Estes Park/ altitude adjustment


Apr 20th, 2006, 04:37 PM
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Estes Park/ altitude adjustment

We will begin our two weeks in Colorado in September with four nights in Estes Park. We are both "over 60", reasonably healthy. We live at sea level. We are wondering if we should spend our first night in Boulder, instead of in Estes Park to allow our bodies to adjust to the altitude? If this is really not necessary, we want to just head directly from Denver airport to Estes Park. Also, can fellow travelers please suggest the most direct driving route from Denver airport to Estes Park? For our first day we hope to avoid steep, narrow roads with drop-offs and no guardrails. Thanks.
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Apr 20th, 2006, 05:06 PM
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I have had no trouble with Estes Park and altitude sickness. I had problems with Vail this winter. I was sick the whole trip... it started one day after I arrived. Seemed to be the case with most of the people who got it on the trip. We all felt fine the first day and we are all between 25-45 yrs old.
I have never had altitude sickness before and felt I was 'immune' at this altitude but NOOOOO. It sucked. Some of our group had a doctor visit who gave them oxygen and medication for sleeping.
The road to Estes Park from Boulder is not scary at all, even when it is snowing.
TxTravelPro is offline  
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Apr 20th, 2006, 05:26 PM
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No, just go right to Estes; take the tollway, 470,north to I-25 north and head west on 34 from the Loveland exit. You could also take 36 through Boulder and Lyons, but that is less direct, much more twisty-turny, and has more traffic and traffic lights.
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Apr 20th, 2006, 05:44 PM
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Hmmmm...I lived in Denver for nearly 10 years and now live in Sonoma County, CA
at sea level. After the first year away from Denver, I definitely noticed
that it took me some time to acclimate whenever I would visit Denver. I would tire easily and feel sleepy for the first 2-3 days. So take it easy. Alcohol is a
no-no for me during that time as well.
(The same thing happens to me when I go to Tahoe)
Of interest was that when I spent the day skiing at 10,000 ft. and slept
at the base (say 8,000 ft.) I didn't sleep as well during the ski trip as I did when I returned to Denver.


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Apr 20th, 2006, 08:24 PM
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I recommend a night in Boulder.
Estes Park is just high enough to be a little bothersome.

We camped in RCMP at about 9,000 feet with no adjustment, and we really felt it.

It is ok to go higher, just go down to sleep. Sir Edmund Hillary has been quoted as saying never spend a night more than 2,000 feet higher than your previous night. I think he was referring to higher altitudes, like 10,000 feet and up.

But even people in prime condition need a period of time to adjust to the thinner air.

I have done some high hiking/climbing in the Rockies, up to a max of 14,420 on Mount Harvard, and even though I had been higher than 8,000 feet for 10 days, the last hour or so of that uphill struggle are most memorable.

bob_brown is offline  
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Apr 21st, 2006, 06:43 AM
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my poor brother was terribly sick in estes park. he was only 11, and was skinny as could be. always had respiratory problems. he was stuck in the hotel room the whole time, and had to get oxygen at one point. he bounced back pretty swiftly though on the drive to denver.
otto is offline  
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Apr 21st, 2006, 09:43 AM
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Estes is only at 7,500 feet, which is not nearly as high as many ski areas in the state. Plenty of "flatlanders" go right to Breckenridge or Vail and get right on the slopes without any difficulty or intermediate stop. There are common sense precautions you can take to mitigate any discomfort like headache or fatigue you might experience if you went directly to Estes. You can't drink enough water! Keep a bottle handy at all times en route! Limit your activity for the first day at least, and limit alcohol. If you do experience symptoms like severe headache or nausea, drive to a lower altitude (like Loveland). After your first overnight in Estes, you should be just fine to drive to the incredibly scenic areas on Trail Ridge Road.
tekwriter is offline  
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Apr 21st, 2006, 10:13 AM
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I've noticed that the older I get, the more time I need for my body to adjust to the higher altitudes.

utahtea is offline  
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Apr 24th, 2006, 01:11 PM
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Why chance it? I would stay the night in Boulder. Attitude sickness will absolutely ruin your vacation. My ex-husband was in great shape and even in his 20s always would get altitiude sickness for the first three days we would be in Aspen. The altitudes of about 5000 feet are easy to take, 7000 plus take a little time, especially coming from sea level.

I agree with Bob on sleeping at a lower altitude. My husband was fine during the day in Breckendridge but had trouble breathing at night the first couple of nights.

Drink tons of bottled water and do not drink alcohol the first couple of days. The water will help immensely.
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Apr 24th, 2006, 08:26 PM
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I might add that if you are borderline high blood pressure, the quick change can be a problem.

Usually altitude related problems start about 7,500 feet but that varies with the person and his/her overall oxygen absorption capacity.

When we went to Rocky Mountain NP the first time, we had stayed the previous night in Colorado Springs at about 6,000 feet. The camp area was at 9,000 feet and we all felt it. I was 32 at the time.
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Apr 24th, 2006, 09:09 PM
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I live at 9,400 feet. You never can tell who will be affected. I really don't think a night in Boulder is going to make a big difference. The main thing is not to try climbing any mountains the first day. Even a flight of stairs may surprise you. Drink lots of water, avoid alcohol, use lots of sunscreen, and take asprin for that altitude headache. Also, you might find the air very dry. If your hotel has a humidifier, use it.
Catbert is offline  
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Jun 14th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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Drove from sea level in Delaware to Estes Park. Had a heck a time with the altitude, my husband especially, he's 52.
I was short of breath and pretty much had insomnia for the first 3 nights, but my husband was actually sick, pounding headaches, nausea and we did our altitude homework and skipped alcohol and drank LOTS of water... Still suffered. Don't do what we did and think that after one day that maybe you could at least just drive into RMNP and take the short Bear Lake hike.... my husband kept thinking there was really something wrong with him, when it was only the altitude....
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