Looking for the best national parks to visit in March?

March is one of our favorite times to visit National Parks to catch the wildflowers. We’re excitedly awaiting super bloom in the desert since we had a wetter winter this year. The weather is also mild at many national parks, making it great for hiking and climbing.

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Last Updated: February 8, 2023

Before we get into it, we want to remind everyone to explore the parks responsibly using the 7 Leave no Trace Principles. Have a plan, stay on established trails, carry out anything you carry in, leave what you find, minimize campfire impact, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others.

About the National Park by month Series

To put together this list, we’ve combined our personal experiences and tips we gathered from locals and cross-referenced them with the weather, accessibility, local forums, seasonal attractions like fall foliage or wildflowers, and special events happening in the area. We also considered any unique adventures only offered at certain times of the year to find the most optimal months to visit each National Park. Phew! that was a lot!

It took me a whole week of research, but since I’m a maximizer, it was completely worth having a year-round calendar of adventures (publishing that soon!). Also, check out our complete list of all the national parks and all national park units that include soon-to-be national parks.

We also chose not to include the hardest-to-access national parks in Alaska and the ones in U.S. territories in this series.

National Parks By Month – Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul

Is March a Good Time to Visit National Parks?

Yes! If you’re not picky about visiting a specific national park, you can always find a park to explore any time of year. March is a great time to visit parks when they are quieter, and we love the parks like White Sands, which are scorching hot in the summer.

Plan on visiting more than two national parks this year? Pick up an America the Beautiful annual pass to save money (entrance fees to each park are, on average, $30-35 per vehicle). Plus, you are helping support the Parks that always need funding.

7 Best National Parks to Visit in March

1. Great Smoky Mountain National Park, North Carolina & Tennessee

2 Everett St, Bryson City, NC 28713map

Average Temperatures: 54°F / 27°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 7:19 AM / 7:15 PM

Why Visit: March brings mild temperatures and lower humidity, making it a great time to hike. Wildflowers start blooming, and animals come out of hibernation. On top of that, March is the shoulder season, so it’ll be less busy. If you’re going for wildflowers, April is typically better, and they host their annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Camping, Scenic Drives, Biking, Wildflowers

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Charlies Bunion, Alum Cave Bluffs, Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway
  • Wildlife – Elk, Black Bears, Bobcats, Whitetail Deer, Coyote, Pygmy Shrew
  • How many days do you need? 2-4

Pro Tip: To avoid crowds, get out of the car and take longer hikes. You’ll still see people, but they will be much fewer than easy to get to spots.

See Related – 11 Can’t Miss Things to Do in Pigeon Forge TN

2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas

400 Pine Canyon Dr, Salt Flat, TX 79847map

Average Temperatures: 53°F / 30°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:44 AM / 6:39 PM

Why Visit: Wildflower season starts in March in Guadalupe Mountains National Park. The weather is excellent for hiking, too, and you can keep your eyes out for wildlife coming out of hibernation.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Scenic Drives, Horseback Riding

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Smith Spring Trail, Devil’s Hall Trail, McKittrick Canyon, Guadalupe Peak Trail
  • Wildlife – Coyote, Mountain Lion, Bobcat, Badger, Texas Banded Gecko, Bats, Javelinas, Jackrabbits, Rattlesnake
  • How many days do you need? 1-3

Pro Tip: Be prepared to hike; otherwise, you’ll miss out on the best spots in the park.

See Related – 11 Breathtaking Canyons in the US You Can’t Miss

things to do in guadalupe mountains national parkPin

3. Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas

629 Central Ave, Hot Springs National Park, AR 71901, map

Average Temperatures: 64°F / 40°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times:
6:58 AM / 5:54 PM

Why Visit: Although winter is the best time to take advantage of the warm springs, March is still a great time to visit. The weather is still cool enough to soak and warm enough to explore the trails and changing seasons.

Best For / Top Activities: Soaking in Springs, Hiking, Birdwatching, Scenic Drives

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Buckstaff Bathhouse, Quapaw Bathhouse, The Display Spring, Hot Water Cascade
  • Wildlife – White-Tailed Deer, Groundhog, Black Bear, Bats, Song Birds
  • How many days do you need? 1-3

Pro Tip: You can only soak in the two bathhouses, not the outdoor thermal springs.

Hot Springs National Park Arkansas + 25 Best Hot Springs in the US to Soak InPin

4. Joshua Tree National Park, Californiaㅤ→

6554 Park Blvd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252, map

Average Temperatures: 74°F / 43°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:29 AM / 6:24 PM

Why Visit: March is the last good month to go rock climbing in Joshua Tree. Starting in April, it’s way too hot. For those who don’t climb, the park is less interesting than other national parks, but it’s still worth visiting once. Plus, you may catch wildflowers in March!

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Backpacking, Stargazing, Camping, Scenic Drives, Climbing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Arch Rock, Cholla Cactus Garden, Halls of Horror, Skull Rock
  • Wildlife – Bobcat, Mountain Lion, Coyote, Gray Fox, Desert Kit Fox, Black Bear, Bighorn Sheep, Desert Cottontail
  • How many days do you need? 1 or 2-3 if you climb

Pro Tip: Campgrounds fill up quickly during cooler weather.

See Related – 11 Amazing Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park

5. Pinnacles National Park, California

5000 CA-146, Paicines, CA 95043, map

Average Temperatures: 65°F / 35°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:57 AM / 5:47 PM

Why Visit: Pinnacles National Park is much more popular during the cooler months since summer is so hot. March is a great time to hike, rock climb, see wildlife, and see the blooming wildflowers. Although it’s a busier time, the overall park visitation is manageable since it’s one of the lesser-known National Parks in the US.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Climbing, Wildlife Viewing, Camping

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Talus Cave, Bear Guild, Balconies Cave, Rim Trail Loop, High Peaks Loop
  • Wildlife – Canyon Bats, Mountain Lions, Condors, Feral Pig, Bobcat, Gray Fox, Ringtail
  • How many days do you need? 1-3

Pro Tip: Pinnacles National Park has two separate entrances far from each other. Plan accordingly based on what you want to see!

Pinnacles National Park TrailsPin

6. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

1 Crater Rim Drive, Volcano, HI 96785, map

Average Temperatures: 67°F / 50°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:28 AM / 6:30 PM

Why Visit: While it still may be cold in most of the US, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is warm year-round. March is an especially great time to visit to see the active volcanoes. It’s also less crowded since it’s shoulder season.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Scenic Drives, Stargazing

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Lava Flow, Kilauea Iki Trail, Thurston Lava Tube, Crater Rim Drive, Mauna Loa
  • Wildlife – Hawaiian Hoary Bat, Hawksbill Turtles, Green Sea Turtles, Hawaiian Monk Seal
  • How many days do you need? 2-4

Local Tip: Check the website and visitor center for updated eruption viewing info.

Big Island Hawaii Volcanoes National Park + Your Complete List of the National Parks in the USAPin

7. White Sands National Park, New Mexico →

19955 US-70, Alamogordo, NM 88310, map

Average Temperatures: 71°F / 32°F
Average Sunrise / Sunset Times: 6:49 AM / 5:49 PM

Why Visit: Warm days and cool nights make March a great time to visit White Sands. March is shoulder season, which means fewer visitors.

Best For / Top Activities: Hiking, Bicycling, Backcountry Camping, Photography, Stargazing, Sledding

Don’t Miss:

  • To Do – Sledding, Dune Life Nature Trail, Alkali Flat Trail, Playa Trail
  • Wildlife – American Badger, Apache Pocket Mouse, Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Bobcat, Coyote, Kit Fox
  • How many days do you need? 1-3

Pro Tip: Check for trail markers since it’s easy to feel disoriented on dunes. We got lost and had to find our way back using the direction of the sunset.

See Related – 5 Incredible Things to Do at White Sands National Park

Map of the Best National Parks to Visit in March

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Want to See More National Parks to Visit in March?

If you’re a national park lover like us and have done many of the above, here are some more ideas for National Parks to visit in March. While March may not be the top two months of the year to visit these parks, they are still worth a visit.

saguaro cactus national parkPin

Tips for Visiting the Best National Parks in March

  • Explore the parks responsibly using the Leave no Trace principles. Stay on established trails, carry out anything you carry in, etc. Please read through it, and help us protect the parks.
  • Pick up the National Park Annual Pass if you plan on visiting multiple parks within the year. It saves you a lot of money. We always get one.
  • Download Alltrails+ and offline google maps so you can have trail maps offline.
  • Want to see wildflowers? We typically go onto the geotag on Instagram or Tiktok and scroll through all the recent posts to see what it’s looking like. Keep in mind that people post older content, so I like to look at the grid or ones that non-influencers are posting. You can also leave a comment and ask when they went.
  • It’s always a good idea to pack layers wherever you go. Some parks are warm during the day and cool at night. Pay attention to the elevation change too! Some parks will be warm on the valley floor and cold at higher elevations.
  • You may need a reservation. See national parks that now require reservations here.
  • Always check the park’s site and Visitors Center for the most up-to-date information on closures.
  • Remember that wildlife is wild. Be familiar with how to interact with animals and how much space you should have between you and them.
Saguaro Cactus in Sunset + 11 Beautiful Things to Do in Saguaro National Park ArizonaPin

What to Pack

How you will pack depends on which park you visit and the activities you plan, but here is a general guide on items we always try to pack.

FAQs

Is Zion National park cold in March?

The days are warm, but the nights are cold in March. Layers will be key to staying comfortable throughout the day.

Is March a good time to visit Rocky Mountain National Park?

If you like snow, March is the snowiest month in RMNP. The weather will be milder than in January and February, making it a great time to snowshoe, ice skate, and sled.

Is March a good time to visit Utah National Parks?

March is a great time to visit Utah National Parks since daytime temperatures will be warmer and night times won’t be as frigid. Crowds will start to pick up as the weather gets better.

How is Bryce Canyon in March? How warm is Bryce Canyon in March?

Bryce Canyon is still cold in March, with average highs of 45°F and lows of 23°F. It will also be snowy, with an average accumulation of 17 inches.

What is Grand Canyon like in March?

March in the Grand Canyon is still cool, with average high temperatures of 55°F and lows of 22°F on the South Rim.

Can you hike Zion in March?

Yes! Although there may be some snow and ice so certain trails will be more accessible than others.

What is the hardest national park to visit?

The hardest National Park to visit is Gates of the Arctic National Park. There are no roads or trails, and you can only reach the park via plane or foot.

What is the most unpopular national park?

Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is the most unpopular national park because it’s the least accessible.

What is the 2 most-visited national park?

Great Smoky Mountains National Park got 14.1 million visitors in 2021, with Zion National Park coming in second at just over 5 million visitors. See the full list of most to least visited national parks.

Recap of the 7 Best National Parks to Visit in March

March is a beautiful time to explore the National Parks. Here is a recap of the best national parks to visit in March.

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  2. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
  3. Hot Springs National Park
  4. Joshua Tree National Park
  5. Pinnacles National Park
  6. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  7. White Sands National Park

National Parks By Month – Aug | Sep | Oct | Nov | Dec | Jan | Feb | Mar | Apr | May | Jun | Jul

Can you think of others that belong on this list of best National Parks to visit in March? Which ones are we missing?

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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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