High Altitude Tips

Denver really is exactly one mile high. In fact, there is a step on the State Capitol Building that is exactly 5,280 feet above sea level—one mile high. Which step? Well, the 11th step is carved in stone as a mile high, but in 1969, it was found that the actual spot was 4 steps higher. In 2002, it was discovered that Denver is 3 feet higher than previously thought. So take your pick of steps—but one of them is assuredly one mile high. In Denver’s rarified air, golf balls go 10 percent farther . . . and so do cocktails. Alcoholic drinks pack more of a wallop than at sea level. The sun feels warmer, because you’re closer to it, but your coffee is cooler, because water boils at 202 degrees. Denver is also extremely dry, and with less water vapor in the air at this altitude, the sky really is bluer in Colorado. But there’s 25 percent less protection from the sun, so sunscreen is a must.

DRINK WATER both before your trip to Denver, and while you are here. Drinking plenty of water is the number one way to help your body adjust easily to our higher altitude. The low humidity in Colorado keeps the air dry, like the desert, so you need about twice as much water here as you would drink at home. It is also recommended that you go easy on the alcohol in the mountains and in Denver, as its effects will feel stronger here. The effects of exercise are more intense here as well. If you normally run 10 miles a day at home, you might try 6 miles in Denver.

Eat foods high in potassium, such as broccoli, bananas, avocado, cantaloupe, celery, greens, bran, chocolate, granola, dates, dried fruit, potatoes, and tomatoes. They will help you replenish electrolytes by balancing salt intake.

What to bring: Denver receives over 300 days of sunshine each year (more than San Diego or Miami). Bring sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm . . . even in the winter. There is 25 percent less protection from the sun’s rays at Denver’s 5,280 foot elevation.

Weather: Two days before your trip to Denver, visit www.weather.com for the latest on weather and temperature. Please use this information to pack appropriately. Because Denver is closer to the sun, it can feel much warmer than the actual temperature during the daytime, but then become very chilly after sundown. It is best to layer your clothing.

Enjoy yourself! Don't let anything you hear about the mile-high altitude scare you. The air is just thinner and dryer. In fact, many people with respiratory problems move to Denver for the benefits of the dry air. Just follow these simple tips and you will very likely not even notice the difference.

By Visit Denver