Last Updated on December 23, 2023

When planning your getaway to Breckenridge, it’s crucial to factor in the high altitude of this picturesque region. With elevations ranging from 9,600 to 13,000 feet, Breckenridge presents unique challenges for visitors not accustomed to such heights.

As a resident of a sea-level island, I’ve learned to be vigilant and adhere to the following advice whenever I travel to Breckenridge, even though I make the journey 4-5 times a year. Altitude is a consideration I never underestimate.

To ensure an enjoyable and comfortable trip to Breckenridge, check out my tips below.

Gradually Acclimate to the Altitude

Give your body time to adjust to the thinner air at high altitude. If possible, arrive in Breckenridge a day or two before engaging in strenuous activities. Use this time to rest, relax, and allow your body to acclimate gradually. Take it easy during the first couple of days, especially if you are coming from a lower elevation.

If you’ve never experienced this kind of altitude, you might want to stay in the Denver area for a night before heading up to Breckenridge. Whether it’s older relatives, those with health issues, or simply family and friends who’ve never been at real elevation, I’ve always done the night in Denver and none of them have had issues once we arrived in Breckenridge.

Stay Hydrated

This point can’t be emphasized enough. Hydration is key at high altitudes. The dry mountain air can cause increased fluid loss through respiration and evaporation. Drink plenty of water throughout your trip, even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty.

I start drinking as much water as I can make myself consume the day before my trip and continue throughout the trip. Normally, I don’t like to drink a ton when I fly because I don’t want to have to get up from my window seat to go to the bathroom, but going to Colorado is an exception. I drink as much water as I can from the moment I wake up, chug in the airport and on the plane and then the whole drive up. When I don’t do this, I notice a big difference, so please take this point to heart.

You’ll also want to avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration. When I’m in Breckenridge, I can feel two glasses of wine in a way I never do at home, where I live at sea level on an island.

Take It Slow

When engaging in physical activities, such as hiking or biking, pace yourself and take breaks as needed. The lower oxygen levels at high altitudes can make physical exertion more challenging. Seriously, if you don’t live at a high elevation, be prepared to be out of breath from simply climbing a flight of stairs.

Listen to your body, and don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Enjoy the journey and the scenery at a comfortable pace.

Get Oxygen if You Need It

You’ll find bottles of oxygen sold all over town if you’re feeling poorly. This is often enough to help you get over the hump and enjoy the rest of your vacation.

You can also get oxygen treatments at places like The O2 Lounge on Main Street.

Dress Appropriately

Be prepared for fluctuating temperatures at high altitude. Layer your clothing to adjust to changing weather conditions. Even if the day starts off warm, temperatures can drop significantly as you gain elevation or as the day progresses.

I’m obsessed with this 3-in-1 LL Bean jacket, which I can use year-round in Breckenridge. Best money I’ve ever spent on outerwear!

In the summer and fall, I wear these boots for hiking, and in the winter these duck boots are perfect. This hat and backpack are always in my suitcase for Breckenridge too.

Protect Yourself from the Sun

At higher altitudes, the sun’s rays can be stronger and more intense. Apply sunscreen with a high SPF rating and wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes. Don’t forget to reapply sunscreen regularly, as the thinner air at high altitude can intensify the sun’s effects.

Be Mindful of Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), can affect some individuals when ascending to high altitudes. Symptoms may include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.

If you experience these symptoms, take it as a sign to rest and allow your body more time to adjust. If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention.

Consult with Your Healthcare Provider

If you have pre-existing medical conditions or concerns about high altitude, it’s advisable to consult with your healthcare provider before your trip. They can offer guidance specific to your needs and provide recommendations to ensure a safe experience. You can even get a prescription from your doctor to help lessen the effect of the altitude. My mother-in-law had to start taking these as she got older, and they’ve been a big help.

By being aware of the potential effects of high altitude and taking the necessary precautions, you can fully enjoy your time in Breckenridge while prioritizing your health and well-being.


  • Kristi Dosh

    Kristi Dosh (who also uses the pen name Savannah Carlisle) writes about travel, sports and craft beer. She is a current sports business contributor for Forbes and was previously ESPN's sports business reporter.

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