If you’re planning a winter or spring trip to Frisco, Colorado and the surrounding area, you are probably thinking about things like this:
Whether to Fly or Drive
Where to Stay
Whether You Need a Rental Car
Where to go Skiing/Snowboarding
Signing up for Lessons
How to Rent Equipment
What Other Snow Activities to Try
Where to Get a Good Cup of Coffee
Where to Eat
Things to Do With Small Children
Activities for Non-skiers
Those are all very important decisions! But for now, I want to talk about something that many people don’t even consider:
That is the elevation in the town of Frisco. And up in the mountains, obviously, the elevation is even higher. If you’re accustomed to living at a lower altitude—which most people are—you’ll want to be sure to plan your schedule so that your body has a chance to acclimate. Otherwise, your body might just decide you’re not going to be doing any activities at all, but rather lying in bed—or worse, the hospital.
There is no way to predict exactly how much the change in altitude will affect you, if at all. Some people have more difficulty adjusting to high altitude than others, and in fact even the same person can have a completely different experience from one visit to the next. All sorts of factors could contribute to your reaction to the altitude at any given time. Maybe you were fighting a cold before you left, or had been a little worn down, or got dehydrated. The main thing is to take steps to make the adjustment as easy as possible.
Here are a few tips:
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to feel better while your body adjusts. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Your body will lose more water and sodium than usual as you are getting acclimated to a high altitude. Also the air is very dry here, which can also contribute to dehydration. Drink a lot of water before you leave on your trip, along the way, and after you arrive. How much extra water should you drink? There’s no magic number, but basically however much water you think you need, drink more!
Can you drink some of Colorado’s wonderful craft beers as part of your hydration plan? Sorry, but you’ll want to drink LESS alcohol than normal while visiting the mountains. Alcohol will dehydrate you, and you’ll probably find that it affects you more quickly than normal as well. Try drinking a glass of water (or better yet, two) for every alcoholic drink.
Don’t Over-exert Yourself
You probably want to maximize your time by jumping right into a day of full-on skiing, but if you’re able to take it a little easier the first day or two, it will give your body a chance to adjust to functioning with less oxygen. Some people who fly in from low-lying states even spend a day or two in Denver (5,280’) to help ease the transition. There are plenty of fun things to do in Denver, too.
Just keep in mind that whatever you’re normally capable of, fitness-wise, might not be the case at 9,000 feet. If you’re a runner, you might not be able to run for as long. Even if you exercise regularly, you might feel winded by a flight of stairs. If you never exercise, you might feel winded simply by standing still. So, be realistic about your expectations and take it easy if you need to!
I understand that this is a very challenging request, but I’m going to say it anyway: Try to ensure that you’re caught up on sleep before leaving on a trip to a higher altitude. We often push ourselves and rush around to finish work-related tasks before taking off on a vacation. But if you’re coming to the mountains, try to make it a priority to get your rest in advance. The acclimatization process can leave you feeling tired and sluggish, so give yourself a head start by making sure you’re well-rested when you arrive.
Once you’re here, it can be tempting to go-go-go and try to fit in as much as possible. There is SO much to do here in Summit County. But, Frisco is also a wonderful place to relax! Many of the people who come into my gift shop are just wandering around, exploring, shopping, eating, drinking, getting a massage, checking out the historic park. Sometimes on vacations it’s hard to balance doing things with relaxing. You only have so much time! I get it. But the altitude adjustment is a good excuse to fit some resting time in amidst the activities. Or, if you’re the type of traveler who mostly just likes to take time off and relax, you can enjoy sweeping mountain views, along with sunshine and/or fresh snow, right on Frisco’s Main Street.