The road to the top of Mount Evans in the Colorado Rockies used to be billed as the “highest paved road in the United States.” At the end of the road, at an elevation of more than 14,000 feet above Mean Sea Level, visitors could enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and a doughnut in a two-story stone-and-timber visitor center. Some of the more adventurous might take the rough path to the true summit, a few feet higher. And they might be forgiven for wondering where they could find some oxygen, since the air was relatively thin at that elevation. In fact, some entrepreneur had anticipated such a need and placed a coin-operated oxygen dispenser in the lobby of the visitor center.
The article linked below provides a fascinating description of just how thin Earth’s atmosphere really is in relation to the size of the Earth and its mountain ranges. It would be nice if they showed the altitudes of commercial flights, the heights of sprites emanating from the tops of thunderstorms, and other such comparisons, but this article makes for interesting enough reading as is.