Arizona Altitude Sickness: The Ultimate Guide & 7 Proven Steps

Arizona Altitude Sickness

Arizona is home to many beautiful mountains and desert landscape that offer breathtaking views. However, being the 7th highest state, visitors are surprised by the high altitudes which pose a risk of altitude sickness. As a company with years of high altitude experience, in this ultimate guide we will share everything you need to know about Arizona altitude and the best seven steps to avoid Arizona altitude sickness.

Arizona Altitude

Arizona has a mean elevation of 4,100 feet above sea level. Arizona's elevation has a wide range, from the highest point Humphreys Peak at 12,637 feet, to the lowest point of 72 feet at the Colorado River.

  • Arizona altitude (mean) - 4,100 ft (1,250 m)
  • Arizona highest altitude (Humphreys Peak) - 12,637 ft (3,852 m)
  • Arizona lowest altitude (Colorado River) - 72 ft (22 m)

Known as the Grand Canyon State, these Arizona elevations make it the 7th highest state in America. Tourists and locals alike have to be prepared for altitude sickness when visiting many of its high-altitude destinations.

Elevations In Arizona

Arizona is home to many mountains and high elevation regions, you’ll find some of the most beautiful scenery in all of America. From the Grand Canyon to Sedona, there is no shortage of breathtaking views and gorgeous landscapes.

We dive into the elevations of Arizona cities and destinations with the highest altitudes:

Cottonwood Elevation

The elevation of Cottonwood Arizona is 3,314 feet above sea level. At this altitude, Cottonwood is still below the height threshold for altitude sickness, although nearby mountains gradually increase your risk.

  • Cottonwood altitude - 3,314 ft (1,010 m)
Cottonwood is located just a short drive from Sedona with its stunning red rock formations — including Coconino National Forest and the Red Rock State Park.

Flagstaff Elevation

The elevation of Flagstaff Arizona is 6,909 feet above sea level. At this elevation, you could be at risk for altitude sickness.

  • Flagstaff altitude - 6,909 feet (2,106 m)
Established as a railroad town in the late 1800s as a railroad town. It has since become a hub for outdoor recreation, with opportunities for hiking, skiing, and camping in the nearby mountains. The city is also home to Northern Arizona University.

Gilbert Elevation

The elevation of Gilbert Arizona is 1,237 feet above sea level. Gilbert is considered low altitude without a risk of altitude sickness.

  • Gilbert altitude - 1,237 ft (377 m)
In the southeastern part of the Phoenix metropolitan area, Gilbert is a great place to live with a family-friendly community offering a high quality of life.

Grand Canyon Elevation

The elevation of the Grand Canyon climbs as high as 8,000 feet above sea level. At these altitudes, similar to the Rocky Mountains, you better be well prepared for the high risk of altitude sickness.

  • Grand Canyon altitude - 7,000 ft to 8,000 ft (2,100 m to 2,400 m)
Grand Canyon National Park attracts millions of visitors every year who come to explore the canyon's stunning natural beauty and geological formations.

Humphreys Peak Elevation

The elevation of Humphreys Peak Arizona is 12,637 feet above sea level. As the 26th most prominent mountain in the US and the highest in Arizona, this climb is not for the meek and the altitude sickness can be intense.

  • Humphreys Peak altitude - 12,637 ft (3,852 m)
As an iconic mountain in Arizona, Humphreys Peak attracts many with its strenuous 5-mile climb and breathtaking views.

Kayenta Elevation

The elevation of Kayenta Arizona is 5,700 feet above sea level. Exceeding 5,000 feet high, Kayenta is at an elevation with risk of altitude sickness.

  • Kayenta altitude 5,700 ft (1,738 m)
A small town located in the northeastern part of Arizona, Kayenta is in close proximity to several natural wonders — including Monument Valley and the Navajo National Monument.

Kingman Elevation

The elevation of Kingman Arizona is 3,333 feet above sea level. Higher than Phoenix and Scottsdale, Kingman is not quite high enough to be worried about altitude sickness.

  • Kingman altitude - 3,333 ft (1,016 m)
Part of northern Arizona, Kingman is a charming and historic city that offers a unique blend of outdoor recreation, Route 66 nostalgia, and Western heritage.

Mesa Elevation

The elevation of Mesa Arizona is 1,326 feet above sea level. Just like Phoenix, Mesa's altitude won't put you at risk for altitude sickness.

  • Mesa altitude - 1,326 ft (404 m)
Mesa is Arizona's third-largest city that has numerous attractions, activities, and urban amenities.

Mount Lemmon Elevation

The elevation of Mt Lemmon Arizona is 9,171 feet above sea level. These are some of the highest elevations in the state, and at close to 10,000 feet it's been reported to cause altitude sickness in up to 50% of people.¹⁸

  • Mt Lemmon altitude - 9,171 ft (2,795 m)
Mount Lemmon is the highest point of the Santa Catalina Mountains and home to skiing and winter sports nearby Tucson.

Page Elevation

The elevation of Page Arizona is 4,300 feet above sea level. At a height comparative to Salt Lake City at 4,265 feet, Page has a moderate risk of altitude sickness.

  • Page altitude - 4,300 feet (1,300 m)
Near the Arizona-Utah border, Page is known for its stunning natural beauty, including Lake Powell, Antelope Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend. It is a gateway to several national parks and recreation areas — including the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, and Bryce Canyon National Park.

Payson Elevation

The elevation of Payson Arizona is 5,000 feet above sea level. Similar to the altitude of Denver and Boulder Colorado, altitude sickness can be a risk to a moderate amount of visitors.

  • Payson altitude 5,000 feet (1,500 m)
Located in the Mogollon Rim region, Payson is known for its beautiful forests and mountainous terrain.  The high altitude of Payson also makes it an ideal location for outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping, and fishing.

Phoenix Elevation

The elevation of Phoenix Arizona is 1,243 feet above sea level. While higher than sea level, Phoenix does not have a risk of altitude sickness for visitors, only if exploring outside of the city in the mountains.

  • Phoenix altitude - 1,243 ft (379 m)
As the capital city of Arizona, Phoenix is the most populous city in Arizona. With a wide range of cultural, recreational, and economic opportunities ─ Phoenix is the hub to this beautiful and diverse state.

Prescott Elevation

The elevation of Prescott Arizona is 5,367 feet above sea level. With research showing altitude sickness starting around 5,000 feet, Prescott exceeds safe heights.

  • Prescott altitude 5,367 ft (1,636 m)
Prescott is in central Arizona, surrounded by lakes, rivers, mountains, and national forests for endless outdoor activities.

Scottsdale Elevation

The elevation of Scottsdale Arizona is 2,165 feet above sea level. Although higher than Phoenix, unless you're going off into the foothills like Butte Peak at 4,890 feet, altitude sickness is not common in Scottsdale.

  • Scottsdale altitude - 2,165 ft (660 m)
Known not only for its luxurious resorts, spas, and golf courses, Scottsdale also features numerous outdoor recreation opportunities including hiking and biking trails.

Sedona Altitude

The elevation of Sedona Arizona is 4350 feet above sea level. Slightly over the height of Salt Lake City where some visitors can feel altitude sickness, Sedona and more intensely its mountainous areas have a risk from its elevations.

  • Sedona altitude - 4350 feet (1330 m)
Sedona is one of the most iconic destinations in Arizona that offers numerous outdoor adventures and scenic views.

Tempe Elevation

The elevation of Tempe Arizona is 1,140 feet above sea level. At about the same altitude of Phoenix, you won't have an issue with altitude sickness at these low heights.

  • Tempe altitude 1,140 feet (350 m)
Just outside of Phoenix, Tempe is home to Arizona State University, one of the largest universities in the country.

Tucson Elevation

The elevation of Tucson Arizona is 2,643 feet above sea level. With a moderate altitude comparable to Scottsdale, these elevations won't cause worry unless venturing out to the mountains such as Mt Lemmon at 9,171 feet.

  • Tucson altitude 2,643 ft (806 m)
Located in the southern part of Arizona close to the Mexico border, the city of Tucson situated in the Sonoran Desert and is surrounded by several mountain ranges — including the Santa Catalina Mountains and the Tucson Mountains.

Williams Elevation

The elevation of Williams Arizona is 6,800 feet above sea level. Visiting Williams and its surrounding areas carries a high risk of altitude sickness.

  • Williams altitude - 6,800 feet (2,100 m)
The city is known for its historic downtown area, thriving tourism industry and hotels, Williams Depot for scenic train rides, and its close proximity to the Grand Canyon.

Yuma Elevation

The elevation of Yuma Arizona is 141 feet above sea level. As one of the lowest cities in Arizona, you won't have to worry about altitude sickness in Yuma.

  • Yuma altitude - 141 ft (43 m)
Yuma is located near the Mexico-U.S. border, surrounded by several outdoor recreation areas, including the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, and close to the Colorado River for fishing, and other water sports.

Keep reading to learn more about Arizona altitude sickness and our best steps to avoid it.

Does Arizona Give You Altitude Sickness?

Yes, depending on where you visit in Arizona, many of its destinations will give you altitude sickness.

Research shows that altitude sickness can start at 5,000 feet.¹⁸ While anecdotal evidence shows elevation even lower like in Salt Lake City at 4,227 feet can give visitors altitude sickness.

Many of Arizona's destinations, outside of the metro city of Phoenix, goes to elevations considered high risk for altitude sicknes. Ranging from 4,000 and 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet such as the Grand Canyon.

Highest Altitude In Arizona

Humphreys Peak has the highest altitude in all of Arizona, with a summit of 12,637 feet.

  • Humphreys Peak altitude - 12,637 ft (3,852 m)

Just south of it, Flagstaff sits at 7,000 feet as one of the higher elevation cities in the US, up there with many of the high-altitude cities in Colorado and Utah.

Does Arizona Have High Altitude?

Yes, Arizona has high altitude.

As the 7th highest state in America, Arizona stands at 4,100 feet mean elevation.² Mountain medicine recognizes high altitude to start at 4,900 feet. While on average Arizona is slightly below that mark, many of its destinations are at that level or well above it, therefore considering them high altitude.²¹

These high-altitude destinations include the Grand Canyon, Williams, Flagstaff, Prescott, Payson, Kayenta — as well as many of Arizona's mountains such as Humphreys Peak and Mount Lemmon.

Arizona Altitude Sickness

As a state with high elevations by comparison to most, Arizona altitude sickness is a common threat. It is caused by low oxygen levels at high altitudes — which also leads to other physiological and oxidative stresses on your body.

If you're visiting Arizona from a lower elevation, especially true if you're planning to hike or climb mountains, Arizona altitude sickness can be a major setback. In addition, the dry desert climate causing dehydration can exacerbate symptoms, many which lead to  headache, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

The symptoms of Arizona altitude sickness include:

  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Extreme fatigue or tiredness
  • Shortness of breath while resting or walking slowly
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling ill
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia

Symptoms of Arizona altitude sickness usually develop within 6-24 hours. You'll want to pay close attention to feeling any signs, and prepare the best you can by following the steps below.

7 Steps To Avoid Arizona Altitude Sickness

Arizona is a state that offers so many outdoor scenic spots and adventures, and with such activities comes altitude sickness.

Our company is based in Colorado with years of high-altitude experience, being the highest state in the country. We'll share with you our top tips with research for those looking to avoid or prevent Arizona altitude sickness.

Here's 7 Tips To Avoid Arizona Altitude Sickness:

1. Maximize Your Hydration

One of the most important things you can do when traveling to higher elevations is to drink plenty of water. Not only is Arizona's dry and hot climate further worsen dehydration, high elevations leads to increased respiration and fluid loss.

According to the Wilderness Medical Society, you lose water twice as fast than at sea level.²² Experts commonly recommend drink at least half your body weight in water per day.

TIP: To enhance hydration, add sea salt (electrolytes) to your food or drink, and take Zaca hydration tablets to improve water absorption.

2. Gradually Acclimate

Gradually acclimate if possible by slowly and gradually ascending to each high altitude destination. The slower you do this, the easier your body can adjust to new altitudes with lower oxygen.

For example, if you're visiting the Grand Canyon which reaches heights of 8,000 feet, stay somewhere like Williams at 6,800 feet for a night or two.

3. Limit Alcohol

Alcohol can worsen the symptoms of altitude sickness and slow down the body's acclimatization process. It's known that alcohol can cause dehydration, lower sleep quality, decrease blood oxygen saturation.²³

This combination of negative effects is not something you want while acclimating to Arizona's altitudes. Limit alcohol your first few days visiting or until you feel free of any signs of altitude sickness.

4. Avoid Strenuous Activity

Strenuous physical exercise or activity can cause more stress on the body than needed at high altitudes. If coming from sea level, activity like hiking or running could be too much on your first day.

Avoid strenuous activity until you free better acclimated, which can vary from person to person from 1 day to 5 days, and depending on how high you go in altitude.

5. Climb High, Sleep Low

This is a popular saying in mountaineering circles, "climb high, sleep low." It means to climb or hike at high altitudes during the day, but retreat to lower altitudes at night to sleep.

This applies to the highest altitudes like the Grand Caynon, Sedona, Mt Lemmon, and Humphreys Peak. For example, in Sedona you can hike as high as 7,122 feet, but sleep in town at around 4,350 feet.

6. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep is a top way for your body to repair, recover, and rejuvenate. It also can improve blood flow and oxygen.²⁴ This is key to helping your body adjust.

Get 7-9 hours of sleep, and experts say to get plenty of natural sunlight during the day to assist your sleeping cycles and melatonin production.

7. Take Antioxidants

It's been proven that high altitude conditions cause oxidative stress on the body.²⁶ Antioxidants are shown in research to be a promising solution for that stress.²⁷

One study discovered glutathione, the body's master antioxidant, was actually depleted (up to 45%) due to high elevation exposure.²⁸ Take antioxidants to support your body in combating oxidative stress and free radical damage.

In summary, follow this proven steps to help avoid Arizona's altitude sickness — including maximizing your hydration, gradually acclimating, limiting alcohol, avoiding strenuous activity, climbing high and sleeping low, prioritizing sleep, and taking antioxidants.

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1. Arizona Elevation
2. Mean Elevation In Each State - Arizona 7th Highest
3. Flagstaff Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
4. Williams Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
5. Phoenix Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
6. Scottsdale Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
7. Payson Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
8. Kingman Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
9. Tucson Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
10. Mount Lemmon Elevation
11. Kayenta Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
12. Tempe Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
13. Gilbert Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
14. Cottonwood Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
15. Mesa Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
16. Page Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
17. Sedona Arizona Elevation,_Arizona
18. High-altitude illness (including mountain sickness)
19. Humphreys Peak Elevation
20. Oxygen Levels at Altitude
21. Effects of high altitude on humans
22. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
23. Effects of Alcohol
24. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
25. High altitude and oxidative stress
26. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure
27. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione