El Paso Altitude Sickness: Must-Read Guide & 5 Tips

El Paso Altitude Sickness

If you're planning to visit El Paso, the 6th largest city in Texas, you'll go up in altitude upon arrival. In this guide we'll review everything you need to know about El Paso altitude and five tips how to avoid El Paso altitude sickness.

El Paso Altitude 

El Paso altitude sits at 3,740 feet high above sea level. Surrounded by the Chihuahuan Desert, El Paso is south of the Rocky Mountains in the Franklin Mountains.

  • El Paso altitude - 3,740 ft (1,140 m)

As an a city in the far western part of Texas, El Paso is situated along the Rio Grande River across from the city of Juarez, Mexico. Overall, El Paso offers a unique blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and modern amenities, making it a vibrant and dynamic city in the American Southwest.

In addition to its cultural offerings such as historic sites and museums, El Paso is also known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities. The city is surrounded by scenic mountain ranges, including the Franklin Mountains, which offer hiking and biking trails, rock climbing, and other outdoor activities. The nearby Hueco Tanks is also a popular destination for rock climbing and camping.

El Paso is far from the highest altitude in the area, the many mountains nearby or a short drive away go much higher in elevation.

High-altitude areas near El Paso:

  • Franklin Mountains altitude - 7,192 ft (2,192 m)
  • Hueco Mountains altitude - 5,106 ft (1,556 m)
  • Organ Mountains altitude - 8,990 ft (2,740 m)
  • Guadalupe Mountains National Park altitude - 8,751 ft (2,667 m) 
  • Davis Mountains altitude - 8,383 ft (2,555 m)
  • Big Bend National Park altitude - 7,832 ft (2,387 m)

Whether visiting El Paso or one of its surrounding mountains, you should be prepared for altitude sickness.

Can You Get Altitude Sickness In El Paso?

Yes, you can have a small risk of altitude sickness in El Paso.

El Paso is at a higher altitude than many other cities, and it's possible to get altitude sickness mainly for travelers coming from sea level. Although El Paso altitude sickness symptoms would be mild at worse as it's slightly lower than Denver, your chances will significantly go up if you're going north into the Franklin Mountains up to 7,192 feet.

Altitude sickness usually starts at around 5,000 feet high,¹⁵ but signs show it can lower and the data on Denver visitors getting altitude sickness is common.

Anecdotal evidence of mild altitude sickness such as this one person that moved to El Paso who said "I moved here (sea level). I'm out of breath. I took about 3 months to get used to it."⁸

El Paso Altitude Sickness

El Paso altitude sickness, or acute mountain sickness, is the result of lower oxygen levels causing physiological stress on the body. In addition, being a desert the weather in El Paso is extremely, similar to Colorado and Arizona.

The combination of lower oxygen (hypoxia) and dry weather can lead to altitude sickness symptoms including fatigue and headache. The higher you go, like the the Franklin Mountains, the higher your risk gets and more symptoms that are possible.

El Paso altitude sickness symptoms may include:

  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Feeling ill or malaise

Symptoms of altitude sickness in El Paso or the nearby mountains can develop within 6-24 hours. Take precautions to avoid altitude sickness and be alert for any symptoms you feel.

5 Tips to Avoid El Paso Altitude Sickness

When you visit El Paso or the Franklin Mountains, you'll want to be best prepared to avoid any mild or moderate altitude sickness.

As a company based in Colorado, we have loads of experience and research on altitude sickness that we'll share, and help you avoid El Paso altitude sickness.

Here's 5 tips to avoid El Paso altitude sickness:

1. Drink Plenty Of Water

You may not feel thirsty at first, but as soon as get to El Paso your body will need extra water. It's estimated that you lose water twice as fast at higher elevations than at sea level.⁹

The desert climate is no friend to water and can contribute further to dehydration risks. Drink plenty of water, most recommend at least half you body weight in ounces of water.

TIP: To boost hydration, use sea salt (electrolytes) on your food or in your drink, and take Zaca's hydration electrolyte chewables to enhance water absorption.

2. Take It Easy

If you're visiting from lower elevations, take it easy during your first few days in El Paso — don't overexert yourself or do any intense exercise.

Furthermore, if you're going to hike, climb or explore the mountainous outdoors, it is best to spend at least a night or two in El Paso before proceeding to higher elevations. This will give your body time to adjust and acclimate to the lower oxygen levels.

3. Optimize Your Sleep

Sleep is a key component for you body to recover and adjust to altitudes, and it's also found to help increase blood flow and oxygen.¹⁰

Keep in mind lower oxygen at higher altitudes can make it harder to sleep, so it's important to optimize your sleep. Shoot for 7-9 hours of sleep, and get plenty of sunlight during the day and complete darkness when sleeping to maximize your circadian rhythm.

4. Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol causes dehydration, worsens your sleep quality, and can lower blood oxygen saturation — this can make it harder for you to adjust to the altitude.¹¹

A hangover at higher elevations is a bad combination. Drink less or limit your alcohol intake for a day or until you feel 100% free of altitude sickness symptoms.

5. Add Antioxidants

Oxidative stress, free radical damage has been proven to be caused by high altitudes.¹² Antioxidants are a special class of nutrients that can help protect your cells from this type of damage.

Furthermore, a study in India showed high elevation to deplete glutathione by 45%.¹³ Taking antioxidants are shown to be effective,¹⁴ you can supplement glutathione to replenish your levels and fight oxidative stress.

In conclusion, follow these top tips for the best chance at avoiding El Paso altitude sickness — including drinking plenty of water, taking it easy, optimizing your sleep, avoiding alcohol, and supplementing antioxidants.

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1. El Paso Texas Altitude
2. Guadalupe Peak Elevation
3. Guadalupe Mountains National Park Elevation
4. Davis Mountains Elevation
5. Big Bend National Park Elevation
6. Effects of high altitude on humans
7. Oxygen Levels at Altitude
8 Should Out-Of-Towners Be Concerned With El Pasos Altitude
9. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
10. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
11. Effects of Alcohol
12. High altitude and oxidative stress
13. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione
14. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure
15. Patient education: High-altitude illness (including mountain sickness)