Visiting Canyonlands National Park in March

Planning a trip to Canyonlands National Park in March is a wonderful time to visit due to the moderate temperatures. It’s a wonderful time to go because the weather is “just right” to enjoy outdoor activities.

But Canyonlands National Park in the spring is a popular season so expect crowds! There will be more people on the trails, busy campsites, and crowded scenic viewpoints with photographers.

Canyonlands National Park in March

Canyonlands is located in southeast Utah with a stunning landscape of canyons, mesas, buttes, and rivers. Use this Canyonlands National Park guide to plan your March vacation. We share tips to avoid the crowds, what to pack, where to stay and things to do at Canyonlands in March.

We live only a few hours away from Canyonlands so we’ve had the opportunity to visit many times during every season. The tips we share are based on our experiences visiting Canyonlands National Park throughout the years, and specifically for the month of March!

Our biggest tip is to be prepared for the weather and temperatures so you’re able to enjoy the outdoor activities you want to do at Canyonlands! Use our Canyonlands Packing List to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in March! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

canyonlands packing list optin box
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A Photo Tour of Canyonlands National Park

Take a visual tour through Canyonlands National Park (and Dead Horse Point) to see the stunning landscape in the parks!

Visiting Canyonlands in March

The weather at Canyonlands National Park in March is perfect! It will be cold in the mornings and evenings, and the daytime temperatures will be just right for exploring the park.

There is not much shade to be found at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands, so it’s nice to be in the park on a sunny day when the air isn’t stifling! It makes hiking so much more enjoyable!

Spring is also awesome to see the flowers that bloom during this time of year at Canyonlands. BUT Utah National Parks in the spring are busy, especially at Canyonlands, Arches and the Moab area.

There will be lines to get into the park, especially on the weekends. There may be cars circling the parking lots looking for a place to park, and the points of interest will be packed with people.

Canyonlands Weather in March

In March the Canyonlands National Park weather will still be cold in the mornings and evenings. But the daytime temperatures will be nice for enjoying outdoor activities. The average highs are near 64 degrees with the lows around 35.

Keep in mind the weather can be unpredictable if a storm rolls through with rain. Snow could also be a possibility in March.

Dress in layers when visiting Canyonlands in March. You may still need to pack winter clothing for the cold mornings and evenings, or if a storm is expected:

If you’re not used to Utah’s dry air, you’ll also want lip balm and lotion!

spring hiking gear

Is Canyonlands National Park Open in March?

Canyonlands National Park is open 24/7. Visit the NPS site to get the Canyonlands updated operating hours for Visitor Centers.

Services could still be limited in March. Keep in mind there is no gas, food, or lodging (except camping) at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands.

Is March a Good Time to Visit Canyonlands National Park?

Looking for the best time to Visit Canyonlands National Park? Each season and month of the year will have different activities and services available.

March is a terrific time for visiting Canyonlands National Park! But it’s also a popular spring break month so be sure to enter the park early, leave when it gets crowded, then go back in the afternoon!

Things to do at Canyonlands National Park in March

Check out all the fun Canyonlands National Park spring activities you can do during the month of March!

There are fun ways to get everyone excited before, during and after the trip with National Park activities:

Canyonlands Visitor Centers in March

A stop at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center and Needles Visitor Center is always a good idea! They are open every day in the spring. You’ll find exhibits, book and map sales, backcountry permits, picnic area, and general information. Water is available year-round.

The park ranger is available to give information about things you are interested in seeing and doing. The Canyonlands Ranger Programs usually begin the end of March.

If you’re visiting Canyonlands National Park with kids, be sure to grab the Junior Ranger booklet so they can earn their Junior Ranger Badge!

Canyonlands White Rim
White rim canyons seen from Island in the Sky

Canyonlands Scenic Drives in March

We LOVE the Island in the Sky scenic drive and recommend you stop at all 10 overlooks to enjoy and photograph the landscape at this park! The viewpoints atop the mesa at this park are spectacular!

As you drive through Needles Canyonlands you’ll see the views are quite different. Take time to stop at the pullouts in the park to enjoy the diverse beauty of the colorful stone spires, called needles.

Check out these two scenic drives to see different views of Island in the Sky and Needles!

We recommend the Canyonlands GuideAlong App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location.

upheaval dome at Canyonlands Island in the Sky
Upheaval Dome Hike

Canyonlands Hiking Trails in March

The Canyonlands National Park spring hikes in March are so nice because you enjoy the sun being out during the day. This is quite different from summer when you’re sweating and worrying about heat exhaustion.

Island in the Sky hikes: Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome.

Canyonlands Needles hikes: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point, Cave Spring. There are a few popular difficult hikes as well: Chelser Park Loop and Druid Arch trails.

Check with the visitor’s center for the most current trail conditions. Canyonlands backcountry permits are required for hiking these trails.

Be sure to stay hydrated, carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack, and use sunscreen and a sun hat.

Mesa Arch at sunrsie by Photo Jeepers
Mesa Arch at sunrise

Canyonlands Photography in March

Canyonlands National Park photography is best at sunrise and sunset. The colors are vibrant and the light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed. We do most of our sunrise and sunset photography at Island in the Sky.

We recommend taking pictures in the morning when the sun isn’t so harsh. If it’s a cloudy day then you’ll be able to take pictures all day!

To photograph Canyonlands sunrise at Island in the Sky we like Grand View Point and Mesa Arch.

And for Canyonlands sunset photo spots at Island in the Sky we like the Colorado River Overlook as well as nearby Dead Horse Point State Park.

For the cold March mornings, we like to use photographer gloves and keep rechargeable hand warmers in our coat pockets!

Check out our Arches & Canyonlands Photography Guide and Itinerary if you’re serious about getting the BEST photos! We share the best photography spots at each park for sunrise, sunset and even night time…and give you our favorite 3 day itinerary! 

milky way over Mesa Arch
Milky way over Mesa Arch

Stargazing at Canyonlands in March

Did you know Canyonlands has the slogan “Half the Park is After Dark”? On a clear night, the sky is literally filled with stars so definitely take one evening to stay after the sun set and LOOK UP!

In March you can see the milky way from 3 to 5 -ish am. Yes, that’s a bit early for most, but rewarding for those who want to make the effort! Canyonlands is a popular destination for astrophotographers so you won’t be alone in the park at night.

Canyonlands National Park is internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing because of its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies.

Offroading at Canyonlands Needles
4×4 Trail at Canyonlands Needles

Canyonlands 4×4 Trails in March

If you want to drive the 4×4 trails in Canyonlands in March, you’ll need to know the up-to-date conditions. Many trails can be impassable if wet. Check with the park rangers for the conditions of the specific trail you want to drive before heading out!

If you’re up for a thrill of a lifetime, and have the right vehicle, we recommend Shafer Trail! It’s a challenging, unpaved backcountry road in Island in the Sky that connects with Moab.

We also enjoy the 4×4 trails at Needles Canyonlands, but check to see if you’ll need a permit for the trail you want to drive.

High-clearance 4WD vehicles with a low range gear (4LO) are required on all off-road trails in Canyonlands. ATVs, OHVs, or UTVs are not permitted inside the park. These trails should not be attempted by inexperienced drivers since there is a high risk of vehicle damage that could lead to towing costs in excess of $1,000!

Canyonlands Tours in March

One of the best ways to get to know the park is booking a Canyonlands National Park tour! Whether you’re looking for a half-day or full-day excursion, there are plenty of Canyonlands tours available to fit your needs. Adverse spring weather could affect tour schedules so check in advance!

Canyonlands Biking in March

You can ride on any public roadway at The Needles and Island in the Sky. You must ride single file. There are no road shoulders or bike lanes.

You’ll find hundreds of miles of roads for mountain biking in Canyonlands for day trips and overnight trips:

  • Overnight Biking Trips: must have a Canyonlands overnight backcountry permit. Reservations for White Rim campsites are very competitive so plan to make a reservation up to four months in advance.
  • Day Biking Trips: must have a Canyonlands day-use permit for White Rim, Elephant Hill, Lavender Canyon, and Peekaboo/Horse Canyon roads.

If you’ll be riding on 4WD roads, there are no shoulders or bike lanes so be aware of passing vehicles.

Tent camping near Moab Utah
Tent camping near Canyonlands

Canyonlands Camping in March

There is only one small developed Island in the Sky campground in addition to a few backpacking camping areas. Willow Flat Campground has 12 sites with pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings. However, there is no potable water, so make sure you pack water for your stay. The campground also allows pets. The site has a “first come, first served” policy. You can stay for a maximum of seven days.

During the spring and fall, Canyonlands overnight backpacking permits are in high demand! If you plan to backpack and camp at these two Island in the Sky campsites, you may have to reserve your permit up to four months in advance.

  • Murphy Point Overlook Campsite
  • Syncline Campsite

There options for Needles Canyonlands camping is one developed campground and a variety of backcountry campsites. The Needles Campground has 26 sites:

  • Fourteen campsites in Loop A are always on a “first come, first served” basis. 
  • Twelve campsites in Loop B an be reserved in the spring.. and they fill quickly!
  • Group sites are open from mid-March to mid-November.

Needles Canyonlands backcountry permits are required for all overnight stays and must be reserved online at least two days before start of trip for these 5 sites:

  • Peekaboo
  • Devil’s Kitchen
  • New Bates Wilson
  • Bobby Jo
  • Horse Hoof

Canyonlands Lodging

If you’re not a fan of camping, or you can’t get a camp site in the park, there are more lodging options near Canyonlands:

Arches Canyonlands guides and maps

BUY AT AMAZON: Arches and Canyonlands Guides and Maps

Things To Do Near Canyonlands in March

Canyonlands Itineraries

We’ve created some done-for-you itineraries for visiting Canyonlands depending on the time you have to spend at the park. Click the graphic below to get a free travel bundle that includes printable daily itineraries. Or click the links below to see detailed itineraries of the best things to do at Canyonlands!

Click the graphic below to get your free Canyonlands Travel Bundle to help you plan your vacation based on the number of days you have to spend at the park!

Canyonlands Travel Bundle Optin

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