Colorado Altitude Sickness: Ultimate Guide & 7 Tips To Prevent
As a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, Colorado is the highest state in America with elevations reaching over 14,000 feet. As a company based in Colorado, we'll share our years of experience with Colorado altitude, Colorado altitude sickness, and how to prevent Colorado altitude sickness.
Colorado has a mean elevation of 6,800 feet above sea level. Colorado altitude ranges based on the area you visit, and has popularized the word 14er's for having so many mountains over 14,000 feet.
- Colorado altitude (mean) - 6,800 ft (2,074m)
- Colorado highest altitude (Mount Elbert) - 14,440 ft (4,401 m)
- Colorado lowest altitude (Arikaree River) - 3,317 ft (1,011 m)
Colorado is the highest state in America, surpassing the elevations of both Wyoming and Utah. With its capital Denver nicknamed Mile High City, Colorado is no stranger to high heights and altitude sickness. The elevation in Colorado ranges from 3,315 feet (1,010 meters) at the state's lowest point, the Arikaree River, to 14,440 feet (4,401 meters) at the top of Mount Elbert, the state's highest peak.
Elevations In Colorado
Colorado is known for its stunning mountain landscapes, and with that comes high elevations. Many popular destinations in Colorado are above 5,000 feet, such as Denver (5,280 feet), Boulder (5,430 feet), and Colorado Springs (6,035 feet).
Popular ski resorts, including Vail, Breckenridge, and Aspen, all have base elevations above 8,000 feet, and some of their highest peaks reach over 14,000 feet. The eastern plains are relatively flat, while the western part of the state is home to the Rocky Mountains, which are home to the may ski resorts and mountains towns that have much higher elevations
Here we detail each of the high altitude destinations throughout Colorado:
The elevation of Aspen Colorado is 7,908 feet
above sea level. Almost at 8,000 feet, visitors of Aspen have a high chance of getting altitude sickness.
- Aspen altitude - 7,908 feet (2,438 m)
In the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Aspen is a popular ski resort town known for world-class skiing, stunning scenery, and as a luxurious getaway. Aspen is home to four ski areas: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass. And five-star hotels including The Little Nell and The St. Regis Aspen Resort.
- Boulder altitude - 5,318 ft (1,621 m)
Located at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder is known for its natural beauty, outdoor recreation opportunities, and vibrant arts and culture scene. One of the most popular outdoor attractions in Boulder is the Flatirons, a series of five rock formations that provide a stunning backdrop to the city, and others include Boulder Creek, Chautauqua Park, and the Boulder Reservoir. Also a popular college town being home to the University of Colorado.
- Breckenridge altitude 9,600 ft (2,900 m)
Breckenridge is known for its historic downtown main street with restaurants and shops, its Breckenridge Ski Resort for skiing and snowboarding, and its many outdoor amenities.
Colorado Springs Elevation
- Colorado Springs altitude - 6,035 feet (1,839 m)
The main attractions in Colorado Springs is Garden of the Gods, United States Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak, Manitou Incline, and endless outdoor adventures.
- Denver altitude - 5,280 ft (1609 m)
Denver is the capital of the state of Colorado, a dynamic and exciting city that offers something for everyone, from outdoor enthusiasts to culture seekers to business professionals. For outdoor enthusiasts, Denver is just a short drive away from some of the best skiing and hiking in the country.
Estes Park Elevation
- Estes Park altitude - 7,522 ft (2,293 m)
Estes Park is the gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park with beautiful mountain landscapes attracting hikers, campers, fishers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Fort Collins Elevation
- Fort Collins altitude - 5,003 ft (1,525 m)
In northern Colorado, Ft Collins is the 4th largest city in the state and home to Colorado State University.
- Frisco altitude - 9,097 ft (2,766 m)
Frisco is a vacation destination and popular pitstop to ski resorts because of its proximity including Breckenridge, Copper, and Keystone.
Glenwood Springs Elevation
- Glenwood Springs altitude - 5,761 ft (1,756 m)
Situated at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Roaring Fork River and surrounded by the Rocky Mountains, Glenwood attracts many visits with its year-round activities and proximity to top Colorado destinations.
Pikes Peak Elevation
The elevation of Pikes Peak is 14,115 feet
above sea level. With ones of the highest altitudes in Colorado, it's best to be well prepared for Pikes Peak considering research showing nearly 50% getting altitude sickness at these heights.
- Pikes Peak altitude - 14,115 feet (4,302)
Named America's Mountain, Pikes Peak is one of the most famous mountains in the US for climbers, hikers, and sight-seers — and the highest point of any peak east of its longitude.
- Snowmass altitude - 8,104 ft (2,470 m)
Snowmass has some of Colorado's best skiing and is larger than the three ski resorts in Aspen combined — including Buttermilk, Ajax, and Aspen Highlands.
- Steamboat altitude - 6,900 ft (2,103 m)
Steamboat Springs is a charming town located in northwestern Colorado which is known for its world-class skiing and natural hot springs (Strawberry Park Natural Hot Springs).
- Telluride altitude - 8,750 feet (2,670 m)
Telluride is surrounded by the San Juan Mountains and is known for its stunning natural beauty and world-famous skiing at Telluride Ski Resort.
The elevation of Vail Colorado is 8,150 feet
above sea level. According to the University of Colorado School of Medicine, around 30% mountain visitors in Colorado can get altitude sickness, which will put at high risk in Vail.³
- Vail altitude - 8,150 ft (2,484 m)
Vail is a world-renowned ski resort town in Eagle County Colorado, with a unique blend of outdoor adventures and the luxurious Vail Village.
Winter Park Elevation
- Winter Park altitude - 9,052 ft (2,780 m)
Winter Park is a perfect destination for those looking to enjoy the beauty and adventure of the Colorado mountains, featuring its Winter Park Ski resort.
Now that you know the altitude of Colorado in different areas, read further to learn more about Colorado altitude sickness and our best tips to prevent it.
Is Colorado Considered High Altitude?
Yes, Colorado is considered high altitude.
Mountain medicine indicates that high altitude starts at 4,900 feet above sea level. Not only is the mean altitude of Colorado well beyond that at 6,900 feet, some of the mountains are even considered very high altitude by exceeding 11,500 feet.
Highest Altitude In Colorado
While there's many high elevation locations throughout Colorado, Mount Elbert is the highest altitude in the state at 14,440 feet above sea level.
There's 58 peaks in Colorado that exceed 14,000 feet that are coined the nickname 14'ers by locals. Mount Elbert is the highest, but all these mountains come very close in height.
Can You Get Altitude Sickness Visiting Colorado?
Yes, you can get altitude sickness visiting Colorado.
Altitude sickness is noted to start at 5,000 feet.¹² With Denver at 5,280 feet, and most destinations in Colorado above Denver's elevation, your chances of altitude sickness in Colorado is very high.
Furthermore, mountain destinations quickly jump to over 8,000 feet in elevation in places like Vail and Breckenridge where the altitude has more extreme effects.
Colorado Altitude Sickness
Colorado altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), is a condition caused by lower oxygen levels at high altitudes.
Physiological and oxidative stress will wear on the body with lack of oxygen. In addition, Colorado's climate can be dry and cold in certain areas, leading to increased loss in fluids. Symptoms of headache and fatigue can start to set in.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness and lightheadedness
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Feeling ill
Keep an eye out when you first arrive in Colorado, as altitude sickness symptoms typically develop within 6-24 hours.
7 Tips To Prevent Colorado Altitude Sickness
If you want to enjoy all that Colorado has to offer, with endless outdoor adventures and breathtaking scenery, you want to be well prepared for altitude sickness.
Being based in Colorado, we have more than ten years of high altitude experience to share with you. We'll dive into our best and most researched tips to prevent Colorado altitude sickness.
Here's 7 Tips To Prevent Colorado Altitude Sickness:
1. Prioritize Hydration
When traveling to the high elevations of Colorado, the thin air causes increased respiration. Wilderness Medical Society estimates that you lose water twice as fast compared to sea level.²⁰
It's commonly recommended to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water a day. This can help minimize risks of dehydration.
2. Gradually Ascend
One of the best ways to prevent altitude sickness in Colorado is to gradually ascend to higher elevations.²⁶ By gradually ascending, it reduces the strain on your body and gives your body time to acclimate to the altitude.
For example, if flying into the Denver Airport
from from sea level, it's best to stay a few nights in Denver at 5,280 feet before heading to the mountains. This helps your body acclimate before you go to higher heights such as Breckenride at 9,600 feet. If you go directly to Breckenridge from sea level, the altitude sickness could be substantially worse.
3. Get Plenty Of Sleep
Sleep is paramount to your body's ability to recover and adjust. It's also found to improve oxygen and blood flow.²¹
7-9 hours of sleep a night is optimal. Also, by getting plenty of natural sunlight during the day can help your melatonin production and sleeping cycling.
4. Limit Alcohol
While it may be tempting to indulge in a few drinks while enjoying Colorado — alcohol is a diuretic causing dehydration, it can decrease oxygen saturation levels in the blood, and it can lower your sleep quality.²²
It's best to limit alcohol or avoid it until a day or two after arrival, or until at least you don't feel any signs of altitude sickness coming on.
5. Take It Easy
By taking it easy and allowing your body time to adjust, you lessen the stress on your body to better acclimate. This means avoiding strenuous activities such as hiking, skiing, climbing, and snowshoeing.
Take it easy your first few days at arriving at Colorado's high altitude, and it's also important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed. If you experience symptoms such as headache or extreme fatigue, rest until you feel recovered.
6. Descend Immediately
If you're visiting a very high altitude location such as Leadville Colorado, or planning to hike or ski the Rocky Mountains, descend immediately if you feel serious symptoms of altitude sickness. At heights between 10,000 to 14,000 feet in the mountain of Colorado, altitude sickness can be significantly worse for visitors coming from sea level.
Descending can help alleviate symptoms, or at minimum help them from getting worse. For example if skiing at Vail, while the town sits at 8150 feet, the peaks can reach 11,570 feet. If you feel symptoms coming on while skiing, it's best to descend down back to the lodge or your hotel until you feel normal again.
7. Supplement Antioxidants
Oxidative stress has been well researched to be caused by high altitude conditions.²³ Antioxidants are popularly used to fight oxidative stress and have been proven to be promising option.²⁴
One study alone found glutathione to deplete by 45% at high altitudes, which is considered to be the body's master antioxidant.²⁵ Supplement antioxidants including glutathione if possible, to help replenish your body and support your ability to fight free radical damage.
In summary, follow these top tips to prevent Colorado altitude sickness on your trip — including prioritizing hydration, gradually ascending, getting plenty of sleep, limiting alcohol, taking it easy descending immediately, and supplementing antioxidants.
Top-Rated Colorado Altitude Supplement
First popularized in Colorado, Zaca's chewables are can help whether exploring the mountains or taking a flight. These chewables are designed to help you rehydrate and recover quickly. Formulated with a powerful blend of natural ingredients including glutathione that work together to support antioxidants, replenishment, and performance. With Zaca, you'll experience a host of benefits that will leave you feeling your best for when you go higher. Made in to-go packets convenient for travel, simply take 2-4 chewables per day or as needed. Try Zaca chewable tablets today for your next trip, your body will thank you!
1. Colorado Elevation
2. Mean Elevation In Each State - Arizona 7th Highest
3. Don’t let altitude sickness ruin your trip to Colorado
4. Steamboat Colorado Elevation
5. Aspen Colorado Elevation
6. Boulder Colorado Elevation
7. Denver Colorado Elevation
8. Effects of high altitude on humans
9. Breckenridge Colorado Elevation
10. Vail Colorado Elevation
11. Colorado Springs Elevation
12. High-altitude illness (including mountain sickness)
13. Fort Collins Colorado Elevation
14. Estes Park Colorado Elevation
15. Glenwood Springs Colorado Elevation
16. Telluride Colorado Elevation
17. Snowmass Village Colorado Elevation
18. Pikes Peak Elevation
19. Winter Park Colorado Elevation
20. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
21. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
22. Effects of Alcohol
23. High altitude and oxidative stress
24. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure
25. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione
26. USARIEM researches how to sustain acclimatization in Pikes Peak laboratory
27. What Are 14ers? Learn About Colorado’s Peaks Over 14,000 Feet