Wondering where to travel for spring break? Or looking for travel inspiration for American National Parks in March? This guide should give you plenty of ideas. Take a look!
March is a shoulder season weather-wise. In some places, it’s still very wintery and too cold or too wet to enjoy the outdoors. But there are also many destinations where March weather is perfect for outdoor activities. In some National Parks, early spring is one of the best seasons to be there!
March is a great month to visit some of the most popular American National Parks, especially those areas that are too hot in the summer. So whether you are looking for spring break ideas or a quiet nature getaway, there are plenty of choices.
In this article, we feature a selection of some amazing American National Parks to visit in March with tips for visiting them in early spring. Why go at this time of the year, what kind of weather to expect, and what to know. Find out!
READ ALSO: Best Spring Break Destinations in the USA
TIP: Several of these National Parks are located close to each other and can be easily visited in one trip. So to help you plan your trip, we also included some tips for which parks you can best visit together. If you make a longer road trip, you can cover even more places in the southern states!
PRO TIP: If you are planning to visit several National Parks in the US over a period of 12 months, get an annual pass! It’s called America the Beautiful Pass and costs 80 USD for the whole family traveling in the same vehicle. It is valid in all National Parks and 2,000 federal recreation sites across the United States for one year from the month of purchase. To give you an idea, an entrance fee to one park is around 35 USD, so if you are visiting more than two parks, this is a great deal!
For this selection, we chose those National Parks where March is one of the absolute best months to go. Take a look!
These are some of the best National Parks to visit in March:
1. Arches National Park
- Where: Utah
- March temperatures: 34-60°F (1-16°C)
- Where to stay: There’s no lodging inside the park. Moab town is just nearby and has plenty of accommodation options for all budgets. See our guide to Moab hotels.
Arches National Park is a great year-round destination, but spring is the best time to be in the park weather-wise. In March, visitor numbers in Arches start to increase exponentially (about 3-4 times more than in February). Nevertheless, it’s still very quiet compared to April or May, not even to mention the summer months…
March is a perfect month to visit Arches for those who want to experience the park to the fullest but with fewer people around. In winter, you can have snow on the trails and in summer, temperatures climb well over 100°F (43°C) making it hard to do any hiking. Whereas mild spring temperatures mean that all the trails are usually open, easily accessible, and you can embark on any hike in the park without having to worry about the weather.
But even if you don’t hike, visiting Arches in March is more relaxing than in the high season as you can enjoy the best scenic spots along Arches Scenic Drive without the crowds.
If you can avoid weekends during spring break and luck out with the weather, March can be one of the very best times to visit Arches.
TIP: Don’t miss the Delicate Arch trail! Also, make sure to visit the nearby Canyonlands National Park that’s also great at this time of the year.
LEARN MORE: Best things to do in Arches National Park
2. Biscayne National Park
- Where: Florida
- March temperatures: 67-78 °F (19-26°C)
- Where to stay: There’s no lodging inside the park, only a few campsites. But there are plenty of hotels in Miami (stay south of the city!) and also a few in Homestead.
Biscayne National Park comprises several islands, coral reefs, and shoreline mangrove forests. The park is a maritime paradise with a variety of fauna including dolphins, turtles, and pelicans. But there’s also history, shipwrecks, and water activities.
You can opt for a cruise to Boca Chita Key and visit Boca Chita Lighthouse. You can paddle the mangroves, go snorkeling, fishing, or dive to see shipwrecks.
Together with Dry Tortugas and Everglades (see further below), Biscayne is one of the best National Parks to visit in March! It’s one of the driest months, the hurricane season is over, and the seas are calmer than in winter.
Located in southern Florida, just 20 miles south of Miami, Biscayne National Park is only accessible by boat. In fact, 95% of this National Park is underwater so the best way to explore is by taking a boat/ kayak/ sailing/ snorkeling tour. There’s a big variety of tours available, from a few hours to the entire day. Most tours start at Dante Fascell Visitor Center in Homestead, FL (more info), but there are also tours from Miami that explore Biscayne Bay.
TIP: Combine your visit here with that of Everglades and Dry Tortugas!
3. Big Bend National Park
- Where: Texas
- March temperatures: 50-70 °F (10-21°C)
- Where to stay: Chisos Mountains Lodge inside the park or Lajitas Golf Resort and Terlingua Ranch Lodge nearby. Book well in advance because March is the busiest season here!
March is the absolute peak season in Big Bend National Park. The weather is perfect for hiking and it’s also the time of bluebonnet bloom season. The bloom typically starts in early March and lasts throughout the entire month. Depending on rainfall and temperatures, it can start in February already and last until mid-April.
There are lots of hiking trails, for all levels and at different elevations. Keep this in mind when choosing your hikes because temperatures in the Chihuahuan Desert will be incomparably warmer than those in the Chicos Mountain Range. In any case, make sure that you always carry plenty of water and have sun protection.
With perfect temperatures for outdoor activities and spring break in many schools and universities in Texas, this is the busiest time of the year at Big Bend. Anticipate busy roads, full campgrounds, longer lines at the entrance stations/visitor centers, and more people on the trails.
But don’t despair! Book in advance, start your days early and venture a bit off the beaten path. With some advance planning, you can avoid the busiest weekends when most schools are out and can enjoy Big Bend NP as in no other season!
TIP: Don’t miss the Hot Springs at Big Bend!
4. Death Valley National Park
- Where: California
- March temperatures: 55-82°F (13-28°C)
- Where to stay: There are just a few accommodations inside the park: The Ranch at Death Valley and The Inn at Death Valley. Many people opt to stay in Las Vegas and visit Death Valley with a day tour. In fact, this is one of the most popular day trips from Vegas, especially in the cooler months.
March is one of the best months to visit Death Valley National Park before the summer heat makes a visit here unbearable. It can already get quite warm during the day, but the nights and the mornings are still cool making it a perfect time of the year to explore Death Valley deeper.
The chance of seeing the superbloom of yellow wildflowers is another great reason to visit Death Valley in March! Depending on the rainfall and temperatures, flowers might start to bloom in the second half of February at lower elevations already. But coming in March, gives you a better chance to see them in different areas in the park.
There’s a lot more to see and do in Death Valley than it looks at first sight and if you hike, you can easily spend a few days here. But also if you don’t hike, you can see a lot just by driving the scenic roads and stopping at the most impressive viewpoints.
TIP: Don’t miss Furnace Creek, Zabriskie Point, Dante’s View, and Artist’s Drive!
LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Death Valley National Park
5. Dry Tortugas National Park
- Where: Florida
- March temperatures: 67-78 °F (19-26°C)
- Where to stay: There’s no lodging in Dry Tortugas; you can only camp here. Most people stay in Key West and visit this National Park as a day trip.
Dry Tortugas National Park comprises of seven small islands with sandy beaches, coral reefs, and rich marine life. It’s a great place for swimming and snorkeling and to spot sea turtles! The main island that everyone visits is Garden Key. It’s home to the historic Fort Jefferson, one of the largest 19th-century forts in the United States.
Dry Tortugas National Park is one of the best National Parks to visit in March! The hurricane season is over and the rougher seas of the winter months have usually calmed down by now. It’s also one of the driest months making a visit to Florida more pleasant.
It will come as no surprise that March is also one of the most popular months for Dry Tortugas. Because getting there requires a boat or a seaplane, visitor numbers at Dry Tortugas remain pretty constant during the entire year. But if you are visiting in the peak season (February to April) and want to be sure that you can get there, you’ll have to book your tour well in advance!
TIP: The easiest way to visit Dry Tortugas is with an organized catamaran tour from Key West, Florida. Also, combine your visit here with that of Biscayne National Park (see above) and Everglades (see further below)!
6. White Sands National Park
- Where: New Mexico
- March temperatures: 32-71 °F (0-20°C)
- Where to stay: The best town to stay in is Alamogordo, just a short drive from the park.
White Sands National Park is another favorite in March! In fact, March is the busiest month of the year here, but the crowds here are nothing compared to the bigger parks. With sunny days and cool evenings, spring weather is perfect for exploring the park.
The only drawback is that spring also brings higher winds, but that’s also what makes a visit here even more special. You can see some incredible shifting sand creations swept by the wind…
White Sands National Park is quite small and you can see it all in one day. The scenic loop drive is just 16 miles round trip from the visitor center. You can also opt to do some hiking here. If you are visiting for spring break and it’s busy, often you just have to walk a few minutes further from the main areas to find stunning spots with no footsteps in the sand.
TIP: You can best combine several National Parks and make a road trip in this area. Guadalupe Mountains NP and Carlsbad Caverns NP (see below) are good places to visit (relatively) close by. If you are in the area for a few days, try to pick the least windy day for a visit to White Sands; it doesn’t matter that much for the other parks.
7. Guadalupe Mountains National Park
- Where: Texas
- March temperatures: Average 40-60°F (5-15°C), but a big difference depending on elevation.
- Where to stay: There’s no lodging inside the park, only a few campsites. The closest town to stay in is Carlsbad, NM about 50miles/50 min drive.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park is one of the lesser-visited National Parks in the U.S. March is one of the absolute best months to be here! Temperatures are generally warm and mild, there’s hardly any rainfall, and the weather is perfect for hiking.
Visitor numbers are significantly higher in March than in winter or in summer. March, April, and May are the most popular months to visit the Guadalupe Mountains. Still, because the park is quite off the beaten path, it’s not really a place that ever gets very busy.
Visiting the Guadalupe Mountains in March means that you can truly enjoy its hiking trails that are simply too warm to tackle in the summer months. The highlight is the Guadalupe Peak trail that brings you to the highest place in Texas. Devil’s Hall Trail and McKittrick Canyon Trail are nice, shorter hikes. Here you can find information for hiking in Guadalupe Mountains NP.
TIP: Combine your visit to Guadalupe Mountains National Park with that of Carlsbad Caverns National Park (see below). Carlsbad, NM is where you’d stay for both parks.
8. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
- Where: New Mexico
- March temperatures: 40-72°F (4-22°C)
- Where to stay: There are several good accommodation options in Carlsbad town.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park features more than 119 underground caves and can be visited the whole year round. But because outside temperatures are mild, the spring months are the best time to be here. March can get quite busy because of spring break, so try to avoid the weekends.
The National Park is located about 20 miles/ 25 minutes drive south of Carlsbad, NM. The main place to visit is the show cave called Carlsbad Cavern that requires an entrance ticket. Your annual NPs pass is valid here as well, but you’ll have to pass the ticket counter to get a free admission ticket.
You can either take an elevator to the cave from the visitor center (Big Room Trail) or hike to the natural entrance (Natural Entrance Trail). Parts of Big Room Trail are wheelchair-accessible too.
But there’s more to do here than just the famous caves! You can join ranger-guided tours, watch thousands of bats emerge from the caves, go hiking, or star-gazing. For more practical info, check here.
9. Saguaro National Park
- Where: Arizona
- March temperatures: 45-75°F (8-24°C)
- Where to stay: Tucson town is the best place to stay. It’s located right in between the two parts of the park, allowing you to base yourself in one place and easily explore the park from there.
March is one of the last best months to visit Saguaro National Park before it gets too hot in Southern Arizona. It’s also a good month to see blooming cacti as many varieties start to bloom in March already. However, the famous saguaro cacti that gave name to the park usually only bloom in late May.
Saguaro National Park is located near Tucson, AZ, and has two separate areas not connected to each other: Saguaro West and Saguaro East. Saguaro West (Tucson Mountains) is generally considered more beautiful and it’s easier to get to, thus busier. Saguaro East (Rincon Mountains) is also very nice and it is easier to avoid the crowds here.
The best way to explore the park is by taking a hike. There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from for all difficulty levels. Popular short trails are Signal Hill Trail (West) and Mica View Loop (East). Don’t miss the scenic Bajada Loop.
TIP: You can make a road trip and easily combine a visit to Saguaro with that of the Grand Canyon. Also Phoenix and Scottsdale are just nearby and Sedona, about halfway between Saguaro and the Grand Canyon is well worth a visit as well. You can also see the main highlights of Sedona in a day.
In fact, there are so many amazing places to see in Arizona and March is a great time of the year for exploring!
10. Everglades National Park
- Where: Florida
- March temperatures: 67-78 °F (19-26°C)
- Where to stay: Most people stay in Miami and visit Everglades as a day trip. Guided day tours are also available. If you are planning to visit the northern side of the park, you can also opt to stay in Everglades City.
The dry winter months November through April are the best ones to visit Everglades National Park! In March, you can expect clear skies and low humidity. Another huge advantage of visiting in this season is that there are virtually no mosquitoes allowing you to truly enjoy your visit!
This is also a good time to see wildlife in Everglades. As water levels drop, animals gather around the remaining waterholes making it easy to see them and in large numbers. It’s also a great time to see a big variety of birds.
If you are planning to visit Everglades in the dry season, make sure to plan ahead of time and make reservations. It’s the busiest time of the year here, also because Florida is a very popular spring break destination.
The most popular thing to do in Everglades is take an airboat tour to spot wildlife. You can also go hiking, biking, or even rent a canoe and explore the mangroves on your own.
TIP: As already mentioned, you can combine a visit to Everglades with a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park and also Biscayne National Park.
11. Joshua Tree National Park
- Where: California
- March temperatures: 45-75°F (6-23°C)
- Where to stay: There’s no lodging in the park, so unless you camp, it’s best to stay in 29 Palms, a small town right outside the north entrance.
One of the most popular American national parks, Joshua Tree National Park can be visited the whole year. But the spring months are the most popular time of the year to be here. March is the absolute peak season in Joshua Tree NP!
The weather is perfect for exploring all areas of the park and for outdoor activities. Furthermore, spring often brings a carpet of wildflowers, with March being the peak month to see them.
Cool nights and clear skies are also perfect for stargazing in the desert. During the day, you can go hiking, biking, rock climbing, or horse riding. March is also a good month to see a big variety of birds.
Joshua Tree NP has lots of hiking trails for all difficulty levels. And while many of them aren’t recommended in the summer heat, spring months are the best time for exploring the park to the fullest!
12. Hot Springs National Park
- Where: Arkansas
- March temperatures: 40-64°F (5-18°C)
- Where to stay: Hot Springs town has plenty of accommodation options.
Hot Springs National Park is a somewhat unusual park since many of its main attractions are historic bathhouses located right in the middle of town sharing the same name. In addition, you’ll find forest hiking trails, numerous creeks, mountain views, and thermal springs.
Hot thermal waters are the park’s primary draw. In combination with outdoor activities, the shoulder season is the best time to be here. In fall or spring, the weather is the most pleasant to enjoy the geothermal baths and explore the area. And while you can also visit the baths in the summer, who needs a warm hot tub when it’s over 100°F outside…
For a soak, you can choose one of the historic bathhouses lining Bathhouse Row. Also, don’t miss the beautifully restored Fordyce Bathhouse Visitor Center and the Buckstaff Bathhouse. A visit to the visitor center will help you better understand the history of Hot Springs. Bonus, it’s free of charge.
If you like to hike, check out a variety of hiking trails in the area! The nicest and the longest hike in the park is the Sunset Trail loop (15-17 miles), but you can also just do a part of it. Sugarloaf Mountain (2.6 miles) is one of the most popular sections.
13. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Where: Island of Hawai’i (Big Island)
- March temperatures: 68-82°F (20-28°C)
- Where to stay: You can stay anywhere on the island and easily visit the National Park from there. Just be sure to book your accommodations well in advance because March is a popular time in Hawaii.
Big Island has a warm and tropical climate and is a year-round destination. However, for somewhat cooler weather for sightseeing, March is a good month to be here. And while it can rain just a bit more, there are just 2 days of rainfall on average. The perfect time to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!
The park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa. In the past, you could see lava flowing here. But after the most recent eruption, it’s no longer visible on the surface. Nevertheless, there are many other reasons to visit and a lot to see and do in the park.
You can see endless lava fields, stunning coastlines where lave tumbled into the ocean, and impressive natural creations made by lava flows. You can visit a lava tube, see Hawaiian petroglyphs, or simply drive the scenic Crater Rim Drive and admire the scenery around you. This area has some of the most unique natural landscapes in the USA!
TIP: March is also a great season for whale watching, especially Humpback Whales. If you’re interested in beautiful nature and whales, you may want to check out Maui Island, home to the Haleakalā National Park!
14. Virgin Islands National Park
- Where: Virgin Islands NP is on the Island of St. John (U.S. Virgin Islands)
- March temperatures: 75-85 °F (25-28°C)
- Where to stay: There are several nice resorts and self-catering accommodations on St. John Island.
Virgin Islands National Park is a wonderful year-round destination, but the peak season here is from December to April. Winter months have less rain and the chances for tropical storms are low. On the other hand, you can expect stronger winds. March is a great time to visit if you are looking for some warmth and sunshine after a long dark winter at home.
Virgin Islands National Park takes up two-thirds of St. John Island, making it a wonderful destination for everyone who loves pristine nature destinations! But this park is so much more than just azure-blue waters and beautiful beaches!
In addition to amazing coral reefs and rich marine life, you’ll also find a variety of hiking trails. It’s also a great place to learn more about sugar plantations and the history of the area. And you can even visit the ancient petroglyphs carved by the Taino Indians.
TIP: March is one of the busiest months here, so make sure to book your accommodation well in advance! The Westin St. John Resort Villas is one of the nicer hotels on St. John. You can also stay on the nearby St Thomas Island (it has a bigger choice of accommodations) and visit St. John as a day trip. The ferry between the two islands only takes 20 minutes.
LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Saint John, US Virgin Islands
15. Rocky Mountain National Park
- Where: Colorado
- March temperatures: 25-45°F (-5-8°C)
- Where to stay: There’s no lodging inside the park. Estes Park is the best town with plenty of accommodation choices for all budgets (see our guide to Estes Park lodging).
Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place to visit in March for those looking for a colder destination. It’s also a perfect family-friendly winter getaway for spring break! And because it’s low season here, accommodation prices are really affordable.
March still sees a lot of snow in Colorado, but also beautiful sunny days – perfect for winter activities without having to endure extreme winter temperatures. It’s also a great month to see wildlife that comes to graze at the lower altitudes. In Estes Park in March, you are very likely to see elk and mule deer, sometimes also bighorn sheep or even coyotes.
Hidden Valley is a popular area for sledding and the YMCA of the Rockies also has ice skating. In fact, this is a great hotel for families with lots of outdoor activities and a heated indoor pool available! And while not all the roads are open yet, the park is accessible and you can see a lot. Even a part of the famous Trail Ridge Road is usually plowed.
Snowshoeing is one of the most popular things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park in winter and you’ll find plenty of stunning trails available. In March, you can also already expect to do some snow-free hiking; just look for the trails at lower elevations. For some suggestions, check out our Rocky Mountain National Park itinerary suggestions. But keep in mind that not everything is accessible this time of the year.
READ ALSO: Rocky Mountain National Park Day Trip from Denver
So, this is our selection with suggestions for some great National Parks to visit in early spring.
Obviously, there are many other incredible nature destinations and great National Parks to visit in March. But if you’re looking for ideas for where to go, I hope that you found plenty of inspiration in this article.
TIP: For more ideas for where to travel in spring, please also check our guide to the best National Parks to visit in April. Many of those parks are great in March as well!
More travel inspiration for American National Parks:
- National Parks to Visit in January
- National Parks to Visit in February
- National Parks to Visit in May
- National Parks to Visit in June
- National Parks to Visit in September
- National Parks to Visit in October
- National Parks to Visit in November
- National Parks to Visit in December
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Monday 16th of January 2023
This post was incredibly helpful, as I'm trying to plan a good road trip - spring break vacay for family (spouse, 3 boys, 2 grandparents) driving from Bixby, Oklahoma.
Monday 16th of January 2023
Glad to hear that you found some inspiration for your spring break, Michelle. Have a great trip!
Sunday 28th of February 2021
Thank you so much for this guide. I love national park vacations, but it is difficult to choose where and when.
Tuesday 2nd of March 2021
It is not easy indeed... Hope this helped you to find some travel inspiration!
Friday 27th of November 2020
We were in Grand Canyon in March last year and it was nice too. A bit cold, but not very busy. We visited just for a day from Vegas.
Friday 27th of November 2020
Oh, I'm sure it was nice indeed! Grand Canyon is one of those places you can visit any time of the year. It's always a bit different depending on the weather and the light, but always worth a trip! Thanks for sharing your experience, Cynthia. PS If anyone else is looking for tips, here you can find our guide to visiting Grand Canyon South Rim.