Asheville Altitude Sickness: Complete Guide & 4 Tips To Avoid It

Asheville Altitude Sickness

For its scenic beauty, vibrant city, and outdoor activities — Asheville North Carolina is a popular vacation and living destination. With our expertise on high altitudes, this complete guide will cover everything you need to know about Asheville altitude sickness and 4 tips to avoid it.

Asheville Altitude

Asheville altitude sits at 2,200 feet above sea level.¹ While only half the elevation of Denver at 5,280 feet, Asheville is still higher than most US cities.

  • Asheville altitude - 2,200 ft (670 m) 

Asheville is a city of mountains with natural scenery that is known for attracting tourists and a great place to live. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains — Asheville is very close to high altitude destinations such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park including Clingmans Dome, and Mount Mitchell's summit which is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River.

  • Great Smoky Mountains National Park altitude - 876 feet (267 m) to 6,643 ft (2025 m)
  • Clingmans Dome altitude -  6,643 ft (2,025 m)
  • Mount Mitchell's summit altitude - 6,684 ft (2,037 m)

Nearby ski resorts are another major attraction to Asheville. These high-altitude mountains to ski and snowboard include — Appalachian Ski Mountain, Beech Mountain Ski Resort, Sugar Mountain, Cataloochee Ski Area (Maggie Valley), and Wolf Ridge Ski Resort.

  • Appalachian Ski Mountain altitude - 4,000 ft (1,200 m)
  • Beech Mountain Ski Resort altitude - 5,506 ft (1,678 m)
  • Sugar Mountain altitude - 5,236 ft (1,596 m)
  • Cataloochee Ski Area altitude 5,400 ft (1,646 m)
  • Wolf Ridge Ski Resort 4,600 feet (1,402 m)

While Asheville is at a modest elevation, these surrounding mountains and destinations get significantly higher in altitude and require some preparation.

Can You Get Altitude Sickness In Asheville NC?

No, it's not likely to get altitude sickness in Asheville NC. However, you can get altitude sickness in many of Asheville's surrounding outdoor destinations.

While the altitude of Asheville NC is 2,200 feet, the nearby mountains get to high altitudes between 5,000 to 7,000 feet. At these elevations you can get altitude sickness.

The University Of Michigan reports that altitude sickness starts at 6,000 feet.⁵ Although even in Denver at 5,280 feet high, approximately 10% of visitors can get symptoms of altitude sickness.⁴

Is Asheville Considered High Altitude?

No, Asheville is not considered high altitude. 

The altitude of Asheville NC is 2,200 feet, and Mountain Medicine defines high altitude to be between 4,900 to 11,500 feet high (1,500–3,500 m).⁶

While Asheville does not meet this criteria, many of the mountains and ski resorts surrounding it are considered high altitude — including Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Clingmans Dome, Mount Mitchell, Beech Mountain Ski Resort, Sugar Mountain, and Cataloochee Ski Area.

Asheville Altitude Sickness

Asheville altitude sickness, while is not a threat in the city, is more common in the surrounding mountains with higher altitudes.

Altitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness, occurs from lower oxygen levels known as hypoxia at high elevations. Increased respiration and oxidative stress from high altitudes further causes physiological strain on the body.

The symptoms range from mild headaches and nausea to more severe problems like vomiting and shortness of breath, and can typically start within 24 hours. 

Symptoms of Asheville Altitude Sickness:

  • headaches
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • fatigue or weakness
  • vomiting
  • difficulty breathing
  • feeling ill

If you're going to visit Asheville and play in its surrounding mountains and outdoor activities, you'll want to be prepared on how to avoid altitude sickness.

4 Tips To Avoid Asheville Altitude Sickness

When visiting Asheville and its surrounding mountains to hike, ski, and play — you'll need to know how to avoid altitude sickness.

Being based in Colorado, we'll share with you the top tips based on our high altitude experience and research.

Here's four tips to avoid Asheville altitude sickness:

1. Maximize Your Hydration

Drink plenty of water before and during your trip to keep your body hydrated at high altitudes.

Your body reacts to higher altitudes with increased respiration due to the lack of oxygen, therefore losing fluids faster with risk of dehydration. Wilderness Medical Society estimates you lose water twice as fast at high elevations versus sea level.⁸

Dehydration symptoms like headaches or fatigue make it harder on your body, in fact, hydration has been shown to also improve oxygenation in the body.⁷ Pay attention to your urine color turning yellow, which can be a sign of dehydration.

Although there are no hard-and-fast rules about how much water is needed per person per day while traveling at altitude — or even during exercise at elevation — there is one general guideline by experts that can be helpful: Drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.

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

2. Take It Easy

If you plan to hike, ski, or explore the outdoors, take it easy at first.

Don’t overexert yourself or go too far up a mountain without resting often along the way. Gradually increase how fast and far you go until your body adapts to the lower oxygen levels in the air at higher elevations.

Avoid overexertion. Try to limit strenuous exercise until you have acclimated to the change in elevation. These may take a day, or up to a few days until you know you're free of any symptoms of altitude sickness.

Sleep is also critical. OrthoCarolina reports that sleep helps improve recovery and also increases blood flow and oxygen,⁹ which makes it very important for altitude adjustment.

3. Limit Alcohol Consumption

While alcohol can be a good thing to help you relax, it can also exacerbate some of the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Alcohol acts as a diuretic, which means it makes you urinate more frequently. As a result, your body loses a lot of water and electrolytes, which can make you feel dehydrated and even sick.

Hangovers and altitude sickness won't mix well. Alcohol has also been shown to decrease oxygen saturation,¹⁰ and that won't help with the high altitude lower oxygen levels.

If you're going to drink alcohol in the Asheville mountainous areas, limit yourself and avoid drinking any alcohol before bedtime until you're acclimated.

4. Supplement Glutathione

Glutathione is the master antioxidant in your body that helps protect your cells from oxidative stress by keeping free radicals under control.

High altitudes have been found to put high amounts of oxidative stress on the body, and also deplete glutathione from the body.

  • In research of out India, it was discovered that high altitudes can deplete glutathione by up to 45%.¹¹
Supplement glutathione to replace and replenish your levels, which can boost your antioxidants to fight off high altitude oxidative stress.

In conclusion, follow these four tips to help avoid Asheville altitude sickness — which includes maximizing your hydration, taking it easy, limiting alcohol consumption, and supplementing glutathione.

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1. Asheville North Carolina Altitude
2. Mount Mitchell Altitude
3. Ski Slopes and Resorts near Asheville
4. Don’t let altitude sickness ruin your trip to Colorado
5. Altitude Sickness University Of Michigan Health Service
6. Effects of high altitude on humans
7. Tips to Boost Your Oxygen Saturation Level at Home
8. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
9. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
10. Effects of Alcohol
11. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione