Occasionally, we hear from folks who love the idea of visiting a Colorado dude ranch, but worry that they’ll be affected by the elevation. Usually, it’s because they have had a friend or relative who experienced discomfort at altitude, and assume they’ll automatically be out of breath from the moment they enter our state.
How worried should you be about the altitude in Colorado affecting you or your family during your dude ranch vacation?
Let’s start by acknowledging that the effects of altitude on the body are definitely real… but at the same time, can be easily managed. Unless you have a specific medical condition that prevents you from visiting higher elevations, you can probably bypass any ill effects by following a few simple tips…
Drink Plenty of Water
The very best way to stave off the effects of altitude sickness is to simply drink lots of water. When your body is well-hydrated you don’t experience the effects of altitude as severely. And, of course, drinking plenty of water is a healthy habit that goes well with our many outdoor activities. So, keep a water bottle nearby at all times, especially during the first few days of your vacation, and you’ll probably feel better than you have in months!
In terms of elevation, our Colorado dude ranches range from 5,280 feet above sea level all the way up to 9,200 feet. That’s a big spread when you’re considering the amount of oxygen available. If you have concerns about altitude, let us know and we can recommend ways to prep ahead of time to minimize effects. Also, we recommend you book a longer stay if you’re going to stay at a higher elevation. The first few days are typically when people could potentially experience altitude sickness (if they do at all). A week-long stay ensures you have plenty of time for your body to adjust!
Take Time to Adjust
Although it can be tempting to jump straight into all the fun activities we have on our guest ranches, it might be a good idea to take the first day to take it easy and acclimate to the elevation. That’s particularly true if you’re coming from an area that’s near sea level, or have traveled a significant distance. Giving your body a chance to rest (and build up those healthy red blood cells) can lead to a healthier, more relaxing vacation.
Most of Colorado dude ranch guests will tell you they don’t notice the elevation at all unless they try to do something especially strenuous. Then, for just a moment, they might feel out of breath. While we have all kinds of adventure activities – from horseback riding to hiking, whitewater rafting, and even zip lining – most activities are not overly strenuous in our lower oxygen atmosphere. You’re on vacation, so pace yourself and enjoy it. That goes for alcohol as well. Dehydration is a primary factor of altitude sickness, so ‘pace yourself’ when it comes to alcohol and your body will thank you for it the rest of your trip.
While all of our guests claim to enjoy the sweeping views and crisp mountain air that comes with visiting a Colorado dude ranch, very few of them are negatively affected by the elevation if taking they’ve followed the ‘best practices’ advice above. Pace yourself and let your body adjust – while being sure to drink plenty of water – and you’ll likely find that altitude will be an afterthought to all the adventure.