Introduction to Wheelchair Accessible Roswell
Do you believe in aliens? If so, the City of Roswell, New Mexico is the place for you. Home to the International UFO Museum and Research Center, the city became a popular tourist destination after a 1947 incident in which an alien spacecraft allegedly crashed about 75 miles from the city. Investigators believe that a weather balloon was the culprit, but I’ll offer no opinion here as to the veracity of those claims. Travel to Roswell, explore the museums and decide for yourself.
Roswell has a population of less than 50,000 people and as such the accessible infrastructure is limited. You won’t find wheelchair taxis (non-emergency medical transportation can be arranged), but I managed to have an enjoyable trip using only the city’s public transportation system. Roswell was a unique trip for me, as I’m typically a big city traveler. Using this guide to the wheelchair accessibility of Roswell, New Mexico, you too can enjoy a unique trip to a place that’s a bit off the beaten path.
Roswell’s top attractions can be explored in a couple of days and, if you’re bringing or renting a vehicle, you can knock it out in one. With a UFO Museum, planetarium and a zoo, you won’t have difficulty building an accessible travel itinerary in Roswell.
In addition to the information contained in this guide, the Roswell Visitor Center, located at 426 N. Main Street, is staffed daily with local experts who can make suggestions about things to see and places to eat. They were helpful to me in selecting some local restaurants to try — and the visitor center also has accessible bathrooms.
International UFO Museum and Research Center
Opened in 1991, the International UFO Museum and Research Center welcomes visitors who would like to learn more about the 1947 incident that put the city on the map. Exhibits recount the history of the alleged UFO crash, with news clippings and first-person audio recordings and interviews with the people who were there. Many of the visitors to this place believe that a bona fide UFO did crash, and they wonder where the extra terrestrial(s) are today.
The museum has a number of “aliens” on display — figures created for movies and television, and for show in the UFO Center. After your tour, you can stop in at the gift shop to purchase gifts and souvenirs from a large collection of alien-themed designs.
Admission to the UFO Museum is affordable — $5 for adults, $3 for seniors, military and first responders, and $2 for children ages 5-15. Kids 4 and under are admitted free. For more information, visit the UFO Museum website.
Roswell Museum (of Art & History)
The Roswell Museum, founded in 1935, is the region’s preeminent museum with a 50,000 square foot facility and 12 galleries dedicated to the exhibition of art and history. Its diverse exhibitions showcase Native American crafts and artwork, sculptures, photography, painting and historical artifacts. For those interested in the region’s connection to rocketry, one gallery is dedicated to that.
The museum is accessible, with ramps providing wheelchair access to each of the exhibition galleries. The cost of admission for non-residents is $10 for adults (16+); $7 for seniors (60+), active military, veterans and university students; and free for children 15 and younger. For more information or to plan your visit, see the Roswell Museum website.
Robert H. Goddard Planetarium
The Goddard Planetarium, co-located as part of the Roswell Museum, features a state-of-the-art domed planetarium theater, with the latest in digital projection and programming. Named for Robert H. Goddard, the American physicist who created the world’s first liquid-fueled rocket (which he successfully launched in 1926), the planetarium offers showings of a film and star show 5 days a week. The programs last 45 minutes in total.
There is space for wheelchair users throughout the planetarium’s domed theater, however those who are able may prefer to transfer into one of the theater’s angled seats which provide a better view of the dome. The planetarium is connected to the Roswell Museum, but an additional ticket is required to see the planetarium shows. The cost is $5 for non-resident adults (16+) and $3 for Roswell residents, children (ages 4-15), seniors (60+) and active military. Children 3 years of age and under are admitted free. For more information, visit the Goddard Planetarium website.
Spacewalk at the Roswell Space Center
Enter into an alien world. The Roswell Space Walk is an immersive art installation in downtown Roswell, which uses black light to transport visitors through time and space into an otherworldly environment, to outer space and beyond.
Children and adults alike find joy in the space walk, which is wheelchair accessible and leads people through an interesting glow-in-the-dark maze where various scenes, aliens and figures appear (without the scare factor of a haunted house).
The experience will take 20 minutes or less and costs just $5. It’s cheap fun that is unique to Roswell. For more information, visit the Roswell Spacewalk website.
Spring River Zoo
Roswell’s Spring River Zoo occupies 34 acres and features a variety of animals including bears, mountain lions, buffalo, coyotes, llamas, birds and more. Outdoor pathways throughout the zoo grounds are wheelchair accessible.
The following video, put together in advance of the city’s UFO Festival, provides some additional insight into the zoo, its animals, and future plans for development of the park.
On the day of my visit, it was extremely hot, and the bears and big cats were hiding in their enclosures. I recommend a morning visit to ensure you get to see the full range of animals. The zoo is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and tickets are available for $10 for non-resident adults (ages 16+), with discounts for students, seniors, active military, veterans and local residents. For more information, visit the Spring River Zoo website.
After my visit to the Spring River Zoo, I decided to roll back to downtown Roswell in my wheelchair, a distance of about 1.2 miles. I used the paved pathway through the adjacent Loveless Park, which is 8 acres in size and features a trail, gazebo, picnic tables and more.
It was a nice stroll through the park in the afternoon, and I enjoyed making my own way back to the city center as opposed to waiting for the city bus. While this isn’t a park you’ll likely want to visit for the sake of visiting, it’s great to use the accessible pathway on the way to downtown. You can learn a bit more about this public park on the City of Roswell website.
Roswell’s UFO McDonald’s
The McDonald’s restaurant in downtown Roswell has become an icon, with its spaceship design and the alien figures that greet diners inside. Although this McDonald’s is a break from the brand standard in style, the food tastes the same.
If you’re visiting Roswell, why not stop by the UFO McDonald’s — if for no other reason than to say you were there? Bonus, if you have children: the play place is a bit larger than you’d expect to find in a small-town fast food joint.
Roswell Welcome Sign
The City of Roswell has iconic welcome signs on the edges of town, but unfortunately they are not on the city’s public transit routes. If you’d like to visit these signs, you’ll need to utilize private transportation. Although I didn’t have access to my own car during my trip and couldn’t see the welcome signs, I share this stock photo with you, courtesy of the City of Roswell’s Twitter feed. If you’d like to find the signs, simply search “Roswell Welcome Sign” in Google Maps on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
The sidewalks of Roswell, New Mexico are largely accessible within the touristic areas of the city city center. Although some sidewalks are broken and cracked in areas, with the occasional pothole, I had little difficulty navigating the city in my power wheelchair.
The city’s crosswalks feature curb ramps, crossing signals and tactile surfaces for the blind. I cannot comment on the accessibility of sidewalks outside the city center, due to the fact that I stayed fairly close to Main Street. There were some areas of concern, but I managed to avoid obstacles and enjoyed rolling about the Roswell city center. The city is largely flat, however there were some curb ramps that were steep, posing potential challenges to manual wheelchair users.
Wheelchair accessible transportation in Roswell, New Mexico is limited, with a small city bus network, a Greyhound bus stop in the city center, and an airport served by only a single commercial airline.
City Bus Service by Pecos Trails Transit
Roswell’s primary mode of public transportation is a limited city bus service operated by Peco Trails Transit. The mini buses used on the routes are wheelchair accessible via a ramp or lift.
The city bus operates on a single route, the “Main Street Route,” which has 85 stops and runs between the Roswell Airport and the Roswell Mall, with an intermediate stop at the city’s central bus terminal. The central bus terminal, located at 515 North Main Street, is the place where fare tokens are sold. The cash price of a single ride is $0.75 for adults, however a pack of 10 ride tokens can be purchased for a discounted rate of $6.75.
In addition to the Main Street Route, Peco Trails Transit also operates a Dial-A-Ride service Monday through Friday to and from an additional 137 stops that are not covered by the main bus route. Riders requesting a pick-up from any of these stops should call +1 (575) 624-6766.
Bus operating hours are Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., on Saturdays from 7:10 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and on Sundays from 10:28 a.m. to 7:02 p.m. For more information on the local bus service, visit the Roswell Transit website.
Wheelchair Accessibility at Roswell Airport
The Roswell Air Center (ROW) is an airport located 5 miles south of the City of Roswell, New Mexico. It is a small facility, served only by American Airlines with non-stop service to the Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) and Phoenix (PHX) airports.
The small terminal has no jet bridges, but access to the aircraft is provided by a ramp. Although there are limited flight departures and the airport is never “busy,” there is only a single TSA security lane, so wheelchair users are advised to arrive to the airport 90 minutes prior to departure.
The Roswell City Bus stops outside of the terminal building and provides wheelchair accessible transportation to downtown Roswell.
For more information about the airport, visit the Roswell Air Center website.
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I only spent two nights in Roswell and thus only stayed in a single budget hotel — the Motel 6, which I have detailed below. Note that there are other hotels in the city that offer wheelchair accessible accommodation, and I have provided links to those below.
Motel 6 Roswell
The Motel 6 Roswell is an affordable wheelchair accessible hotel, offering ADA accessible guest rooms with a roll-in shower or bathtub. During my stay, the room with a roll-in shower was occupied, so I booked the accessible bathtub instead.
The room accessibility was surprisingly good, with plenty of space to move about in my power wheelchair and a bathtub that featured a built-in seat. Here are some measurements of the room’s accessible features:
- Bed height to top of mattress — 26 inches
- Clear space under bed — None; platform bed
- Sink height; free space under sink — 29 inches; 25 inches
- Toilet seat height — 17 inches
- Toilet grab bar height — 36 inches
- Bathtub seat height — 18 inches
- Bathtub basin height — 16 inches
- Bathtub grab bar height — 30 inches and 23 inches (parallel bars)
- Guest room door width — 35 inches
- Door peephole height — 48.5 inches (lower)
- Bathroom door width — 35 inches
- Desk height; free space under desk — 32 inches; 27 inches
To research room rates or to make a reservation, visit the Motel 6 website.
Wheelchair accessible Roswell hotels worth considering
The following hotels advertise wheelchair accessible guest rooms in Roswell, New Mexico, offer convenient access to the city’s attractions, and are worth considering for your stay. Be sure to verify that the hotel will be able to meet your specific accessibility needs.
- Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Roswell
- Hampton Inn & Suites Roswell
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Roswell
- Home2 Suites by Hilton Roswell
- TownePlace Suites by Marriott Roswell
If you have visited Roswell or stayed at any of the hotels highlighted in this travel guide, please share your experience with accessibility in the comments below!