Located in the Sierra Nevadas, South Lake Tahoe is at an altitude of about 6,237 feet. Popular areas around Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, including Heavenly Mountain Resort, reach altitudes of 10,000 feet or more. To put this in perspective, major cities, such as New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago are all significantly lower, with altitudes of approximately 33 feet, 285 feet, and 594 feet, respectively. Even Denver, known as the “Mile-High City,” only has an altitude of approximately 5,280 feet. Altitude impacts everyone a little bit differently, but generally “high altitude” is considered to be around 8,000 feet or more according to medical professionals.
All of that being said, it’s important to be prepared when visiting an area with significantly higher altitudes than you’re used to. The air is thinner, which takes some time to adjust to. Prevention is the best way to avoid altitude or mountain sickness, so here are a few tips to help you adjust to higher altitudes in Lake Tahoe.
- Drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is the best way to help your body adjust to higher altitudes. At least 3-4 quarts of water per day is recommended. You should also be increasing your water intake for a few weeks before leaving on your trip to make sure you’re fully hydrated from the get-go.
- Reduce physical activity. Skiing, biking, and hiking around Lake Tahoe is a blast, but it’s important not to do too much too quickly. Let your body adjust first. The effects of exercise are often more intense in higher altitudes.
- Monitor alcohol consumption. While we’re all about enjoying Happy Hour and having a good time, keep in mind that the effects of alcohol can also be more intense in a high elevation area. It also hinders the acclimation process. Avoiding tobacco, sleeping pills, and other depressant drugs is also recommended.
- Eat foods that are high in carbohydrates. Experts recommend at least 70% of your calories come from carbs when in a high altitude area. Your body burns them faster in high altitudes, so you need more of them. Our breakfast buffet, which is included in every reservation, is always loaded with tasty carbs like our homemade oatmeal, pancakes, french toast and more, to help our guests start their day! Other good sources of carbs include bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, and fruit.
- Eat iron-rich foods before traveling. If your iron levels are low, you may feel more fatigued in higher elevation areas. Foods like spinach, beef, eggs, lentils, and eggs are generally rich in iron and good to eat before and during your Lake Tahoe vacation.
Some slight headaches, fatigue, or nausea at first is fairly common when going above 8,000 feet, but your body will naturally adjust. By monitoring your activity levels, nutrition, and water intake throughout your trip, and ascending slowly if you’re doing a multi-day climb or hike experience in high altitudes, you should be fine. Don’t let fear hold you back. Trust us, there’s a reason people live in and travel to high altitude mountainous areas like Lake Tahoe. You won’t want to miss out on seeing these views.