It’s Different Up Here!
Thank you for visiting historic Cripple Creek, Colorado. There are a lot of sights to see here and areas to explore, but you need to be prepared for the variables that come with being at such a high altitude.
Driving the Mountain Roads
If you’re not used to driving on winding mountain roads and you’re white-knuckling it, it’s okay to take it slow, but be courteous and use the numerous pull-offs to allow others, who drive these roads on a regular basis, the opportunity to move along at a faster pace.
As you come to the city of Cripple Creek on Highway 67, the road becomes very steep. Rather than riding your brakes all the way down, shift to a lower gear, (and yes you can do that in a vehicle with an automatic transmission), you will save your brakes and be able to go slowly down the incline.
Cell Phone Reception
Cell phone signals will be sporadic as you go up in elevation and even once you arrive; some cell phone carriers do not have good reception here.
Cripple Creek is nine thousand four hundred ninety four feet (9,494) above sea level. What does that mean for you? If you’re not used to being at a high elevation: altitude sickness, also known as “mountain sickness.” (So the ”windy, white knuckle, no guardrails, sheer drop-offs” ride up the mountain may not be the only thing making you queasy.) The onset of the illness can occur anywhere from 8 to 96 hours after arrival at altitudes over 8,000 feet. Headache is the most common symptom but other indications include nausea, vomiting, fatigue and sleep disturbances.
The best way to prevent acute altitude sickness is to ascend slowly, (over a period of several days), to higher altitudes. Although as residents of Cripple Creek, we know that most people zip up the mountain without really thinking about it. Most people do okay, but even those in the best physical condition will feel its effects in some way. Limiting physical activity for the first few days may help. Acute altitude sickness is usually not a serious condition, and it resolves on its own with rest and over-the-counter pain medicines, (aspirin, acetaminophen, ibuprofen). Maintaining adequate hydration may also help reduce the symptoms of acute altitude sickness. If the condition becomes unusually severe, descent to a lower altitude is recommended.
As local residents, whenever we have relatives coming to visit from lower elevations, we always tell them to drink lots of water. Somehow it helps combat/prevent adverse reactions, such as headaches, to being at this elevation. Plus, the air is very dry here; our average humidity is normally below 10%.
Whether you’re visiting in the summer or winter, the weather can change in a blink of an eye so be prepared with a change of clothing, (jacket, raincoat, closed toe shoes, socks, etc.) and consider where you’ll go if you need shelter.
In the spring and summer, our mornings are usually warm and sunny. As the day progresses we may see the skies darken as thunderstorms roll in with flashes of lightening, accompanied by hail and/or rain. Sometimes there will even be a short snow flurry. They usually don’t last very long, but can be violent and drop the temperatures significantly. Even on the Fourth of July while trying to enjoy the fireworks display, you can often see your breath. Yes, it gets that cold!
Fall and winter can bring quick squalls of snow and a rapid drop in temperatures.
Save Your Skin
No matter the time of year, remember to apply and re-apply sunscreen. The thin air here in the mountains allows the sun’s rays to do more damage in a shorter period of time than at lower elevations.
Breathe in The Mountain Air
It’s clear and fresh and just what your body needs. Unfortunately for those of you visiting for a short period of time, your body will not have a chance to increase the oxygen level of your red blood cells, which will leave you more exhausted than you’d be at a lower elevation. You’ll need to slow your pace, stroll instead of power walk, or you’ll find yourself stopping quite often to catch your breath. Slow down and enjoy your visit!
Adult Beverage Consumption
If you consume adult beverages while at this altitude, you will discover that it takes fewer drinks to feel its effects. You may want to consider curbing the amount of alcohol you drink while in the mountains and drink plenty of water to offset the possibility of dehydration.
We hope you enjoy your visit and come back again!
If you need medical care, there is an urgent care clinic open Monday through Friday on Teller 1 next to Venture Foods, (1101 County Road 1, Cripple Creek CO 719-776-4300). EMT’s are also available anytime at the fire station (147 E Bennett Ave) (719) 689-0240), or you can call 911 and our highly trained first responders will assist you immediately.
Do you have high altitude advice? Please share in the comments.
Subscribe to Our Newsletter