Embarking on a journey to the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is a venture into a mesmerizing landscape of shifting sands and dramatic vistas. Nestled in the heart of southern Colorado, this unique destination calls for thoughtful consideration when it comes to your choice of attire.

The sweeping dunes, radiant sun, and arid climate demand a well-prepared wardrobe to ensure both comfort and safety during your exploration. In this guide, we will outline 15+ essential outfit items carefully selected to enhance your experience in the desert environment.

From protective gear against the intense sunlight to practical accessories for traversing the sandy terrain, this comprehensive list aims to equip you for an unforgettable adventure.

Additionally, we will highlight five outfit items to avoid, steering you away from potential discomfort and ensuring your focus remains on the awe-inspiring beauty of the Great Sand Dunes.

As you prepare for your journey, let this guide be your companion in crafting an outfit that not only complements the environment but enhances your enjoyment of one of nature's most remarkable wonders.

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Wide-Brimmed Hat

Great Sand Dunes outfits hat

Choose a hat with a wide brim to shield your face, neck, and shoulders from the intense desert sun. This will provide essential shade and help prevent sunburn. Check out how Tiempo de Zafra creates beautiful hats from waste

Long-Sleeved Shirt

Great Sand Dunes outfits long-sleeved shirt

Opt for a shirt made from breathable fabric to keep you cool while providing coverage for your arms. This helps protect your skin from harmful UV rays and prevents sunburn. For more inspiration, check out the 20 best affordable hemp shirts, Tees, and tops

High-quality Sunglasses

Great Sand Dunes outfits sunglasses

Invest in high-quality sunglasses that block UVA and UVB rays. The bright sunlight reflecting off the sand can be intense, and sunglasses will protect your eyes from damage. Here are the 15 best affordable and sustainable sunglasses

Lightweight and Breathable Pants

Great Sand Dunes outfits lightweight pants

Choose lightweight, breathable pants to protect your legs from the sun and avoid overheating. Loose-fitting pants allow for better airflow, reducing the risk of heat-related issues. Check out the 10 best affordable linen yoga pants in 2023. 

Comfortable Hiking Boots

Great Sand Dunes outfits hiking boots

Select comfortable, well-ventilated hiking boots to protect your feet from the hot sand and provide stability on uneven terrain. Ankle support is crucial for navigating dunes.

Pick a unique pair from our extensive list of the best affordable vegan hiking boots of 2023. 

Sunscreen (SPF 30 or Higher)

Great Sand Dunes outfits sunscreen

Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed skin, including your face, neck, and hands. Reapply throughout the day, especially after sweating or swimming, to prevent sunburn.

Bandana or Buff

Great Sand Dunes outfits bandana

Wrap a bandana or buff around your face and neck to shield against blowing sand and dust. This versatile accessory also helps keep you cool by wicking away sweat. Do not forget to check out our extensive collection of the best affordable and eco-friendly headbands

Hydration Pack or Water Bottle

Great Sand Dunes outfits water bottle

Carry a hydration pack or water bottle to stay adequately hydrated. The desert air can lead to rapid dehydration, so drink water regularly to maintain your energy and well-being. Speaking of water, check out the 6 powerful benefits of lemon water for good health. 

Snug Hat or Cap

Great Sand Dunes outfits cap

Ensure your hat or cap fits snugly to prevent it from being blown away by strong winds. This also helps in keeping the hat secure and providing consistent shade. 

Moisture-Wicking Socks

Great Sand Dunes outfits socks

Wear moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable. This helps prevent blisters and other discomfort, especially if you are walking on sandy surfaces. Discover the 20 best affordable, sustainable, and organic socks

Windbreaker or Light Jacket

Great Sand Dunes outfits jacket

Pack a lightweight windbreaker or jacket for cooler evenings. The temperature in desert environments can drop significantly after sunset, and having an extra layer provides warmth. For more inspiration, check out the 15 best affordable jackets for broad shoulders. 


Great Sand Dunes outfits gaiters

Protect your ankles and lower legs from sand entering your shoes by wearing gaiters. This is particularly useful when hiking on dunes, where loose sand can easily find its way into your footwear.

Comfy Backpack

Great Sand Dunes outfits backpack

Choose a small, comfortable backpack to carry your essentials. This includes water, snacks, sunscreen, a camera, and any other items you might need during your exploration.

Discover our wide selection of the best affordable, vegan, and eco-friendly backpacks for more inspiration. 

Trekking Poles

Great Sand Dunes outfits trekking poles

If you plan on navigating the dunes, consider using trekking poles for added stability. They can be especially helpful when ascending or descending sandy slopes.

Sand-Free Mat or Blanket

Great Sand Dunes outfits mat

Bring a mat or blanket to create a comfortable, sand-free spot to sit and relax. It is a practical accessory for enjoying the scenery or having a picnic without getting sandy. Speaking of mats, discover the best yoga mats for beginners here. 

Camera or Smartphone

Great Sand Dunes outfits camera

Capture breathtaking landscapes with a camera or smartphone. The dunes offer unique and picturesque views, so do not forget to document your experience.

Speaking of smartphones, do not forget to check out our list of the 22 insanely helpful sustainability apps you need to know. 

Outfit Items You Should Avoid!

Heavy Jeans or Thick Fabrics

Avoid heavy jeans or thick fabrics as they can trap heat, making you feel uncomfortable and increasing the risk of dehydration. Opt for lightweight, breathable materials.

Open-toed Shoes 

Steer clear of open-toed shoes to prevent sand from entering and causing discomfort or injury. Closed-toe shoes provide better protection, especially when walking on uneven surfaces.

Dark-Colored Clothing

Refrain from wearing dark-colored clothing, as it absorbs and retains heat. Lighter colors reflect sunlight and help keep you cooler in the desert environment.

Be Mindful of Bare Skin

Minimize exposed skin to reduce the risk of sunburn and dehydration. Long sleeves and pants offer better protection against the sun's harmful rays.

Excessive Jewelry

Leave delicate or large jewelry behind, as it can be easily damaged or lost in the sand. Additionally, excessive jewelry may become uncomfortable during physical activities. Opt for minimal accessories for a more practical approach.

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About the Author: Gohar Davtyan

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