Often people coming from the "flatlands" are concerned about the possibility of altitude sickness when they visit the Rockies. Estes Park is only at 7,500 feet and therefore is not as risky as other areas above 8,000 feet for people whose systems are not used to living at this altitude. Nevetheless, anyone, even those who live at higher altitudes, should be aware of the symptoms and what they can do to prevent problems.
The higher you climb above sea level, the less oxygen there is in the air. The oxygen level becomes very low at altitudes above 8,000 feet. This causes problems for people who normally live at lower altitudes because their bodies aren't used to working on so little oxygen. If you stay at a high altitude for a long time, your body gets used to the low oxygen level, and you don't get sick from it.
Some of the first signs of high-altitude illness are headache, lightheadedness, trouble sleeping and an upset stomach. If you have these symptoms, stop going up or go back down to a lower altitude until your symptoms go away. More severe symptoms include difficulty breathing even while you're resting, coughing, confusion and the inability to walk in a straight line. If you get these symptoms, go to a lower altitude right away and get help from a doctor.
The most important thing you can do to prevent symptoms is to drink a lot of water, more than 64 oz. a day minimum. Colorado is not only a high altitude state, but a very dry one as well. Also, limit or avoid alcohol and fatty foods. Get plenty of rest in your first few days. Don't ignore serious symptoms; descend to a lower altitude immediately if you have a persistant headache or nausea.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to Colorado every year, particularly for skiing at higher altitudes than Estes Park. The vast majority have no difficulty adjusting, even while participating in rigorous activities like skiing and drinking! A little common sense will go a long way in insuring that your visit to the top of the Rockies will be problem-free!
Yes, that's pure Rocky Mountain Spring Water flowing down that creek or river in the mountains. But don't drink it! It could contain bacteria that you want nothing to do with. Just upstream from where you drink, there could be a dead animal lying in the water. think about that!
It is unlikely, but it has happened. In the event of heavy rains, the Big Thompson Canyon has flooded, and in September of 2013, Estes Park itself flooded.
All photos in this section were taken by a friend of mine who is an Estes Park resident. I was not in Estes at the time this flooding took place.
The elk may cross whenever they feel like it so be on your guard. These animals are huge, as big as a horse, and they can really do some damage on your car.