With winter coming to an end, March is a transition month for the Grand Canyon. As the temperatures begin to warm and the snow starts to melt, many tourists start planning trips back. So, I often get asked the question, is March is a good time to visit the Grand Canyon?
The answer depends on what you plan on doing in the Grand Canyon, your tolerance for cold weather, and which rim you plan on visiting. In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about visiting the Grand Canyon in March, so you’ll know exactly what to expect.
Is the Grand Canyon Open in March?
The Grand Canyon is open in March. However, only the south and west rims accept visitors. The Grand Canyon’s north rim doesn’t open until May because of the snow buildup.
The north rim is usually only open from mid-May through mid-October, although the dates do vary slightly every year. Both the south and west rims are open 365 days a year.
How Busy does the Grand Canyon get?
March is the perfect time to visit the Grand Canyon because it doesn’t get as busy as it does during the summer. The Grand Canyon is still a bit cold in early March so it’s doesn’t attract as many tourists.
By the end of the month, visitor volume does start to pick up. So if you’re looking to avoid crowds, I would recommend you visit in early March before spring break starts. At that time the weather is just beginning to warm up but there aren’t mobs of people ruining your experience.
Grand Canyon March Weather – Does it Get Cold?
The average March temperature at the Grand Canyon is around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with the weather getting progressively warmer as the month goes on. Temperatures during the day can get as high as 55 degrees, while nighttime temps can drop as low as 25 (high of 12 degrees Celsius, low of -4 degrees Celsius).
Inside the canyon itself, temperatures are roughly 15-20 degrees warmer than they are at the top. The sun also helps to warm the air inside the canyon. You can expect there to be about 6 days of rain/snow in the month of March as well.
Does it snow at the Grand Canyon?
December, January, and February are always the coldest months of the year at the Grand Canyon, but the first few weeks of March can be cold as well. Snowfall is not uncommon in early March however, the chances of snow decrease later in the month.
What to Wear to the Grand Canyon in March
I highly recommend that you pack winter clothes for the Grand Canyon. Although it’s located in a desert, the canyon gets cold. Unexpected snow often confuses tourists and ruins travel plans. Make sure that you are prepared for any weather condition that the Grand Canyon can throw at you by packing the following items:
- Long sleeve shirts
- Winter jackets or sweatshirts
- Boots or waterproof shoes
Things to do in March at the Grand Canyon
There are a lot of things to do at the Grand Canyon. Most of the attractions that are open in the summer are also open in the colder months. Here are some of the key events Grand Canyon National Park is known for, along with the most popular activities and sites to see.
See the Skywalk on the West Rim
The Skywalk is found on the Grand Canyon’s west rim (which actually isn’t part of Grand Canyon National Park). The view offered from this glass bridge is unbeatable.
You can see directly into the canyon floor thousands of feet below as you stand 70 feet out over the side of the west rim. Although it’s made of glass, the Skybridge is one of the safest ways to enjoy the canyon.
South Rim Visitor Center
The visitor center at the south rim of the Grand Canyon is basically the equivalent of the west rim’s Skybridge. While there aren’t any cool glass structures to walk on, the views are equally as impressive.
It’s the perfect staging area to get to other parts of the canyon. You can also get some information about tours in the area.
Tusayan Museum and Ruin
You can learn about Native American culture at the Tusayan Museum, which is located a few miles from the visitor center. This museum is an exhibit about Native American artifacts and culture. The artifacts here were made by the tribes that lived in the canyon 2,000-4,000 years ago.
If you’re interested in the history of the Grand Canyon, this is a must-see exhibit. You’ll learn a lot about the canyon and the people that used to inhabit the land.
Jump on a Guided Tour
If it’s your first time visiting the Grand Canyon, it may be worthwhile to hop on a guided tour. Tour guides can fill you in on the history of the canyon, and show you things that you would otherwise miss.
Also, if you want to visit restricted areas located on Navajo Indian Tribal Lands (like Antelope Canyon), you’re going to need to sign up for a guided tour.
Watch the Sunset
One of my favorite things to do at Grand Canyon National Park is to watch the sunset. There’s really no bad place to watch the sunset at the Grand Canyon, but some locations are better than others.
If you’re on the south rim, I highly recommend Mathers Point (although it can get crowded). Hopi Point is another excellent spot to catch the sun setting.
Watch the Sunrise
If you’re going to watch the sunset in the canyon, you might as well watch it rise too. Sunrises are one of the events Grand Canyon National Park is famous for.
Both the aforementioned sunset spots are good for sunrises, but you can also try Yaki Point, Navajo Point, or Lipan Point if you want to check out some new areas.
Take some Trips into the Inner Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the best places to hike in the country. There are plenty of hiking trails in the canyon that make for some awesome adventures. The best views are found on these trails, so you can’t travel to the Grand Canyon without seeing them:
- Rim Trail
- Hermit Trail
- Grandview Trail
- Bright Angel Trail
My favorite trail on the south rim is the South Kaibab Trail that stops at Ooh Aah Point, but any hiking trail in this national park is worth visiting.
Observe the Wildlife
The Grand Canyon is a national park with a diverse range of wildlife. There are hundreds of species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects in the park. Some of the more interesting animals found in the canyon include bison, elk, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, condors, owls, and hawks.
When viewing wildlife in the canyon, it’s important to note that the animals are not accustomed to people and therefore unpredictable. You do not want to get too close as they may become aggressive. It’s also illegal to feed the animals in any national park.
Rafting in the Grand Canyon during March
If you’re looking to go rafting on the Colorado River, there are tours available in March. Rafting in the canyon is a bucket list experience that I highly recommend. The water is going to be very cold this time of year, but you won’t have any trouble making a reservation.
Along with the south rim and west rim, Bryce Canyon Nation Park is also open. While it isn’t part of the Grand Canyon, it can be used as a replacement for the northern rim (since it’s not open). Bryce Canyon is about 6 hours north of the Grand Canyon. However, it’s only 4 hours from Las Vegas if you’re coming from that direction.
If you’re looking for somewhere to eat, there are a few shops and restaurants located in the small town of Tusayan a couple of miles south of the canyon. There’s also a cool Imax theater there that plays a feature film about the secrets of the Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon Travel – Where to Stay
Since the park is far from any major city, every Grand Canyon trip requires that you find lodging for the night. Here are some of the best places to stay when you’re at the Grand Canyon.
If you’re taking your RV to the Grand Canyon, the best place to stay is Trailer Village RV Park. The park is only a half-mile from the canyon, so it makes for an easy hike.
This is the only RV campground with hookups at the south rim, so spaces fill up quickly. I recommend you book your site a few weeks in advance to avoid any issues.
You can also go camping for free on dispersed camping sites on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management). These sites are completely free and located only a few files from the canyon. You can stay at these campsites for a maximum of 14 days.
El Tovar Hotel
El Tovar is one of the many lodges located in the national park. This hotel first opened in 1905, so it has a lot of history. There are 78 rooms and suites, all designed with unique wall art. Like many of the lodges in the park, El Tova is only half a mile from the canyon.
The lodge offers complimentary self-parking and in-room dining. If you prefer to eat in the dining room you can do that as well.
Bright Angel Lodge and Cabins
Bright Angel Lodge was designed in 1935, so it has a clear rustic feel. The lodge and its surrounding cabins have been renovated many times over the years. Bright Angel Lodge is located near the El Tovar Hotel, so it’s very closed to the edge of the Grand Canyon.
There are 90 total units available for rent (be aware that some of them have shared bathrooms). Please note that this canyon lodge is non-smoking.
Phantom Ranch can be found on the floor of the Grand Canyon. This is the only lodge located below the canyon rim. There is limited space at Phantom Ranch, and there are no phones or televisions. If you’re visiting the canyon as part of a group, you’re able to rent out an entire cabin here.
The property also discourages young children from hiking to the ranch because of how remote the location is. If you’re looking for a unique canyon experience, Phantom Ranch is the place to stay.
Holiday Inn Express
The Holiday Inn Express is one of about half a dozen traditional hotels located outside the park in Tusayan (about a 10-minute drive from the canyon). The hotel has an indoor pool, hot tub, free Wi-Fi, TVs, and breakfast.
Since this is one of the few hotels near the Grand Canyon, the rooms tend to book quickly. I recommend that you make your reservation a few months in advance.
Canyon Plaza Resort
The Canyon Plaza Resort can be found near the Holiday Inn Express a few miles from the south entrance to the canyon. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, TVs, a pool, a fitness center, laundry facilities, and a shuttle to Grand Canyon Airport.
There is also an excellent on-site bar and restaurant that offers steaks, seafood, and burgers. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are offered every day.
Best Western Premier
The Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire is one of the best resorts near the Grand Canyon. Like the other properties mentioned, this hotel is only about a 10-minute drive from the canyon entrance. They offer 250 large non-smoking rooms, along with plenty of amenities.
Some of the amenities here include free Wi-Fi, free cable TV, a state-of-the-art fitness center, 4 on-site restaurants, an indoor pool, a hot tub, and a gaming room with billiards, bowling, and an arcade. The front desk can also help provide some information about local tours.
The hotel is located in the town of Tusayan, so it’s only a few miles from the canyon. This is one of the best-reviewed hotels in the area.
The Grand Canyon is definitely worth visiting in the spring. The only issue is the weather. The Grand Canyon in March weather report may include some snow. Snow is actually quite beautiful to see in the canyon, but it causes logistical problems for many visitors.
If the cooler weather isn’t a big issue for you, I highly recommend visiting the south rim and west rim (the north rim is still closed until May). You can completely avoid winter temperatures at the canyon by waiting until April or May to visit, however, the crowds will start coming back to the park by then.