5 Steps To Avoid Yosemite Altitude Sickness
Yosemite is a magical place to visit, however, the altitude can cause some people to experience Yosemite altitude sickness. As a high-altitude based company in Colorado, we'll share everything you need to know to navigate the Yosemite altitudes.
Yosemite Altitude ranges from 2,127 feet to 13,114 feet above sea level depending on where in the national park you are.
- Yosemite altitude - 2,127 ft (648 m) to 13,114 ft (3,997 m)
Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States, close to Yellowstone, with over 3 million visitors per year. With its breathtaking views, incredible hikes, and picturesque locations, Yosemite has something for everyone.
Yosemite Valley is one of the most visited parts of the park, which sits about 150 miles east of San Francisco. The valley floor altitude sits at 4000 ft (1219 m) above sea level, but rises to heights of 8846 ft (2696 m) at the iconic Half Dome that attracts hikers and climbers.
Another prominent mountain is Clouds Rest at 9926 feet (3025 m) hike, and the highest peak at Yosemite National Park is Mount Lyell at 13,120 feet high.
Here's some of the high-altitude areas of Yosemite:
- Yosemite Valley floor altitude - 4000 ft (1219 m)
- Half Dome altitude - 8846 ft (2696 m)
- Clouds Rest at 9926 ft (3025 m)
- Mount Lyell altitude - 13,114 ft (3,997 m)
- Yosemite Falls altitude - 6,526 ft (1,989 m)
- Mirror Lake altitude - 10,050 ft (3,060 m)
- Cathedral Lakes altitude - 9,600 ft (2,925 m)
- Bridalveil Fall altitude - 7,569 ft (2,307 m)
- Taft Point altitude - 7,500 ft (2,285 m)
While the base of Yosemite Valley is around 4,000 feet high, the park is home to many peaks that rise to much higher heights. Whether hiking, climbing, or casually touring — you should be well prepared for the chances of getting altitude sickness.
Do people Get Altitude Sickness In Yosemite?
Yes, people can get altitude sickness in Yosemite National Park.
While the average altitude of the Yosemite Valley is around 4,000 feet, exploring will easily take you to height between 6,000 and 13,000 feet above sea level.
Altitude sickness starts at 6,000 feet according to the University of Michigan.⁹ However, being based in Colorado we see many visitors of Denver see altitude sickness symptoms at 5,280 feet high.¹⁰
What Is The Highest Elevation In Yosemite National Park?
The highest elevation in Yosemite National Park is Mount Lyell altitude at 13,114 feet high.
There's many mountain peaks of similar heights in Yosemite, ranging between 6,000 and 13,000 feet high.
Is Yosemite Considered High Altitude?
Yes, although it depends where you visit in Yosemite, many areas are considered high altitude.
Mountain medicine considers elevations between 4,900 and 11,500 feet to be high altitude,¹¹ which would include many areas of Yosemite including Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, Clouds Rest, Mirror Lake, Cathedral Lakes, Bridalveil Fall, and Taft Point. Very high altitude is between 11,500 and 18,000 feet,¹¹ which would include the highest peaks such as Mount Lyell.
What Is The Altitude of Yosemite Valley floor?
The altitude of Yosemite Valley floor is on average 4,000 feet, but quickly rises to 6,000 and 8,000 feet in elevation and higher in the surrounding mountains.
Yosemite Altitude Sickness
Yosemite's high elevation makes it a perfect place for hiking, biking, and camping. But if you're not careful, the elevation can make you feel sick with altitude sickness.
Yosemite altitude sickness occurs when your body isn't used to being at higher altitudes, and is caused by lower oxygen levels in the air also known as hypoxia.
Your body needs oxygen to keep working properly — so not having enough oxygen can cause physiological and oxidative stress leading to altitude sickness symptoms including problems like headaches, dizziness and nausea. Symptoms usually being to occur around 6-24 hours after high-altitude arrival.
Yosemite altitude sickness symptoms may include:
- nausea or vomiting
- fatigue or weakness
- difficulty breathing
- trouble sleeping
- feeling ill or malaise
If you're planning a trip to Yosemite National Park, it's important to plan ahead to help avoid Yosemite altitude sickness, which we'll cover below.
5 Steps To Avoid Yosemite Altitude Sickness
It's no secret that Yosemite National Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. But if you're planning on visiting the park and want to avoid altitude sickness, there are five simple steps that may help you out.
Being based in Colorado, we know high altitude well and from our experience we'll share our best steps with you.
Here's 5 steps to avoid Yosemite altitude sickness:
1. Climb High, Sleep Low
One of the best ways to avoid Yosemite altitude sickness is to climb high and sleep low during your visit.
If you're going hiking, climbing or exploring within Yosemite National Park at elevations of 6,000 feet and above, such as Half Dome at 8846 feet, plan to spend your night at a lower altitude.
For example, since the Yosemite Valley floor is on average 4,000 feet, it's a perfect spot to retreat to each night with a tolerable elevation. This gives your body time to adjust and recover from hiking during the day.
2. Maximize Hydration
The importance of staying hydrated cannot be overstated. Both dehydration and altitude sickness share symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and fatigue.
Due to increased respiration at higher elevations, the Wilderness Medical Society states that you can lose water at high altitude twice as fast as at sea level.¹³ This can lead to severe dehydration, pay attention to signs such as your urine turning dark yellow.
It's also been show that hydration can improve oxygenation within the body¹², which could help altitude adjustment. It's recommended to drink half your body weight in water each day, and increase the amount if doing strenuous exercise such as hiking.
To boost hydration, add sea salt (electrolytes) to your water or food, and take Zaca hydration tablets
to enhance water absorption.
3. Get Plenty Of Rest
Rest and sleep are vital to altitude adjustment.
You should avoid vigorous exercise on your first day or two when you're going up in elevation to Yosemite. Save your hikes and climbing for day two or three. And when you go on hikes, take plenty of breaks when your body is telling you to slow down.
While sleep is vital for adjustment, altitude sickness can make cause sleeping difficulty and even insomnia. Even more of a reason to get plenty of sleep. In fact, OrthoCarolina states that sleep can improve recovery, while increasing blood flow and oxygen.¹⁴
For optimal sleep and rest for the body, try getting 7-9 hours of sleep each time and ample rest before your Yosemite trip.
4. Limit Alcohol
Avoid alcohol consumption, as it can cause dehydration and increase your risks of symptoms like headaches.
A hangover and altitude sickness are a terrible combination and will lead to a miserable Yosemite trip. Alcohol has proven to also has decrease oxygen saturation,¹⁵ which could damper your body's ability to adjust to lower oxygen levels.
Limit alcohol at least on your first day or two until you're not showing any signs of altitude sickness.
5. Replenish Antioxidants
Antioxidants are nutrients that help protect cells against damage from free radicals, which is known to happen at high altitudes.¹⁶
Glutathione, known as the body's master antioxidant, can help your body fight off high-altitude oxidative stress.
- Research in India found glutathione to deplete up to 45% from high elevation exposure.¹⁷
You can replenish your antioxidants at high altitudes by supplementing glutathione, which will help increase your levels to fight oxidative stress.
In conclusion, follow these steps to avoid Yosemite altitude sickness
— which includes climb high sleep low, maximize hydration, get plenty of rest, limit alcohol consumption, and replenish antioxidants.
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1. Yosemite's Highest Peaks
2. Yosemite National Park
3. Yosemite Valley
4. Half Dome
5. Clouds Rest
6. Mount Lyell
7. Yosemite Falls Trail
8. 11 Top-Rated Hikes in Yosemite National Park
9. Altitude Sickness University Of Michigan Health Service
10. Don’t let altitude sickness ruin your trip to Colorado
11. Effects of high altitude on humans
12. Tips to Boost Your Oxygen Saturation Level at Home
13. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
14. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
15. Effects of Alcohol
16. High altitude and oxidative stress
17. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione