With elevations averaging around 8,000 feet (2438 m) and reaching up to over 9,000 feet (2743 m) Bryce Canyon is a high altitude park. Though it's not too far away in mileage, that's nearly 4,000 feet (1219 m) higher than the Visitor Centers at Zion and Arches.
The higher you go, the less atmosphere there is pressing down, and the further apart oxygen molecules spread. As a result, at 8,000 feet effective oxygen levels are about 75% of what's found at sea level, and as oxygen falls the risk for altitude sickness goes up.
Even mild exertion in the park is likely to cause you to breathe faster as your lungs work to acquire oxygen and your heart to beat faster to better move that oxygenated blood through your body. Your hydration will suffer too from increased urine output and dry air.
While these responses are normal, our Search and Resuce team responds to a number of visitors suffering from acute altitude-related symptoms each year.
Who is at Risk?While altitude sickness can affect absolutely anyone, those with preexisting heart conditions, risk of stroke, COPD, asthma, and other chronic illnesses carry an elevated risk of complications.
What are the Symptoms?Altitude sickness symptoms can escalate quickly but often begins with:
What can you do?
Going down is optional, but coming back up is mandatory!
Last updated: April 17, 2023