Thin Air but Good Hair – coping with high altitudes

Colorado road trip.

The high altitude air in Keystone, Colorado was thin but also very dry – great for my wild, curly hair.

But that same air that’s so great for hair takes its toll on the rest of the body. I felt it a bit when I went to Park City, Utah in 2010 but at 11,000 feet in Keystone, Colorado, I couldn’t move without feeling some effect of the altitude.

Altitude Sickness is Not Fun.

Altitude sickness can involves severe headaches, dizziness, trouble sleeping, nose bleeds, feeling tired or nauseated and loss of appetite. For those starting at sea level, these symptoms can be felt at just a couple of thousand feet. Most people will feel some effect at 5,000 feet and higher.

Advice on Coping with High Altitudes.

  1. Go up slowly. If you can, arrive at your high altitude destination in stages so that your body has a chance to adjust before you get there.
  2. Plan light activities at the beginning, again, to give your body a chance to adjust.
  3. Humidify your hotel room. Use a humidifier or fill a bath with steaming hot water. Do anything to get some humidity in the air.
  4. Eat light meals. Digestion takes energy which takes oxygen. If the oxygen is going to your stomach to aid digestion, your brain will miss it.
  5. Avoid alcohol. Your blood, deprived of oxygen, will respond to alcohol much more quickly than at sea level.
  6. Get a can of oxygen (usually available in tourist places that are at a high altitude) to give yourself a shot if necessary.

High altitudes offer wonderful views, great hiking, fabulous skiing and more. Learning how to cope with high altitudes is well worth it.

Colorado lake

Mountain lakes…


…and mountain sunsets.

  • David C. Maness

    Thank you, thank you, Janice for saying “nauseated” instead of “nauseous.”

  • faith

    Good tips! Drink plenty of water and use a nasal spray to prevent the nose bleeds.

  • Britney Muller

    Great tips Solo Traveler! Always staying hydrated is another big one. I’ve found it helps to drink lots of water and light exercise. Thanks so much for the great post!

  • Mellisa Turner

    Altitude sickness is not at all fun and the biggest myth that people
    have is that people already living at high altitudes will not suffer
    from this sickness when move bit further up,Thanks for posting the ways
    to cope up with this sickness. Very informative!

  • Stephanie

    I was born and raised at sea level then went to college in Colorado at about 4500 feet and never did notice a difference. The air was dry, but air everywhere feels dry to me since I grew up withing 10 miles of the Pacific ocean. So I say be aware of altitude sickness issues and pay attention to how you’re feeling but don’t let fear of altitude sickness stop you from going someplace high up- you might not be affected much at all and could have a great trip!

  • Tracy Antonioli

    Not so funny story–I was hiking solo in the high sierras in yosemite (around 10,000 feet) and was SO winded. And it took me way too long to figure out why–at which point I decided the particular hike I’d chosen was not the best plan (very vertical and very long) and turned around. Ooops.

  • Peggy Collins

    Also, drink a lot of water.