At 7,522 feet elevation Estes Park is a differentworld. The air seems thinner and the sun brighter. Learn what clothes to wear, how to stay safe in the mountains and how to avoid altitude sickness.

Most towns in Colorado have welcome signs that list the elevation instead of the population. Estes Park is at 7,522ft and Denver (The Mile High City) is at 5,280ft. 

In fact, Colorado has the highest mean altitude in the U.S. of 6,800ft.

Have a Healthy & Happy High Altitude Experience

When you visit Estes Park, follow these simple rules to ensure you have a positive experience:

  • Get used to it – Don’t dive right in to high-altitude activities. It takes the body time to acclimate to the altitude. Some people get altitude sickness and suffer from fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea, headache, or disturbed sleep. Age, weight, and level of fitness don’t matter when it comes to altitude sickness. Just like humans, pets should be given time to get used to the thinner air. Give your dog lots of water, time to adjust to the altitude, and plenty of rest.
  • Protect yourself – high altitude the sun’s ultraviolet rays are 36 percent stronger than at sea level, so apply sunscreen (SPF 30+) liberally and frequently so you won’t burn. Apply at least 20 minutes before going out in the sun. Good sunglasses are essential for protecting your eyes from the UV rays. Brimmed hats shade your scalp and face, and your ears.
  • Stay hydrated – Estes Park water is clean and pure and tastes great! Fill up a BMF-free water bottle and make it a habit to sip from it all day.
  • Lube up – The sun is intense in the Rockies so apply sunscreen frequently. Don’t forget the lip balm.
  • Wear layers of clothing – In the summer, we recommend layers of thin, high-tech clothing that wick moisture away from your skin. For winter, wear warm layers of wicking cloth and water-resistant outer layers made from breathable fabric. And remember, there is no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.
  • Bring extra clothing – No matter the season, it snows somewhere in Colorado every month, so always carry a jacket, gloves and an extra pair of socks in your pack when hiking.
  • Watch the weather – Summer storms roll into the mountains most afternoons, so reach your destination early and get off the mountain before lightning strikes.
  • Don’t drink the water out of mountain streams – Giardia from animal poo can cause debilitating diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Understand altitude sickness – Altitude sickness often means dizziness, nausea, rapid heartbeat and shortness of breath. Drink plenty of fluids and rest. Avoid alcohol and cigarettes.
  • Be smart – Any activity in the mountains involves risk. You must be self-reliant. Be realistic about your physical abilities, know your limits, and use common sense. Have the proper clothing, water, map, equipment, and food. Most importantly, don’t be a loner. Do backcountry activities as a group, best with a local guide. If you do venture out alone, let a responsible person know where you are going and when you have returned.
  • Hands off! – It is illegal to pick wildflowers in Colorado.

Stay Safe in the High Country

Backpacking in the high country is an exhilarating experience, but it has many dangers. Follow these instructions to stay safe:

  • Tell a reliable person where you are going and when you expect to return. Hike with a buddy.
  • Cell phones do not always work in the mountains. GPS will not work in dense forests or deep canyons. Modern technology will never replace maps, compasses and good old common sense.
  • Carry extra food and at least two quarts of water.
  • Always check the weather and snow conditions before heading out. It can snow somewhere in Colorado every month of the year. Be prepared in case you are driving or playing in that “somewhere.” Weather can change quickly, so always carry a warming layer and rain jacket or shell.

Safety Guidelines for Kids

The mountains are a natural playground for kids. Keep them safe with these simple guidelines:

  • Water – Kids need to drink plenty of water while on the trail.
  • Snacks – And don’t forget the healthy snack or energy bar to keep their energy level up.
  • Sunscreen – Reapply sunscreen every three hours. Sunburns occur even on cloudy days.
  • Warmth – Keep kids warm while they play in the snow. Dress your child in long underwear, water-resistant pants, a light fleece, waterproof jacket and warm mittens.

And most importantly, pick up an Estes Park Vacationland when you arrive in town. This free guidebook will guide you on what to wear, what to eat and drink, and where to go.A