Visiting Colorado Tips and Tricks

by James Patrocky

The Hoffmans’ coming to Fairplay Co on Gold Rush will make that a popular  destination this summer. The purpose of this article is to help anyone visiting Colorado from out of state a bit of local knowledge.

Altitude and the human body

If you are visiting from a lower altitude, please read up on altitude sickness. It is a very real thing that happens going from sea level to 8000 to 10,000 ft. Even natives to Colorado can experience it. I live at 5300 ft above sea level and in the 45 min drive to my favorite spot I can be at 7800 ft. Altitude sickness can be as mild as a headache and be severe like the worst flu ever. Good news is there are somethings that may help.

  • Most Denver area sporting good stores carry canned oxygen, for 20 bucks I suggest picking one up (great on hangovers too if you don’t use it all on your trip)
  • If you have time to let your body adjust to the lower oxygen spend a few days at lower altitudes before heading to 10,000 feet.

Wives-tales that may help also:

  • Baby Aspirin, taken everyday at altitude
  • Vitamin B complex, I have used and it helps
  • Citrus Fruits everyday at this altitude
  • Caffeine, go for the triple shot at Starbucks

A few other notable issues at 7000+ ft are:

  • You are over a mile closer to the sun, bring sunblock even if you don’t burn at home. Chap stick or other lip balm with sunblock is almost a necessity.
  • Colorado is a high-dessert, it is dry here. Even the most masculine guy will get dry skin, bring lotion.
  • Drink lots of water
  • Plan on being fatigued much faster at this height, I have heard many guys say “I’m gonna run 50 buckets” and end up beat at 25 buckets.
  • If you drink alcohol at this altitude 1 beer will feel like 3 take it easy.

 Recreational Marijuana & Prospecting

Yes it is legal to partake. I have run across more than a dozen out of state prospectors and there seems to be some confusion on this:

  • You must be 21+ to partake
  • Public use is not allowed (house, car, camper only), no digging and smoking. Treat it like you would hard alcohol.
  • Smoking and driving is a DUI, Yes they have a test for it and it is enforced strictly.
  • Denver International airport is NOT considered part of Colorado, federal laws apply, do not take it to the airport.

Gas equipment and Altitude 

Small gas engines and even your vehicle will run differently at this altitude. For a short trip just bring an extra plug as your pump will be running much richer than normal.  Expect to lose 20% of your power at this altitude. If your gear is running full throttle at sea level to create suction, you may want to consider a high altitude carburetor kit prior to your trip. These kits contain smaller jets for your carb so they don’t run so rich.


Traffic on both I-70 (Breckenridge, Vail, Idaho springs) and Hwy 285 (Fairplay, South park, Alma) Both back up every Sunday. This is not a small back up. If you are flying out on a Sunday evening add 4 hours to your drive to your GPS time. This may sound excessive but it is very real.