What to Pack for a Visit to Colorado

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PHOTO: Above Timberline Falls/Steven Bratman

The Centennial State is full of majestic vistas, namely the Rocky Mountains due just west of Denver. As the city prepares for free-thinkers and curiosity seekers during the week leading up to April 20th, please remember that the Mile High City isn’t just called that because cannabis laws are more flexible here than in most states. The altitude ranges from 5,130 feet to 5,690 ft. in Denver and gets progressively higher especially if you want to explore or hike the mountains. Mount Elbert, the highest peak in the state, measures at about 14,440 ft.

We’ve asked some locals for their advice on what to pack and what to buy once you get here to make your trip much more comfortable so you can celebrate fully with us*:

You need to stay hydrated.

Hydration is key.
Photo: Pixabay

Days before you arrive, catch up on your water intake. It’s high desert country you’re visiting and as such, the air is thin and dry. When you arrive, make sure you are loaded up with water as well. Stop by a grocery store and buy a case of H2O if you’ve not got your own carrier for it. You will thank us for this advice especially when you awaken at four in the morning with a throat so dry it feels like it’s twisted and cracked. A good rule to remember: drink twice as much water here as you would at around sea level. Stay hydrated and you’ll have a better time.

Many people we spoke to highly recommend coconut oil for skin and lips but that can be hard to pack and keep from getting runny if varying temperatures melt the oil. Some of our writers prefer Zambeezi Organic African Lip Balm, or Dr. Bronner’s Naked Body Balm (safe to use on skin, lips and face). Just use something or your smile will look like a cracked, flour-dusted, blood-crusted grimace. Trust us on this one. Don’t lose your lip balm and if you do, immediately find a replacement and apply generously and often. Some travelers come with a personal humidifier but we know of one writer who used a clothes steamer at night that had auto-shut off that she started again when she woke up coughing from the dryness.

The sun is ever-present in Colorado. With about 300+ days of sun, you’re going to need a hat with a reasonable brim, sunglasses and SPF. It’s so bright here, you gotta wear shades. Or squint excessively, develop a migraine and some wrinkly mementos — your choice!

It’s Spring and as such, Colorado swings from wintry to spring-like sometimes within a few hours and definitely from morning into evening. On 4/20, it will be really nice with temps projected in the high 60s range but days earlier when many people will be arriving for earlier kick-off celebrations, there will be light rain and colder temps. It’s a good idea to pack some layers like a light waterproof winter jacket, scarf, a sweater or two, tank tops, long socks, waterproof shoes or boots and gloves just to have most bases covered. It might behoove you to bring a compact umbrella to keep from getting wet or sunburned.

Not everyone who visits Colorado needs extra oxygen and some don’t struggle with the thinner air at all. However, if you do find yourself struggling, Target sells canisters of flavored oxygen as do most sporting goods stores in the area. If you’re coming from Denver and take a jaunt to the mountains and have never done so before, be prepared. One of our writers nearly passed out while driving when she was unaware that the altitude shifts would affect her. Some symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath and sleep disturbance. Also keep in mind to take it physically slow while here until your body becomes acclimated to the altitude. If you are a runner and start your day jogging a few miles, try to curtail your usual distance by two-thirds until you get a better idea of what your body can handle.

Not sure if this works or not but we’re told that eating small meals with carbs and avoiding alcohol and caffeine can also help a person adjust to higher altitudes. A few Ladybud-ers can attest that while one cocktail seems pretty harmless at sea level, it feels like 3 drinks a mile above that  and 2 drinks feels like 6.  We’re good at math. As for caffeine, we sometimes need it to feel more awake in not only a different time zone but  in thinner air but this is not a good idea as caffeine can act as a diuretic and if drinking water is helpful, having speedy drinks might not be. Also, if you can, try to take a few short naps or lay down for 10-15 minutes each day. It will help.

*These are not suggestions coming from a medical professional and should not be taken as such. These are for informal and entertainment purposes only. Travel safe and enjoy colorful Colorado!