If you are like many people, your daily life exists on an altitude much lower than those of the National Parks in the Southwest.

 

It normally isn’t too much of an issue on our tours, however sometimes the most challenging part can be the hiking. You may feel like you are huffing and puffing way more than you normally would at home. It is simply because the oxygen is thinner at higher elevations and your body is not used to it.

Some other potential symptoms that you should watch for are:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Racing Heartbeat
  • Nausea
  • Tiredness/Difficulty Sleeping

The following chart shows the most commonly visited National Parks on our tours in order of highest elevation.

National Park

Elevation (ft)

Elevation (m)

Grand Teton

6,300 -13,770

1,920-4,200

Yellowstone

5,282-13,144

1,610-3,462

Grand Canyon

1,173-9,165

358-2,793

Bryce Canyon

6,565-9,115

2,001-2,778

Capitol Reef

3,877-8,960

1,182-2,730

Zion

3,640-8,726

1,110-2,660

Mesa Verde

6,015-8,571

1,833-2,612

Canyonlands

3,730-7,210

1,140-7,210

Arches

3,960-5,653

1,210-1,723

 

As you can see, these parks are at very high elevations!

Some of the top tips for dealing with elevation changes and potential altitude sickness are:

·         Take it Slow: Don’t push yourself, especially on the first day or tour of your time at a higher elevation. It’s OK to stop and take breaks when you feel you need to.

·         Remember to Breathe: This piece of advice goes hand in hand with taking it slow. Make sure that you are breathing fully because there is a lot less oxygen so high up. You will need a lot more oxygen to do a similar exercise that you are used to doing at home.

·         Stay Hydrated: Water is key in adjusting to different altitudes.  You will be losing water as you get used to the elevation changes which leads to dehydration. Drink more than you normally would. SWAT provides you with water on your tours, but if you are heading out on a self-drive tour, make sure to stock up on water before you do any physical activity and throughout your time at higher elevations.

·         Stay away from Alcohol: Since alcohol dehydrates you, this goes against drinking more water! It is also known to make you feel sicker at higher elevations, so it is best to stay away (for the first day or two at least, and drink a lot of water to counteract the effects).

·         Wear Sunscreen: Being up at higher elevations means you are closer to the sun and the harmful rays so make sure to wear lots of sunscreen! It’s also a lot dryer in the Southwest, so chapstick and moisturizer are key, so don’t forget to pack those with you!

What are your tips for battling the changes in altitude?

 

Please note: this information is only meant for a guide and does not replace the advice of doctors or other medical professionals.