Effects of altitude

Altitude sickness is something that visitors to Colorado commonly experience, and it can affect a traveler's sense of well-being quite profoundly. It's common for travelers to comment that they love the beauty of the state, but oh how they hate what the altitude does to them. In addition to making one feel dizzy or full of nausea, the lack of moisture in the air can cause your hair, skin and eyes to become uncomfortably dry, and may cause chronic nosebleeds. A feeling of breathlessness, especially when exercising, is also commonly reported.  However, these symptoms may or may not be medically classified as altitude sickness, or AMS.

Websites addressing the topic of AMS report that visiting elevations below about 2500 m (8000 ft) will rarely cause symptoms. However, individuals can vary greatly in their reaction to even minor changes in altitude, depending on what altitude his or her body is currently acclimated to, sensitivity to his or her environment, and other medical conditions.

The official diagnosis of AMS is made when a headache, with any one or more of the following symptoms is present after a recent ascent above 2500 meters (8000 feet):

  - Loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting
  - Fatigue or weakness
  - Dizziness or light-headedness
  - Difficulty sleeping

Suggested Reading:

International Society for Mountain Medicine (Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS))
Wikipedia (Altitude Sickness)

Selected Elevations in Colorado:

  Source (Click for more cities)

(* = Denver Metro Area)
(in Feet)
Leadville 10,152
Monarch 10,125
Fairplay 9,950
Copper Mountain 9,720
Breckenridge 9,602
Cripple Creek 9,508
Silverton 9,305
Keystone 9,166
Silver Creek 9,120
Silver Plume 9,100
Snowmass Village 9,100
Dillon 9,087
Frisco 9,042
Winter Park 9,040
Crested Butte 8,908
Telluride 8,792
Silverthorne 8,751
Fraser 8,574
Georgetown 8,512
Central City 8,496
Vail 8,380
Nederland 8,233
Powderhorn 8,080
Black Hawk 8,056
Buena Vista 7,955
Granby 7,939
Aspen 7,907
Ouray 7,811
Gunnison 7,703
Hot Sulphur Springs 7,680
Idaho Springs 7,524
Estes Park 7,522
Poncha Springs 7,465
Avon 7,430
Beaver Creek 7,400
Pagosa Springs 7,105
Salida 7,080
Evergreen 7,040
Monument 6,961
Mesa Verde National Park 6,960
Steamboat Springs 6,728
Elbert 6,720
Eagle 6,600
Durango 6,523
Manitou Springs 6,320
Castle Rock 6,210
Walsenburg 6,182
Colorado Springs 6,008
Dinosaur 5,858
Glenwood Springs 5,763
Golden* 5,674
Lakewood* 5,450
Aurora* 5,435
Wheat Ridge* 5,410
Broomfield* 5,400
Littleton* 5,389
Englewood* 5,369
Limon 5,365
Lyons 5,362
Boulder* 5,344
Arvada* 5,340
Louisville* 5,337
Westminster* 5,300
Denver 5,280
Lafayette* 5,236
Fort Collins 5,003
Loveland 4,982
Longmont 4,942
Greeley 4,664
Pueblo 4,662
Grand Junction 4,597
Fruita 4,503
Fort Morgan 4,324
La Junta 4,066
Lamar 3,622