Looking for the perfect Great Sand Dunes National Park packing list? Look no further!
Great Sand Dunes National Park is one of the most unique and stunning landscapes in Colorado. With towering sand dunes, expansive desert vistas, and snow-capped peaks in the distance, it’s a true bucket list destination for outdoor adventurers. Whether you’re planning to go sandboarding, hiking, or camping, it’s important to pack appropriately for your trip to ensure that you’re comfortable, safe, and prepared.
In this blog post, we’ll provide a comprehensive packing list for Great Sand Dunes National Park that will help you plan your adventure. We’ll cover everything from clothing and footwear to gear and equipment, and we’ll even include some optional items to enhance your experience. And, at the end, we’ll share a FREE downloadable PDF of this ultimate Great Sand Dunes National Park packing list to make your packing even easier.
So let’s get started with our packing list for Great Sand Dunes National Park!
Clothing and Footwear Great Sand Dunes National Park Packing List:
Choosing the right clothing and footwear is crucial for any trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park. The park’s environment is often hot and dry during the day, while temperatures can drop significantly at night. Lightweight, breathable clothing is recommended for hiking and other outdoor activities. Long-sleeve shirts and pants offer additional sun protection, while sturdy and comfortable footwear is essential for navigating the park’s varied terrain.
- Lightweight, breathable clothing: The park can get very hot, so it’s important to wear lightweight and breathable clothing that will keep you cool and comfortable while hiking or exploring. We love SmartWool t-shirts.
- Long-sleeve shirts and pants for sun protection: The sun can be intense in the park, so long-sleeve shirts and pants will provide added protection from harmful UV rays.
- Sturdy, comfortable footwear: The sand dunes can be challenging to walk on, so it’s important to wear sturdy and comfortable footwear that can handle the terrain. I almost always wear my Columbia hiking boots.
- Hat: A hat will provide additional sun protection and keep you cool.
- Sunglasses: Sunglasses will protect your eyes from the bright sun and sand.
- Rain jacket or poncho: While the park is known for its dry climate, thunderstorms can occur during the summer months, so it’s important to pack a rain jacket or poncho just in case. Here are our recommendations:
- Warm hat and gloves (for cold nights): Nights in the park can be chilly, especially at higher elevations, so a warm hat and gloves will keep you comfortable.
- Extra socks and underwear: Packing extra socks and underwear is always a good idea in case of unexpected weather or if you plan to be active and need to change.
- Water shoes or sandals (if planning to wade in the creek): The park’s Medano Creek is a popular spot for wading and splashing, so water shoes or sandals are useful for navigating the creek.
Navigation and Safety Gear Great Sand Dunes National Park Packing List
Particularly if you plan to tackle any of the strenuous hikes in the park, or camp or backpack in the backcountry, you will want to be sure you have these crucial safety items and know how to use them. Bringing navigation and safety gear can help you stay on course and handle unexpected situations. Backpacks, headlamps or flashlights, maps, and compasses are all important tools for navigating the park’s vast terrain. First aid kits, emergency shelters, and whistles can also provide peace of mind in case of an emergency.
- Backpack or daypack: A backpack or daypack is essential for carrying all of your gear and supplies on hikes or walks.
- Headlamp or flashlight: A headlamp or flashlight is important for navigating in the dark or in caves.
- Extra batteries: Bring extra batteries for your headlamp or flashlight to avoid running out of power.
- Multi-tool or knife: A multi-tool or knife can be useful for a variety of tasks such as cutting rope, opening cans, and repairing gear.
- Map and compass: Great Sand Dunes National Park is a vast area, and a map and compass will help you navigate and stay on track.
- GPS device (optional): A GPS device can be useful for navigation and keeping track of your location.
- Water filter or purification tablets: You’ll need a way to filter or purify water if you plan to drink from creeks or streams in the park.
- First aid kit: Accidents can happen, so it’s always a good idea to bring a first aid kit with essential items such as bandages, antiseptics, and pain relievers.
- Medications: If you have any prescription medications, be sure to bring enough for your entire trip.
- Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, etc.): Personal hygiene is important, especially when camping, so be sure to bring items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, and hand sanitizer.
- Trash bags: Leave no trace! Bring trash bags to properly dispose of your garbage and keep the park clean.
- Emergency whistle: In case of an emergency, an emergency whistle can help you signal for help and alert others to your location.
- Emergency shelter (such as a bivy sack or emergency blanket): In case of unexpected weather or emergencies, having an emergency shelter can keep you warm and dry.
- Emergency beacon (optional): An emergency beacon can help you quickly signal for help in case of an emergency.
Food and Hydration Great Sand Dunes National Park Packing List:
Even if you plan to eat at restaurants for most of your trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park, you will want to bring some basic food items and snacks with you. The park is in a remote area and the nearest town of Alamosa is a minimum 30-minute drive away from the park. Coming with your own snacks will keep you from getting hangry while exploring the dunes!
- Water bottles or hydration system: It’s important to stay hydrated in the desert environment, so bring plenty of water with you or a hydration system to keep water easily accessible while hiking or exploring. We also like to bring hydration salts!
- Non-perishable food items (granola bars, trail mix, etc.): Non-perishable food items are convenient for snacking on the go or for a quick meal while on a hike. We like CLIF bars.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables (if desired): Fresh produce can provide necessary nutrients and hydration while exploring the park.
- Energy bars or gels: Energy bars or gels can provide a quick boost of energy during long hikes or strenuous activities.
- Instant coffee or tea bags: Packing instant coffee or tea bags can provide a nice treat in the morning or during a break.
- Cooler (if bringing perishable food): If you plan to bring perishable food items, a cooler will help keep them fresh.
Camping Gear Great Sand Dunes National Park Packing List
When visiting Great Sand Dunes National Park, having the right camping gear can make a big difference in your overall experience. Tents, sleeping bags, and cooking stoves are essential items for overnight camping trips. Bear-resistant containers or bear bags are also necessary to store food and other scented items safely away from wildlife.
- Tent or camping gear (if camping): Great Sand Dunes National Park has several campgrounds, and a tent or other camping gear is necessary if you plan to camp overnight.
- Sleeping bag and sleeping pad: It can get cold at night, even in the summer, so a warm sleeping bag and pad will keep you comfortable.
- Cooking stove: There are no restaurants or cafes in the park, so bringing a cooking stove is essential for making your own meals.
- Fuel for cooking stove: Without fuel, your cooking stove is useless, so be sure to bring enough fuel for your trip.
- Cookware and utensils: To cook your meals, you’ll need pots, pans, and utensils.
- Bear-resistant containers or bear bags (if camping): Great Sand Dunes National Park is home to black bears, so it’s important to properly store your food to prevent bears from getting into it.
Miscellaneous Items Great Sand Dunes National Park Great Sand Dunes National Park Packing List
Great Sand Dunes National Park offers a variety of activities, and bringing miscellaneous items can enhance your overall experience. Sandboards or sand sleds can be rented at the park and provide a thrilling way to explore the dunes. Binoculars and cameras are great for wildlife viewing and capturing memories. A portable shade canopy or umbrella can provide relief from the sun during breaks, and duct tape or rope can be useful in a variety of situations. Finally, bringing cash or a credit card can come in handy for park fees or emergencies.
- Sandboard or sand sled (if planning to sandboard or sand sled): The sand dunes are a popular spot for sandboarding and sledding, so bring your own equipment or rent it from a nearby store. >> Read our guide to sandboarding and sand sledding in Great Sand Dunes National Park
- Camera or GoPro: The park is home to stunning vistas and landscapes, so a camera or GoPro will allow you to capture memories of your trip. We shoot with a Sony a7iii and also use a GoPro for high-octane activities (like sandboarding!). >> Read our guide to capturing stunning Great Sand Dunes National Park photography
- Tripod (optional): A tripod can be useful for steady shots while using a camera or GoPro.
- Binoculars: Binoculars can enhance your viewing experience of the wildlife and scenery in the park.
- Portable shade canopy or umbrella: The sun can be intense in the park, so a portable shade canopy or umbrella can provide a spot for shade and a break from the sun.
- Cash or credit card (for park fees or emergencies): Cash or a credit card is necessary for paying park fees or in case of emergencies.
- Cell phone or satellite phone: Cell phone service can be limited in the park, but a cell phone or satellite phone can be useful in case of an emergency.
- Duct tape: Duct tape can be useful for emergency repairs or for general use during camping or hiking.
- Rope or cordage: Rope or cordage can be used for setting up a shelter or for general use during camping or hiking
- Microspikes: If you are visiting in winter, a set of microspikes to slip over your boots will keep you from slipping on ice!
Complete Great Sand Dunes National Park Packing List
Here is the complete packing list for everything you need to bring on a trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park!
Clothing and footwear:
- Lightweight, breathable clothing
- Long-sleeve shirts and pants for sun protection
- Sturdy, comfortable footwear
- Rain jacket or poncho
- Warm hat and gloves (for cold nights)
- Extra socks and underwear
- Water shoes or sandals (if planning to wade in the creek)
Navigation and safety:
- Backpack or daypack
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Extra batteries
- Multi-tool or knife
- Map and compass
- GPS device (optional)
- Water filter or purification tablets
- First aid kit
- Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, etc.)
- Trash bags
- Emergency whistle
- Emergency shelter (such as a bivy sack or emergency blanket)
- Emergency beacon (optional)
Food and hydration:
- Water bottles or hydration system
- Non-perishable food items (granola bars, trail mix, etc.)
- Fresh fruits and vegetables (if desired)
- Energy bars or gels
- Instant coffee or tea bags
- Cooler (if bringing perishable food)
- Tent or camping gear (if camping)
- Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
- Cooking stove
- Fuel for cooking stove
- Cookware and utensils
- Bear-resistant containers or bear bags (if camping)
- Sandboard or sand sled (if planning to sandboard or sand sled)
- Camera or GoPro
- Tripod (optional)
- Portable shade canopy or umbrella
- Cash or credit card (for park fees or emergencies)
- Cell phone or satellite phone
- Duct tape
- Rope or cordage
- Lightweight blanket or sleeping bag liner
- Camp chair or seat pad
Great Sand Dunes National Park Packing List FREE Printable PDF
In conclusion, packing for your trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park is an essential step towards ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable experience in the great outdoors. With the wide range of activities and terrain available, it’s important to pack strategically and bring the necessary gear for your adventure.
By following this comprehensive packing list, you’ll be well-prepared for all the adventures that await you in the park. And if you are looking for ideas on what to do in 2 days in Great Sand Dunes National Park, or what the best hikes in the park are, we’ve got you covered. >> You can check out all of our Great Sand Dunes National Park Guides here.
And don’t forget to sign up for our email list to receive a free printable PDF packing list that you can use for your next trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park, as well as exclusive travel tips and offers!
Happy packing, and we can’t wait to see you out there in the dunes!