High Altitude Health Tips
Protect Yourself From High Elevation Risks
Elevations in the Upper Arkansas River Valley vary from over 7,000 feet
in Salida to 8,000 feet in Buena Vista and over 14,000 feet on many of
the area's mountain peaks! The higher the altitude, the less oxygen
there is in the air. Some people have negative and dangerous reactions
to this decrease in oxygen and may require medical attention.
Higher elevations put you at greater risk for:
- Lightning strikes - While still rare, your chances of being struck by lightning
increase the further up you go. Avoid trees, water, open spaces, and metal
objects if stuck outside during a storm.
- Sunburn - Atmosphere protection decreases at higher altitudes. Be sure
to wear plenty of sunscreen (especially infants and young children). Apply
liberally at least every two hours.
- Altitude sickness - When hiking the Arkansas River Valley’s mountain
peaks, some people start to get dizzy from the decrease of oxygen. This
is a symptom of altitude sickness and could result in fainting. Do not
hike alone and make sure you have plenty of safe space in case you fall.
- Dehydration - Dry air and lower oxygen in high mountain areas make it easier
to become dehydrated. Keep plenty of water on you and avoid drinking unfiltered
water from lakes, creeks, or streams.
- Giardia - Clear lakes and rivers at high altitudes may look safe to drink,
but may be infested by a parasite known as Giardia Lamblia. Do not drink
water from lakes or rivers without boiling and filtering it first.
- Hypothermia - The higher you go, the colder it gets, and the water gets
even colder. If you fall into a cold river or stream, remove your wet
clothes immediately and change into something warm (if available) to avoid
Click here to download our "High Altitude Health Tips" brochure and familiarize
yourself with altitude sickness, dehydration, giardia, hypothermia, lightning
risk and sunburn.