Salt Lake City Elevation vs Denver: The Difference & Altitude Sickness

Salt Lake City Elevation vs Denver

Salt Lake City and Denver are among some of the most popular high-altitude cities in America. They have some distinct differences that make them unique, including their elevation. In this article, we will compare Salt Lake City elevation vs Denver, with some tips on avoiding altitude sickness in Utah and Colorado.

Salt Lake City Elevation

Salt Lake City has an elevation of 4,265 feet above sea level.

  • Salt Lake City elevation - 4,265 feet (1,288 meters)

The city is located in a valley, nearly surrounded by mountains on most sides. The highest peak in the nearby Wasatch Mountains, Mount Nebo, has an elevation of 11,928 feet. Salt Lake City Utah known for its beautiful scenery, including its mountain backdrop, and is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Denver Elevation

Denver has an elevation of 5,280 feet above sea level.

  • Denver elevation - 5,280 feet (1,609 meters) 

The city is located on the High Plains, east of the Rocky Mountains. The highest peak in the nearby Rocky Mountains, Mount Elbert, has an elevation of 14,440 feet (4,401 meters). Denver Colorado is known for its stark scenery, including its proximity to the mountains, and is a popular destination for skiers and mountain destination vacationers.

Salt Lake City Elevation vs Denver

Salt Lake City has an elevation of 4,265 feet, versus Denver has an elevation of 5,280 feet.

This is a difference of 1,015 feet in elevation. This is equivalent to about a .6% difference in oxygen levels. While it may not seem like much, this can play a significant role in altitude sickness.¹

Is Denver Higher Altitude Than Salt Lake City?

Yes, Denver has a higher altitude than Salt Lake City.
While both high-altitude cities, at 5,280 feet Denver exceeds Salt Lake City's altitude by over 1,000 feet.


Does Utah or Colorado Have More Mountains?

Utah and Colorado are very similar in mountainous areas, but Colorado wins by a small margin.

It is said that Colorado's mountains are higher, but that Utah's mountains appear to be larger and more distinct as they rise higher above their bases.

Is Altitude Sickness Common In Utah?

Yes, altitude sickness is common in Utah including Salt Lake City.

While Salt Lake City will have less instances of altitude sickness than Denver, many of the mountainous areas of Utah have high risk of altitude sickness with higher elevations. 

Utah altitude sickness can be a problem in areas including Bryce Canyon, Park City, Brian Head, and Deer Valley.

Is Altitude Sickness Common In Colorado?

Yes, altitude sickness is common in Colorado including Denver.
Altitude sickness is noted to start around 5,000, which just the city of Denver and Colorado Springs well exceeds.² It's estimated that around 10% of Denver visitors experience altitude sickness, where in the mountains it can get as high as 30%-50%.³
Many of the mountain towns of Colorado reach much higher heights between 7,000 to 10,000 feet including Aspen, Winter Park, Breckenridge, Estes Park, and Telluride.

6 Steps To Avoid Altitude Sickness In Utah & Colorado

Utah and Colorado are known for their breathtaking mountain ranges and high elevations, making them popular destinations for everything outdoor related.
However, the high altitude can also cause altitude sickness, which can be a major setback to any trip. Being based out of Colorado with years of high altitude experience, we'll share the best steps to take.
Here are 6 steps to avoid altitude sickness while enjoying your time in Utah and Colorado:

1. Hydrate 

Staying hydrated is essential to avoiding altitude sickness as higher elevations can cause increased urination and sweating. It's been reported by the Wilderness Medical Society that fluid loss can happen twice as fast at high altitudes.
Drink plenty of water, it's commonly recommended to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water per day.
TIP: To support hydration, put sea salt (electrolytes) in your food, and take Zaca's hydration chewables to help enhance water absorption.

2. Prioritize Your Sleep

Getting enough sleep is crucial to our physical well-being and recovery.⁷ High altitudes can be counterproductive by actually causing sleep issues or insomnia.
Prioritize your sleep, and target 7-9 hours of sleep. One step you can take to help optimize your sleep is getting plenty of natural sunlight during the day, which can increase melatonin production.

3. Avoid Intense Activity

Intense exercise can lead to more physiological and oxidative stress than the body can tolerate with the high altitude environment. 
It is recommended to take it easy for the first few days after arriving at high altitude in Utah and Colorado. Avoid hiking, skiing or any other intense activity until you feel acclimated.

4. Limit Alcohol 

Alcohol can cause similar symptoms as altitude sickness such as headaches and fatigue. Alcohol is also know to lower sleep quality and even decrease oxygen saturation.
Limit alcohol when you first arrive to Salt Lake City or Denver, or at least the first night or two until your body is better adjusted.

5. Acclimate Slowly

Give your body time to acclimate slowly and gradually, as it can be the best remedy for altitude adjustment.
With both Salt Lake City and Denver being between 4,000 and 5,500 feet high, they are good baselines for your trip. Meaning, you can fly into these cities and stay a night or two before heading to the higher altitude mountain destinations like Deer Valley in Utah and Vail in Colorado.

6. Boost Your Antioxidants 

Oxidative stress is a known issue at high elevations in Utah and Colorado.One study showed that these type of high elevations can deplete glutathione in the body, which is known as the body's master antioxidant.¹¹

Supplementing antioxidants can be a promising solution to combat free radical damage, and specifically glutathione can help replenish your levels to normal.¹⁰
Follow these steps to help avoid the high-altitudes of Salt Lake City and Denver — including hydrating, prioritizing your sleep, avoiding intense activities, limiting alcohol, acclimating slowly, and boosting your antioxidant.

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1. Oxygen Levels at Altitude
2. Patient education: High-altitude illness (including mountain sickness)
3. Don’t let altitude sickness ruin your trip to Colorado
4. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
5. Salt Lake City Utah Elevation
6. Denver Colorado Elevation
7. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
8. Effects of Alcohol High altitude and oxidative stress
10. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure
11. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione