US Southwest National Parks in March

There are amazing sites to see and activities to do when visiting the US Southwest National Parks in March. Enjoy stunning landscapes and outdoor activities in early spring at a variety of parks in the American Southwest!

Check out these vacation ideas for visiting US Southwest National Parks in the spring that include guides, tips, activities, and packing checklists to help you plan your vacation for the month of March!

Southwest National Parks in March

The American Southwest is a region filled with unique landscapes to explore and photograph, as well as cultural attractions to learn about the history of the region.

If you’re looking for March vacation ideas in the US, you’ll find no shortage of places to visit in the Southwest.

We have teamed up with other travelers to share what it’s like visiting specific Southwest National Parks in March. The number one tip we have is to be prepared for the weather and temperatures for the time you’ll be visiting. Each park will have different conditions in March so it’s important to check the weather in advance!

Use our Spring Packing List for National Parks 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!

National Parks packing list for spring summer fall and winter
This site contains affiliate links which means WE may receive commissions for purchases made through these links. We only provide links to products we actually use and/or wholeheartedly recommend! As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Read the full Disclosure Policy.

Spring Gear for Southwest National Parks

We want to stress again that when planning your spring vacation in the Southwest USA, remember that conditions vary on the location and elevation of each National Park. Be sure to check the specific park website for more detailed information about visiting in early spring!

In March the temperatures are more moderate for hiking in Arizona or New Mexico. You will still experience snowy winter conditions in Bryce Canyon in Utah!

Here’s a list of spring clothing we recommend for most of the Southwest National Parks in March – but again, check expected weather and temperatures for the park you’ll visit:

spring hiking gear

US Southwest National Parks in March

If you’re planning a US National Park vacation, be sure to check out the US National Park Pass: the cost, how it saves money, and where you can buy the pass.

Be sure to check each National Park website for the services available and operating hours in March. Some Visitor Centers and services could still be limited or closed.

We have teamed with other travelers to provide this list of Southwest National Parks to visit in March in these states: Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming/Montana.

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon view from the South Rim

Arizona National Parks in March

March is a terrific time of year to visit the National Parks in Arizona to avoid the heat! Yes, you may still encounter cold or snowy conditions, but if you’re prepared for the weather, you’ll find that early spring is a terrific time to go!

Grand Canyon National Park in March

One of the best national parks to visit in the southwestern U.S. is Grand Canyon National Park. I have visited the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona several times, and it never ceases to amaze me.

If you are visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon on a day trip (which is what we did), I would recommend starting at Mather Point (one of the most incredible viewpoints of the South Rim), walking or hiking part of the Canyon Rim Trail, and then doing the Desert View Drive.

This beautiful, scenic road has plenty of places where you can pull off to the side and take in the views of the Grand Canyon without the crowds. Desert View Drive is a must-see US National Park scenic drive!

In March, the weather averages in the high 50s, which is a much more ideal temperature than in the summer. March also has fewer crowds than in the summer months.

You will need an entry pass for admission to the park. To avoid peak times, arrive before 10 am or after 2 pm. (Recommended by Cate, Intentional Traveling)

Grand Canyon Lodging & Tours

Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park in March

The Petrified Forest National Park is a great place to visit in March! The crowds are small, and the moderate temperatures are great for hiking! When planning a March trip to the Petrified Forest National Park, here’s what you can expect:

There is an entry fee to enter the park, which can be bought either as a 7-day or annual pass. In general, the park is open between 8 am and 5 pm.

March transitions from winter to spring, with the temperatures ranging from cool to mild. Daytime temperatures can vary between 40°F (4°C) and 70°F (21°C), while nighttime temperatures can drop to around 20°F (-6°C). Dress in layers as needed to prepare for temperature fluctuations.

The mild temperatures push hiking up on the scale of the best ways to get up close and personal with the park. The park offers a wide array of hiking options. During our March visit a few years ago, we especially enjoyed the short (less than a mile long) Blue Mesa trail! You’ll experience fantastic colors and petrified wood while on the trek. (Recommended by Teresa, An Acre in the City)

Lodging & Tours Near Petrified Forest

Saguaro National Park
Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park in March

Saguaro National Park is one of the best national parks to visit in the Southwest in March. Located in Southern Arizona, Saguaro National Park is known for its large concentration of saguaro cacti.

March is a great time to explore the park because temperatures are mild (ranging from a high of 76°F to a low of 48°F) and there is a possibility to see desert wildflower blooms.

Saguaro National Park is divided into two sections separated by the city of Tucson. While there is an entrance fee to enter, reservations are not required.

Both sections of the park offer miles of scenic hiking trails of various degrees of difficulty. The eastern part of the park is larger and has several trails for backcountry hiking and a scenic paved loop drive.

The western side of the park is smaller but has denser cacti forests. The western side has an unpaved scenic drive through the park and you can also hike to a hill with petroglyphs. (Recommended by Matilda, The Travel Sisters)

Saguaro National Park Lodging & Tours

Death Valley
Death Valley

California National Parks in March

California’s national parks are some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world. Visiting California National Parks in the spring is a fabulous time to go!

The early weather in Southern California can’t be beat! We recommend adding any of the National Parks and National Monuments in this state to your California Bucket List!

Death Valley National Park in March

Death Valley is one of the best California National Parks to visit in the spring. In March you will enjoy pleasant temperatures, clear skies, and beautiful desert wildflowers in bloom. 

For some of the best wildflowers in the park, head to lower elevation areas, like Jubilee Pass or the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes, where you can see marigolds and desert trumpets carpeting the desert floor.

During particularly rainy years, there can even be super blooms, with a colorful blanket of wildflowers covering the rolling hills. 

Other popular things to do in Death Valley National Park include Zabriskie Point, an unusually pointy peak amidst swirling badlands, and Badwater Basin, an otherworldly-looking salt flat that stretches on for hundreds of miles. (Recommended by Jess, Uprooted Traveler)

Death Valley Lodging & Tours

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park in March

One of our favorite places to visit in March is Joshua Tree National Park in California. Not only is the weather nice and cool at that time of year, but also all of the desert flowers and Joshua Trees are blooming. It is just beautiful! 

There are many things to do in Joshua Tree National Park. You can drive along the main road to see all the biggest Joshua Trees or you can park your car and go for a hike to see them up close.

Some of the most popular spring hikes at US National Parks can be found at Joshua Tree. We recommend Arch Rock Trail, Skull Rock and Cholla Cactus Garden. Where else would you be able to see jumping chollas?

Joshua Tree National Park is located in Southern California about two hours drive from Los Angeles. It is open year around 24 hours a day. There is an entrance fee per vehicle. The America the Beautiful pass is also valid here. (Recommended by Paula, Gone with the Gastons)

Joshua Tree National Park Lodging & Tours

Yosemite National Park in the spring
Yosemite in the spring

Yosemite National Park in March

Yosemite National Park is one of the most popular natural attractions in California and in March, it offers a unique blend of lingering winter and the beginnings of spring. Yosemite Valley is breathtakingly beautiful with iconic landmarks like El Capitan standing in front of snow-kissed peaks.

Many of the waterfalls, such as Yosemite Falls, will be coming back to life from the winter rain and snowfall. Be sure to add Yosemite National Park to your US waterfalls bucket list!

If you enjoy adventure, the remaining snow is great for renting cross-country skis or snowshoes. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, lower-elevation hiking trails will be mostly accessible as the snow begins to melt away.

There are many ways to experience Yosemite, whether you are looking to camp and explore the rugged outdoors of if you prefer sitting by the warm fire in a cozy cabin, driving through the scenery, and visiting the museums and history centers.

March weather in Yosemite is crisp, with an average high temperature of 58°F/14°C and an average low just above freezing at 33°F/0.5°C. Be prepared for approximately 9 days of precipitation on average, so pack accordingly. Note that temperatures and weather conditions can change drastically throughout the park depending on your exact location and elevation.

Getting to Yosemite is part of the adventure. If you plan on taking a flight to the park, the closest airports are Merced Airport (MCE) or Fresno-Yosemite International (FAT) but the biggest airports (which will likely have more flight options) are through Sacramento (SMF) or San Francisco (SFO) which are both a 3.5 to 4 hour drive away. (Recommended by Janelle,  Make the Trip Matter)

Yosemite National Park Lodging and Tours

Sand sledding at White Sands
Sand sledding at White Sands

New Mexico National Parks in March

There’s one fun National Park in New Mexico you should add to your Southwest USA road trip itinerary. It’s a terrific spring destination, especially in the month of March!

White Sands National Park in March

One of the best times of year to visit White Sands National Park has to be March. This unique destination is south central New Mexico and is a great stop on a road trip between Texas and Arizona (or anywhere in the southwest for that matter).

If you’re traveling from elsewhere, the nearest big cities are Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. White Sands is literally a huge outdoor playground in the middle of nowhere, but visitors will be glad they made the effort.

White Sands National Park is 275 square miles of gypsum sand dunes. The sand is not your typical brown color, but more of a light color that even looks white at a distance.

One of the best things to do here is to rent a plastic disk at the visitors center and slide down the dunes. We spent hours climbing and sliding all sizes of dunes and since the park is so massive, it was easy to find places away from the crowds.

The weather in March is perfect, with average temperatures in the low 70s. Whether you’re traveling with friends or like visiting national parks with teens, this is one destination that everyone is sure to love. (Recommended by Kirsten, Kids Are A Trip)

Where to Stay Near White Sands National Park

Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park

Texas National Parks in March

Visiting the Texas National Parks in early spring means the weather starts to warm up, painting the parks in vibrant spring hues. Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, bird-watching, fishing, and beachcombing in March!

Big Bend National Park in March

If you’re an adventurous traveler, visiting Big Bend National Park in March should definitely be on your list. This is the perfect time to explore the park, thanks to the pleasant weather and the opportunity to take advantage of the small per car entry fee that lasts for 7 days.

Visiting this US National Park in March offers an enjoyable climate with mild temperatures, making it ideal for outdoor activities. You can go on the Santa Elena Canyon Trail, a hike that takes you through stunning scenery between two counties (US & Mexico). As you cross this trail, be prepared to be taken back by the towering cliffs and the Rio Grande River flowing through the canyon.

Another big attraction at Big Bend National Park is to treat yourself to a relaxing dip in the park’s hot springs. Immerse yourself in the warm, refreshing waters and let the natural surroundings calm your soul.

For a unique experience, consider crossing the border into Mexico and enjoying some delicious tacos. Just a short walk from Big Bend National Park, you can enjoy the flavors of authentic Mexican cuisine, but remember to take your passport with you.

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this park March, with temperatures averaging a high of 80 F and a low of 48 F. Remember to bring comfortable hiking shoes, sunscreen, and plenty of water for your outdoor adventures. (Recommended by Kaylee, Kaylee Janell)

Where to Stay Near Big Bend:

Delicate Arch
Delicate Arch

Utah National Parks in March

When visiting Utah National Parks in March the daytime temperatures perfect for outdoor activities, but the crowds start to increase in the spring so keep that in mind when planning your trip.

Spring activities in Utah National Parks include hiking, biking, canyoneering, scenic drives, landscape photography, stargazing, and more!

Arches National Park in March

Arches might just be the best of the five national parks in Utah to visit in March. The weather is mild, averaging around 60F, and the evenings are cool. And with overcast or clouds likely in the forecast, photographing the beautiful arches in March is good at all times of the day. 

Aside from the weather being ideal, March is the month before the timed entry tickets go into effect at Arches National Park. So, you’ll be able to visit Arches as you wish, without worrying about reserving an entry time slot. 

As you could expect, the crowds aren’t as big at Arches National Park in March either, so you’ll have time to yourself on the trails too! 

Speaking of trails, with the mild temperatures, you’ll be able to hike in Arches all day long. Don’t miss Delicate Arch – a popular location for sunset at Arches National Park. This famed arch is highlighted on Utah license plates, and while the hike is only 3.2 miles out and back, it’s considered moderate with the elevation gain, but so worth it! (Recommended by Heather, ArboursAbroad)

Arches National Park Lodging & Tours

Rim Trail at Bryce Canyon with snow

Bryce Canyon National Park in March

March is an ideal time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park, avoiding the crowds of its annual 2.7 million visitors. The park transforms into a stunning winter wonderland with snow-covered hoodoos, offering unique activities like snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Bryce Canyon National Park in March remains a captivating destination despite the chilly temperatures, averaging between 23 and 45 degrees, and the possibility of 17 inches of snowfall.

Visitors should prepare for potential road closures and variable weather conditions. The Visitor’s Center is an essential first stop, providing updates on weather, road status, and ranger-led activities. It also features an informative 25-minute movie and a must-see museum.

The Rim Trail to Sunset Point is a popular choice for hiking enthusiasts. This easy hike at Bryce Canyon is 1 mile in distance and may require waterproof boots, crampons, and hiking poles due to melting snow and icy trails.

Despite the winter conditions, Bryce Canyon promises an extraordinary and memorable experience in March as long as visitors remain adaptable and ready for the unexpected. By visiting in March, you can experience Bryce Canyon’s serene beauty and adventure, making for an unforgettable early spring escape. (Recommended by Becky, Cultivate Traveling)

Bryce Canyon Lodging & Tours

Canyonlands National Park
Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park in March

Canyonlands National Park is a vast expanse of 527 square miles of canyons, mesas, arches, and buttes formed over millions of years. March is a great time to visit as the weather starts to warm up from the winter chill, but the peak-season hordes have still yet to descend to the region.

At Canyonlands National Park in March, the winter cold has started to loosen its grip, but the scorching summer heat is still a few months away. During the day, crisp mornings shift into pleasantly warm afternoons, with temperatures hovering around the 60s F. But, nights can still be chilly with an average of 35F. 

With the lovely weather and low crowds, hiking is a great option, especially in the very accessible Island in the Sky district. Don’t miss seeing the view from Mesa Arch on your Canyonlands itinerary, especially at sunrise when it’s extra spectacular with a beautiful underbelly orange glow. (Recommended by Catherine, Day Trip Nomad)

Canyonlands Lodging & Tours

Hiking at Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef National Park in March

Capitol Reef is an amazing place to explore and photograph the colorful cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges at the park. Capitol Reef is open all day, every day. The visitor center is open daily, but hours in the early spring may vary

Visiting Capitol Reef National Park in March it will still be cold with highs around 55 and lows around 31 degrees F. You may also experience snow or rain. 

The best thing about a March vacation is the Gifford House opens on March 14, Pi Day! You can find unique handmade items and locally baked fruit pies and homemade ice cream!

Some of the best day hikes in Capitol Reef National Park are: Hickman Bridge, Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge Wash. Remember the park’s elevation is 5500 feet. If you’re coming from a lower elevation, or from sea level, trails that are considered “easy” might be more difficult for you. (Recommended by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)

Capitol Reef Lodging & Tours

Zion National Park
Zion National Park

Zion National Park in March

Zion National Park is a snow-dusted wonderland most years come March with breathtaking scenery and abundant wildlife as the park shifts into spring.

This month is often overlooked since most travelers visit the park during the summertime, where notorious crowds, nonexistent parking, and the desert summer heat permeate the plans of any itinerary.  

However, Zion National Park in March is an excellent time to visit. The shuttles are back up and running after the winter, most trails are open with a fraction of the peak season crowds, and it boasts cool hiking weather. Which you’ll appreciate if you scored a permit to sweat your way up Angel’s Landing.

Nearly everything is accessible this time of year with a few highlights being the Canyon Overlook Trail, and waterfalls along the Weeping Rock and Emerald Pools Trails abundant from snowmelt and rainfall. You’ll also have congestion-free roads to enjoy the Zion National Park scenic drives like the famous Mt-Carmel Scenic Byway.

Angel’s Landing and the Narrows may close or require additional gear to do safely, so keep that in mind if those are must-sees during your trip. The lack of crowds, mild weather, and cheaper prices this season make planning a Zion itinerary rather seamless this season, even if your plans are last minute.

Be flexible with your plans, pack appropriately, and always check the current trail and weather conditions to reap the full benefits of this gem in March. (Recommended by Aaren, What Do You Sea)

Zion National Park Lodging & Tours


national park guides and maps

Plan a US National Park Vacation

get the free national parks by state list

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *