Packing for your Colorado Vacation
Colorado is the highest state in America. Denver rests at 5,280 feet, and many mountain towns sit above 9,000. At these lofty heights, the sun is stronger and the air thinner, but the adventure that much more exciting. To play in this high altitude state, though, it's best to prepare before you visit, especially in winter.
Although Colorado's ski and snowboard resorts are known for their light, fluffy powder and blue-sky days, the sun, snowstorms and wind can take a toll on your body. Do your nose and other extremities a favor, get smart about mountain wear. Here are some suggestions for what to pack on your winter excursion to Colorado:
Hat. Whether you're on the slopes or just walking around in town, bring a hat for two reasons: 1) Like you learned in grade school, you lose most of your body heat through your head; 2) A brimmed hat will do wonders to deflect harmful rays from easily burned extremities like your nose and cheeks.
Sunscreen. Colorado doesn't have many gray, overcast days, unless there's a snowstorm blowing in. The sun shines all winter. With that in mind, pack - and slather on generously - the heavy-duty sunscreen (at least SPF 25), and make sure it's the UVB/UVA-blocking kind.
Eyewear. On the same note, bring sunglasses/goggles with good UVA- and UVB-blocking capability. Read the label before you buy. If you've ever had your eyes burned by the sun or by the ray's tricky reflection off the snow, you'll never leave home without these trusty companions. Ski goggles will also protect your eyes from the wind, chilly temperatures and snow when you take that first faceplant.
Water-wickers. If you're going to be out on the slopes or doing something athletic, make sure you invest in a water-wicking base layer - not cotton. Movement fabrics that were once considered high-tech are today commonplace and reasonably priced. Any major outdoor store will have these polypropylene-based undergarments that absorb sweat and wick it away from your skin.
Other mountain safety tips:
- Drink plenty of water. In high altitudes your body needs, but doesn't always crave, more liquids. Hydrating is especially important when you're losing additional moisture by sweating. Drinking lots of water can also help prevent altitude sickness - symptoms range from headache to nausea - which visitors sometimes experience.
- Don't count on the forecast. Weather changes very quickly in Colorado. Don't try to outsmart nature - you'll seldom win. Always pack for varied elements and learn the rules of mountain travel.
- Bring a map. With lots of rural areas, high mountain passes and a web of dirt roads without gas stations, Colorado can be a challenging place to drive anytime of the year. But in winter weather, roads can become even trickier. Make sure you or your driver is a good route-finder, that you have a map and that if possible you stock your car with emergency items like a blanket, extra fuel and a cell phone. Consider taking shuttles to your mountain destinations.