Visiting the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona during March is often a fantastic idea, as long as you’re prepared for inclement spring weather. As the canyon welcomes spring, you may encounter rain, snow, sunshine, or all of the above. Despite the often-cooler weather, you’ll be glad to visit during one of the more affordable shoulder-season months.
I have often been to the Grand Canyon, both the South and North Rim. However, during a recent (March 2021) visit to the South Rim, my father, friend, and I backpacked for two nights along the Tonto Trail inside the canyon.
Make sure to grab the brand new Lonely Planet Grand Canyon Guide (via Amazon) before you visit:
I can attest that the Grand Canyon is one of the most interesting places for curious visitors who want to learn more about this remarkable place which is a homeland and holy ground for multiple nations.
March is a crash course in microclimates; we experienced a snowstorm at the rim and sunny, t-shirt weather at the bottom.
Despite the chilly and quickly-changing winter weather, visiting the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in March is great. It’s a very good time as there are fewer visitors, and it is a perfect month for hiking.
Our tips will help you make the most of your March visit:
- Unique weather details
- Snow and rain
- What to wear
- Accommodation and camping
- Things to do
- Open/closed facilities | shuttles
Tip: If you are interested in seeing the West Rim’s Skywalk in March, read our recommendations at the end of the article. This article primarily features the South Rim and its attractions.
North Rim Access: In March, the North Rim is still closed to vehicle traffic until mid-May. The only way to visit is via hiking with a backcountry camping permit.
Weather in March
This is still one of the coldest months in the Grand Canyon, and though most days offer clear skies, you’ve got less than a 20% chance of precipitation.
The average high temperatures at the canyon’s South Rim are:
- Early March: 51°F (10°C)
- Mid-March: 54°F (12°C)
- Late March: 56°F (13°C)
In March, the average daytime high temperature in Grand Canyon National Park is 54°F (12°C). On a sunny day, you’ll feel much warmer, but on a cloudy or wet day, you’ll feel cold and may experience precipitation.
Snow and rain: On average, in March, it snows, rains, or sleets (a mixture of snow and rain) for four days in the Grand Canyon. However, the chance of a damp day decreases from 15% to 10% by the end of the month. Still, it’s best to prepare for a sudden weather change, as the canyon is still in its final winter days. If you’re cold, walk further into the canyon, where there is less precipitation.
Wind: March is one of the windier months of the year, especially at the top of the canyon, where the cool breezes will make you zip up your jacket. The good news is that winds calm down if you plan to walk deeper into the canyon, where the weather also warms up.
Good to know: Inside the canyon at lower elevations, it’s about 10-20°F degrees warmer. It also feels much warmer when you’re outside, and the sun is shining. You will warm up in the bright sunshine with the proper clothing and sun protection (read our tips below).
Early March Weather
We’ve defined “early March” as March 1-10. The average daytime high temperature for early March is 51°F (10°C), with frequent freezing temperatures at night and in the early morning and nearly-comfortable temperatures for about six hours per day.
Here are the average temperatures in early March:
- Early morning and night (10:00 p.m.-9:00 a.m.): 25°F (-4°C), frigid to freezing
- Mid-morning (9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.): 38°F (3°C), very cold
- Midday and afternoon (12:00-6:00 p.m.): 48-51°F (9-11°C), cool, sometimes pleasant
- Evening (6:00-10:00 p.m.): 38°F (3°C), very cold
However, though South Rim temperatures may experience freezing, snowy weather, the average daytime high temperature in early March is around 51°F (10°C), which can feel even warmer on a calm, sunny day. Additionally, the further you walk into the canyon, the warmer the air will feel.
In mid-March – March 10 to 20 – the average daytime high temperature in the afternoon is 54°F (12°C), with approximately eight daytime hours of cool, but not cold, air. Daytime temperatures can be more comfortable, especially if they are sunny and clear.
Here are the average temperatures in mid-March:
- Early morning and night (11:00 p.m.-9:00 a.m.): 31°F (-1°C), frigid to freezing
- Mid-morning (9:00-11:00 a.m.): 40-45°F (4-7°C), cold
- Midday and afternoon (11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.): 49-54°F (9-12°C), cool, sometimes pleasant
- Evening (7:00-11:00 p.m.): 42-31°F (6 to -1°C), cold, very cold
The South Rim does experience freezing temperatures and the occasional snowstorm, but daytime temperatures can be in the mid-50°F (10°C) degree range and higher. As always, the lower into the canyon you walk, the warmer and calmer the air.
Late March Weather
In the last ten days of the month, the average daytime high temperature is 56°F (13°C), with over eight hours of cool air before temperatures drop to freezing again around sunset. As always, sunshine increases the perceived temperature of the air.
Here are the average temperatures in late March:
- Early morning and night (12:00-8:30 a.m.): 32°F (0°C), frigid to very cold
- Morning (8:30-10:30 a.m.): 39-49°F (4-9°C), cold/cool
- Mid-morning and afternoon (10:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.): 51-56°F (11-13°C), pleasant, sometimes cool
- Evening (7:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.): 45-32°F (7-0°C), cold – very cold
During my late-March trip to the South Rim, I experienced all the ranges of temperatures, from a freezing snowstorm at the top to sunny t-shirt weather at the bottom of the Hermit Trail at Monument Creek campground. The canyon was lovely at lower elevations but often uncomfortably cold at the rim.
March Weather Summary
March is a cool-weather month in the canyon’s South Rim with occasional rain or snow, so check the forecast at Grand Canyon Village, Arizona, before traveling.
On the one hand, you may experience wintery conditions during this month, like a sudden snowstorm or an icy path. On the other hand, it may feel like spring on sunny afternoons, and you may be able to wear t-shirts or long-sleeved shirts. And if you’re planning to descend even a mile into the canyon, you’ll find warmer, dryer, and calmer weather.
Summary: Be prepared for changeable weather during March, check the weather forecasts, and remember that the temperature will differ dramatically if you enter the canyon.
Here are quotes from other visitors and locals about March weather in the Grand Canyon:
“Arizona high country has truly unpredictable weather in the spring. Regardless if on the rim or in the canyon think layers…. layers, layers!!”
“Honestly, March can be pretty blustery and snowy. Check the National Weather Service website a week before traveling. Their week forecast is pretty dependable.”
Does It Snow in March in the Grand Canyon?
It is likely to rain or snow on the South Rim in March in the Grand Canyon. On average, it snows, rains, or sleets for four days. However, the chance of a damp day decreases from 15% to 10% by the end of the month. Prepare for a sudden weather change.
The daylight hours increase in during the month, reaching 12.5 hours in late March (it peaks at over 14 daylight hours in the summer). As long as you’re bundled up for the cold weather, you’ll likely fall in love with the March sunshine and snow.
Snow and South Rim Road Conditions in March
Most roads are kept clear even in March. If there’s a snowstorm, you can expect the roads to be plowed within a couple of hours. Check the weather forecast a few days before your trip; prepare accordingly if you see a storm warning.
You can expect areas with more foot traffic (like the visitor centers) are regularly plowed and shoveled. However, some overlooks, like Yaki Point, may not be shoveled after a storm.
Some frequented areas, like the Bright Angel Lodge to the trailhead, may refreeze overnight, adding risk for black ice and slippery pathways in the early morning, late afternoon, and evening.
For more information about weather and road conditions, check out NPS Grand Canyon – Weather and Road Conditions.
How Busy Is Grand Canyon in March?
March is one of the least crowded months at the Grand Canyon, so it’s a great time to visit the South Rim. The average number of visitors in March is between 400,000 and 500,000. In comparison, July – the busiest month for visitors to the Grand Canyon – usually gets around 800,000 visitors.
So, March receives half as many visitors as July and is a great time to visit if you don’t like heavily crowded areas.
Visiting later? Make sure to check out our guide to Grand Canyon in April as well. It’s still a great month before the summer crowds arrive.
Grand Canyon Maps | South Rim and North Rim
For visitors to the Grand Canyon, there are two excellent maps:
Both maps are weatherproof, tear-resistant, and accurate at mapping this giant park. Even if you’re only visiting for a couple of days in March, you may wish to buy one or both of these maps.
As a reminder, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is closed in March (it reopens in May), but you can still use these maps to navigate the South Rim.
Recommended Tours from Las Vegas in February
If you plan a trip to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, we recommend taking at least one of the above-shown tours. We have done all of them and had a great time doing so. Everything is taken care of by the tour operators. Hassle-free!
Grand Canyon Accommodation | South Rim
One simple and comfortable option for staying near the South Rim is to book a hotel or lodge in the park in Grand Canyon Village. However, it may be challenging to get a reservation as rooms may sell out quickly, particularly as March is spring break season. So, the second best option is Tusayan Village. You can get to Grand Canyon South Rim from Tusayan:
- Winter Off-Season Option (i.e., March): A 15-minute drive from Tusayan to the Grand Canyon South Rim Parking Lot (Google Maps).
- Summer High-Season Option: Via shuttle (Tusayan Route). It runs from late May to early September, so you won’t have this option in March.
Tip: Use the deals finder above from booking.com or this link: Tusayan – Grand Canyon Hotel Deals (via booking.com – price match! Sort by star rating and price)
What to Wear in March?
Essential Clothing Items
These are the essential clothing items you will need.
What to Wear at the Top of the Rim
During March in Grand Canyon National Park, wear warm, waterproof layers for hiking, particularly near the top of the rim. On a clear and warmer day, you’ll still need long underwear, gloves, scarves, and jackets. Choose outer waterproof layers and opt for base layers in fabric like wool.
If you’re going to view the sunrise, remember that it takes a few hours to warm up to the daytime high temperature, so the warmest layers are required in the morning and evening.
What to Wear at the Bottom of the Canyon
During March at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, wear warm base layers like jackets and long-sleeved shirts for the mornings and evenings, but expect to warm up more quickly at lower elevations, where you may opt for sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, and a t-shirt, even in March.
💡 It is much dryer at the bottom of the canyon, so waterproof layers aren’t as essential as at the South Rim.
What to Wear in March | Winter Clothing
Even if you don’t plan to hike, you will likely want to see the canyon in the morning, which can be frigid, even freezing in March. So, winter clothing like puffy jackets, scarves, and gloves are necessary to keep you warm enough until mid-morning.
What to Wear in March | Sun-Protective Clothing
Due to its high elevation, the sunshine can be very intense as you are closer to the sun. On bright days, bring a hat and sunglasses to wear. It’s still best to wear layers in case of temperature changes during the brightest hours.
What to Wear | Hiking Clothing and Gear
March is one of the best months of the year to go hiking in the Grand Canyon, as it is much less risky than in the summer when people frequently get injured due to heat exposure and dehydration. March is a mild month, temperature-wise, and can be very comfortable the further you hike into the base of the canyon.
However, hiking in Grand Canyon in March requires several hiking essentials to be prepared for significant temperature variations:
- Morning: In the early morning and after sunset, you’ll need winter clothing layers like long underwear, thick pants, long-sleeved shirts, jackets, hats, scarves, and gloves.
- Daytime: During the day, particularly if it’s a strenuous hike (most in the canyon are) or if you’re at the warmer base of the canyon, you will need to shed layers to stay at a comfortable temperature. Wear layers like t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and a jacket.
For gear, we recommend bringing hiking boots or sturdy shoes with a strong grip on the bottom to avoid slipping if the trail is icy or muddy. Due to the technical, steep, and often rocky path, you will benefit from carrying trekking poles too. Other items to bring include:
- Extra food and water
- Thick blankets
- Radios and additional batteries
When in doubt, ask the ranger for suggestions as the National Park staff frequently hike in and around the park at different elevations.
Camping | South Rim
For those who wish to camp, the Mather Campground (327 sites) is the only campground in Grand Canyon Village and is only a 20-minute walk from the South Rim.
Mather is open to reservations from March 1 to November 30, and you can book sites up to six months in advance (i.e., book as early as September). However, you will only need about one month’s advance notice to book a campsite as March is still the off-season.
Since evening temperatures can drop to freezing, with a chance of snow, it will be more comfortable for overnight campers to stay in a recreational vehicle (RV). Mather Campground has several pull-through sites that fit RVs up to 30 feet long with trailers up to 27 feet long. You can rent an RV for $100 to $200 per night.
Things to Do in March
March is an exciting time to visit the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
The park is primarily self-guided, with numerous overlooks directly in the village region. However, to explore, you’ll need to take shuttles. For one, to go to some of the more eastern vistas, use the free Kaibab Rim Orange shuttle bus. And to see Hermit’s Rest, take the free Red route.
You may still drive, however. To travel further east, take the 23-mile scenic route: Desert View Road.
Tip: Always go to the visitor center first thing in the morning. Rangers will tell you about the weather conditions for the day, including whether it is safe to hike certain trails, whether some trails are closed, and which overlooks are the safest to visit.
Hiking is at the top of the list of activities to participate in while visiting the South Rim. It’s an activity that most people can do year-round and offers stunning views of the canyon from within, which feels like holy ground. Some parts of the trails are even handicap-friendly.
Rim Trail: Most people will walk a mile or two along the 13-mile Rim Trail, which is easy to moderate, with exceptional canyon views year-round. It is also paved, with little elevation gain, which makes it easier for people who want to stroll.
Those who decide to hike during March will be rewarded with fewer people on the trails, especially in the mornings. It’s important to remember to dress in layers appropriate for your hike and ensure you plan for extra time on the paths. For more information, read this informative National Park Service (NPS) guide to hiking questions.
Popular Hikes: Below are some hikes you can walk in March, though some are recommended for experienced hikers:
- Bright Angel Trail (day hike guide by NPS)
- South Kaibab Trail (day hike guide by NPS)
- Hermit Trail (day hike guide by NPS)
- Tonto Trail (multi-day backpacking trail guide by NPS)
If you are planning a Rim-to-Rim (South Rim to North Rim) or Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim hike, be sure to research these tremendously difficult and sometimes dangerous hikes, which are only recommended for people with hiking experience or with little hiking experience.
Dangers: The trails can be slippery, snowy, muddy, or icy in March. Approximately 12 people die while hiking in the canyon every year, usually from falls.
Overnight Permits: A wilderness permit is required ($10 plus $12 per person per night) for overnight hikers and backpackers.
You’ll need to head to the Kaibab National Forest to enjoy cross-country skiing in the South Rim. Other areas of the South Rim are not fit for this activity. March can still be snowy, but it may also be too dry for skiing, so check the Kaibab National Forest’s website or call for this information.
Riding A Helicopter
Helicopter tours are available all year long at the Grand Canyon. You’ll want to experience the views during March to see the canyon from a different perspective.
While multiple tours are available, this Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour is one of the best. They will fly you over the South Rim and Kaibab National Forest during a 45-minute ride.
Watching the Sunrise and Sunset
Yes, you can watch the sunrise each month at the Grand Canyon. The month of March has fewer visitors and may even offer a snowy view of the South Rim, proving an unforgettable experience.
Sunsets over the canyon are also breathtaking. If you’re not hiking, you can catch a shuttle later in the day or drive to a scenic area to enjoy the sunrise or sunset, as shuttles depart as early as 4:30 a.m. (see shuttle information below).
Openings and Closures in March
The South Rim, the most visited area, is open year-round. There are no closures during the holidays or weekends here, making it the best spot to visit. National Park passes will need to be purchased to enter the Grand Canyon, and you can buy these ahead of time online or at the park entrance.
March 1 marks the beginning of the shoulder season in the South Rim and is the prime time for hiking into the canyon, which isn’t too hot yet.
The North Rim is closed to everyone who is visiting by car. You may visit the North Rim via hiking with a backcountry permit. Check the NPS website for more information. The North Rim and its roads are only fully open each year from May 15 to October 15.
The privately-owned Grand Canyon West, or “West Rim,” is closer to Las Vegas (about two hours away by car) and is home to the Skywalk attraction. It is located on the Native land of the Hualapai Reservation. The West Rim is not part of the National Park, but it is a popular place for visitors.
Shuttle Services in March
By March 1, almost all shuttle services at the South Rim are available, except for the Tusayan Route shuttle, which starts operation in late May. Below are a few of the most popular routes.
Village (Blue) Route
- Stops at the visitor center, lodges, Mather Campground, and Bright Angel trailhead.
This free Village shuttle runs on a loop that stops at central visitor and accommodation sites like the campground, lodges, and visitor center. Hikers can take this Blue Route to the east to walk Bright Angel Trail, an excellent path that takes you as far down as the river and is perfect for a hefty March day hike, as long as you bring water and snacks.
This route runs throughout the year. Because the schedule changes during different seasons, you’ll need to check the park website for an official schedule. However, the below timelines are an excellent place to start.
Rides run from an hour before sunrise to 9:00 p.m. each day. From 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., buses run approximately every 30 minutes.
Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route
- Stops at Yaki Point, Yavapai Point, and South Kaibab trailhead.
Most visitors to the South Rim will take the free Kaibab Rim shuttle bus which runs on a loop and stops at many of the park’s scenic points. Hikers can take this Orange Route to the east to get to South Kaibab Trailhead, a popular starting point for a Rim-to-Rim (South Rim to North Rim) trek, excellent in March weather.
This shuttle is open year-round, even during snowy or rainy weather. The bus runs both eastbound and westbound, making it convenient to catch. As with all shuttles in the area, the hours will vary depending on the season.
In March, the Kaibab Rim (Orange) route starts at 4:30 a.m. and runs until one hour after sunset. The bus picks up passengers every 10-30 minutes.
Hikers’ Express Shuttle
- Stops at South Kaibab trailhead.
For hikers, there is a year-round one-way hiker’s express shuttle to South Kaibab trailhead, the most convenient location for a Rim-to-Rim (South Rim to North Rim) or Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim hike. There are only four stops on this express route, so you’ll want to double-check that your intended destination is listed.
The hiker shuttle departs at 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 a.m. in March. Remember that you’ll need to take a different shuttle back from the trailhead, such as the Kaibab Rim (Orange) Route.
Hermit Road (Red) Route
- Stops at Hermit’s Rest trailhead.
The free Hermit Road shuttle is the longest bus in the park (80 minutes without disembarking), stopping at nine excellent canyon overlooks. The route is a 7-mile road to Hermit’s Rest and is closed to car traffic, so taking this shuttle will put you in a more remote part of the park, a good location to spend the day walking or biking along the South Rim (perhaps with a picnic and hot drink thermos).
In March, the Hermit Road (Red) route starts at 4:30 a.m. and runs until one hour after sunset. The bus picks up passengers every 10-30 minutes. The shuttle renews service on March 1 every year and runs even during rainy or snowy weather.
Is Grand Canyon Skywalk Open in March?
Yes, the Grand Canyon Skywalk is open in March. As with most attractions, the Grand Canyon Skywalk has differing hours in the winter. You can visit this glass-floor attraction from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. every day of the year. Remember that the Grand Canyon is enormous, and the Skywalk is a 4-hour drive from the Grand Canyon National Park. Las Vegas is closer to the Skywalk, only a 2-hour drive.
March is one of the best months to visit the Skywalk, as crowds are minimal due to the cold temperatures. You can purchase tickets at the entrance or online for $65 per person ($39 for general admission and $26 for the Skywalk).
The sun sets after 6:00 p.m. in March, but if you’re looking for a golden hour visit to the Skywalk, wait to buy the last tickets of the day at 5:00 p.m.
Note: Personal belongings (including cameras and phones) are not allowed on the Skywalk. If you want a photo, you’ll need to purchase an additional service from a photographer onsite. Lockers are available to place your items in while walking on the Skywalk.