dawkins to partner with Stanley Marketplace in Aurora to create a fully accessible adaptive playground, which opened in September 2021.

Since then, Dawkins has pushed for the installation of more adaptive swings in existing parks throughout Denver. “It’s turning into more of the norm, which is amazing, and we’re really just trying to advocate to more cities to improve their playgrounds,” Dawkins says now. “Hopefully it’ll be all of the playgrounds one day.” Here, we’ve rounded up nine of the best adaptive playgrounds and spaces in and around Denver.

LuBird’s Playground at Stanley Marketplace, Aurora

Photo courtesy of LuBird’s Light Foundation

After Aurora’s Stanley Marketplace donated 9,000 square feet of outdoor space for the purpose of building an adaptive playground, local nonprofit LuBird’s Light Foundation worked with architects, medical professionals, and parents of children with special needs to build a play place for all. “Some of the pieces were specifically selected for physical therapists to work with their clients,” says Dawkins, the executive director of LuBird’s Light Foundation and mother to Lucia, who has a rare genetic condition called Pallister-Killian syndrome.

Officially opened in September 2021, the playground features wheelchair-accessible spinners and swings, sensory play equipment, and ramps instead of ladders. LuBird’s Light Foundation has since donated supportive swings, which brace a child’s back and neck, to existing parks around the city, including Cheesman Park, Congress Park, and City Park. 2503 Dallas Street, Aurora

Possibilities Playground at Butterfield Crossing Park, Castle Rock

Photo courtesy of Town of Castle Rock

When officials from Castle Rock recognized a need to update the aging playground at Butterfield Crossing Park in the northwest corner of the city, local leadership seized the opportunity to create a completely new, accessible playground. The city, in partnership with the Castle Rock Parks and Trails Foundation, raised more than $1,000,000 through the Colorado Gives Foundation to open the playground last summer.

There, kids can explore a sensory wall with different textures, a 50-foot-long ZipKrooz (an accessible zip line), and adaptive swings and spinners. The Possibilities Playground at Butterfield Crossing Park is fully operational, but the city is still accepting donations for ongoing maintenance and improvements to the space. 3952 Butterfield Crossing Drive, Castle Rock

The Sensory Club, Englewood

Photo courtesy of the Sensory Club

This membership-based club offers a gym, multisensory environments, and activities for kids and adults of all abilities. In the gym, users can enjoy a therapeutic swing, rock-climbing wall, and ball pit. For those who benefit from controlled sensory environments, there’s a multisensory room with various light experiences sans overhead fluorescents, which can be too harsh and overstimulating. The room also features an acoustic chair where members can play music and feel the vibrations from the chair. The Sensory Club can also host birthday parties and events for larger groups.

“We have something for everyone, like a toddler space so they have a safe space to crawl,” says Christeen Leal, co-owner of the Colorado location. “But everything is adaptable and has high weight limits, so there really is something for everyone.” Memberships start at $49 a month, and day passes are also available starting at $20. 4301 S. Federal Blvd., Suite 102/103, Englewood

Sensory Playground at E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park, Northglenn

In 2019, the accessible playground at Northglenn’s E.B. Rains Jr. Memorial Park was in need of some upgrades. That led the city to apply for grants to spruce up the play space. In collaboration with Lafayette-based landscape architecture firm Design Concepts, the new sensory park features a Braille-learning station, an undulating, smooth walkway that’s fun for kids wearing roller skates or using wheelchairs, and even an area designed with older adults in mind (think: chess tables and supportive benches). 11701 Community Center Drive, Northglenn

Clement Park, Littleton

Photo courtesy of Foothills Parks and Recreation District

Littleton’s vast Clement Park, which features tennis courts, multiuse fields, horseshoe pits, and even an amphitheater, is also home to one of the area’s largest inclusive playgrounds. Along with some regular improvements to the existing park in 2019, the community raised more than $8 million (and accepted a $3 million contribution from Jefferson County Open Space) to make the playground accessible. The redesigned playground features supportive swings, sensory games, and wheelchair-accessible pathways and spinners. 7306 W. Bowles Ave., Littleton

Parallel Play, Aurora

Photo courtesy of Parallel Play

For children who seem to struggle on the playground or following directions, occupational therapists believe therapeutic or adaptive gymnastics can help. The therapists at Stanley Marketplace’s Parallel Play work to teach children self-regulation skills while strengthening their endurance in a sensory-friendly gym, whether parents have an official diagnosis for their child or not. For children who do have an official medical diagnosis, Parallel Play even offers therapy sessions that are usually covered by most insurance plans. 2501 Dallas St. Ste. 260, Aurora

Westminster Sensory Park, Westminster

Located just a few miles from Children’s Hospital Colorado’s North Campus, this Westminster playground has been popular since 1998, when the hospital approached the city with funds to create an accessible play area. After being awarded a grant to pay for the rest of the project, the city created a playground with supportive swings and an undulating walkway designed for wheelchairs. Steps and paths here are painted for those with visual impairments, and sand pits and brightly colored decorative fish add to the sensory experience. 7355 W. 103rd Ave., Westminster

Red-Tailed Hawk Park, Aurora

Completed in 2019, this inclusive playground was funded by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Rotary Club of Aurora, and Arapahoe County Open Space after an Aurora boy with special needs used his Make-A-Wish to wish for an inclusive local park. The wavy, undulating walkways let those in wheelchairs experience roller coaster-like thrills, while children who need back support can use the supportive zip lines to zoom across the play area. The park also features a swing reserved for children in wheelchairs and, during the summer, a flat splash pad convenient for those requiring mobility assistance. 23701 E. Hinsdale Way, Aurora

Carmody Park, Lakewood

Lakewood’s beloved Carmody Park saw structural improvements in 2017, and with them, the installation of inclusive playground equipment—making it the city’s first accessible play place. With a focus on music (kids can play with a tactile, organ-like instrument), the park features smooth ramps for wheelchair users and a sand pit (complete with fossils) for sensory stimulation. The park also has supportive swings and a swing designed for wheelchairs. Also nice: Rubber paving lines the grounds throughout the play space. 2200 S. Kipling St., Lakewood

More Adaptive Parks Set to Open Soon

Berthoud Adaptive Park Project, Berthoud

Photo courtesy of Berthoud Adaptive Park Project

Berthoud resident Lauren Bowling and local nonprofit Can’d Aid have raised funds to bring a completely inclusive playground to northern Colorado. With a groundbreaking planned for next month, the park is scheduled to open in spring 2025, complete with supportive swings with five-point harnesses—perfect for kiddos who need back support—and wheelchair-accessible swings, spinners, and sensory-friendly musical instruments.

The public can still donate to the project or participate in community build days throughout the summer. “This has been a true community effort,” Bowling says. “The community raised over $500,000 before the town pitched in, and that’s just through lemonade stands and basketball tournaments. It’s truly an incredible feat.” 40.30171, -105.06179, Berthoud

Prospect Park at Sterling Ranch, Douglas County

Before the opening of the accessible park at Sterling Ranch, an unincorporated community in Douglas County, residents have been forced to drive at least 30 minutes to get to the nearest adaptable play space. That’s why just this month, the community broke ground on Prospect Park, a $5 million project that will provide locals with an inclusive playground and park, featuring supportive play equipment. It’s set to open this fall, while a 7,000-square-foot pool is set to follow sometime in 2025. 39.48005, -105.06994, Douglas County

This is a living list. Did we miss your favorite adaptable playground? Let us know at digital@5280.com.

Barbara O'Neil
Barbara O'Neil
Barbara is one of 5280's assistant editors and writes stories for 5280 and 5280.com.