March in Yosemite: The Insider’s Guide to Maximizing Your Visit

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Yosemite National Park, located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, is an iconic natural sanctuary renowned for its towering granite cliffs, ancient giant sequoias, and an array of captivating waterfalls. Encompassing nearly 1,200 square miles, the park plays host to a diverse range of ecosystems, from vast meadows to deep valleys. One of the crucial elements to consider while planning a visit to Yosemite—or any national park, for that matter—is the season. Each season in Yosemite brings its own charm, challenges, and opportunities. Thus, understanding what the park has to offer during your chosen month can be instrumental in making the most out of your trip.

Why Visit Yosemite in March?

Lower Crowd Levels: March falls within Yosemite’s off-peak season. This means fewer visitors, granting you a more peaceful experience. You’ll have the privilege of absorbing the park’s breathtaking vistas without the typical congestion found during summer months.

Winter transitioning to Spring: March is a unique month in Yosemite, as it straddles the transition between winter and spring. This implies that you might witness the last snowfall of the season while simultaneously seeing early spring blossoms. The melting snow can also accentuate the beauty of Yosemite’s waterfalls, making them fuller and more spectacular.

Special Seasonal Activities: This transitional period offers a variety of activities, both winter and spring-centric. Depending on the snow conditions, visitors might still be able to enjoy winter activities such as snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. On milder days, hiking becomes more accessible, especially on the valley floor. There might also be ranger-led programs or special events in the park celebrating the onset of spring.

Planning a trip to Yosemite in March promises an unparalleled blend of serenity, natural beauty, and engaging activities. It’s a time when you can witness the park in its thawing glory, making every moment truly unforgettable.

clouds in yosemite

Weather Conditions

Understanding the weather conditions is vital when planning a visit to Yosemite National Park, especially during the transitional month of March.

Temperature Range:

  • Daytime: In March, daytime temperatures in Yosemite Valley typically range from 50°F to 65°F. However, as you ascend in elevation, temperatures can be notably cooler.
  • Nighttime: Evening temperatures can drop significantly, especially in higher elevations. In the Valley, expect temperatures between 30°F to 40°F, but be prepared for cooler conditions if venturing to elevated areas.

Precipitation: March is one of Yosemite’s wetter months, with both rain and snow being possibilities. While the Valley primarily sees rain, higher elevations, like the Badger Pass Ski Area, often receive snow. Always monitor weather forecasts closely, as conditions can change rapidly.

Wind Conditions: Wind speed in Yosemite during March usually ranges from 5 to 15 mph, with occasional gusts reaching up to 25 mph. The wind predominantly comes from the west or northwest. While Yosemite Valley is relatively sheltered, exposed ridges and high points can be windier.

Available Accommodations

Accommodation is a vital component of any trip, and fortunately, Yosemite offers a plethora of options, whether you’re looking for rustic charm or more refined comfort.


Inside the park: Yosemite Valley Lodge is conveniently located near the majestic Yosemite Falls. Another notable option is the historic Ahwahnee Hotel, known for its stunning architecture and luxurious accommodations.

Nearby the park: Just outside the park boundaries, towns like El Portal, Mariposa, and Fish Camp offer various hotel options, ranging from budget-friendly to upscale.


While many of Yosemite’s campgrounds are seasonal, a few remain open in March. These include the Upper Pines Campground in Yosemite Valley. Reservations are highly recommended, as spots can fill up quickly, even in the off-season.

Other Lodging Options

Cabins: Housekeeping Camp, located in Yosemite Valley, provides a unique blend of camping and comfort with their cabin-style accommodations. Additionally, Foresta and Wawona have private cabin rentals.

RV parks: While there are no hook-ups within the park itself, several campgrounds, including Upper Pines, can accommodate RVs. For full hook-up sites, consider staying in nearby towns like El Portal.

yurt in yosemite

Must-See Attractions

Yosemite, with its vast expanse and varied terrain, offers a smorgasbord of breathtaking sites and experiences. Yosemite National Park in March is a blend of the retreating winter and the approaching spring, providing visitors with a unique and unforgettable experience. Remember, always prioritize safety and respect the park’s guidelines to ensure a smooth trip. Here’s a snapshot of what you shouldn’t miss in March:

Waterfalls: The melting snow of March ensures that Yosemite’s waterfalls are in full flow. Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, and Vernal Fall are among the most accessible and should be on every visitor’s list.


  • Yosemite Valley: The heart of the park, this glacial valley is renowned for its iconic landmarks, including El Capitan, Half Dome, and the aforementioned waterfalls.
  • Hetch Hetchy Valley: Lesser-visited than its famous counterpart, this valley offers serene beauty and the chance to see the impressive Wapama Falls.
  • High Sierra: Due to snow, many of the High Sierra areas remain inaccessible in March. However, the Badger Pass Ski Area provides opportunities for snow activities and offers a glimpse of the region’s winter beauty.

Wildlife: As spring approaches, the park’s fauna begins to emerge from its winter slumber. Mule deer are commonly spotted grazing in meadows, while bird enthusiasts can witness a variety of species, from mountain bluebirds to American robins. If you’re particularly observant, you might even catch a glimpse of the elusive bobcat.

Activities to Enjoy

March in Yosemite is the intersection of winter’s end and spring’s onset, allowing visitors to indulge in a variety of activities.

Hiking: While higher elevation trails may still be snow-covered, many trails in Yosemite Valley are accessible. Popular March choices include the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall, Lower Yosemite Fall Trail, and Bridalveil Fall Trail. Always check current trail conditions before heading out.

Photography: With snow-capped peaks, cascading waterfalls at their peak flow, and budding meadows, Yosemite in March is a photographer’s dream. Iconic spots include Tunnel View, Valley View, and Glacier Point Road (if accessible).

Snow Activities: The Badger Pass Ski Area, when open in March, offers downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Rentals and lessons are typically available.

Star Gazing: March can be a mixed bag for stargazing due to variable weather conditions. However, on clear nights, the winter constellations are still visible early in the month, and the crisp mountain air can offer spectacular views of the night sky.

What to Pack

March in Yosemite demands preparedness. Given the varying conditions, here’s what you should consider packing:

  • Since March weather is unpredictable, layered clothing is essential. Start with moisture-wicking base layers, add an insulating layer like fleece, and top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Don’t forget warm hats, gloves, and a scarf for chillier moments.
  • A good camera, with a protective case, is a must.
  • For wildlife watching, a pair of binoculars will enhance your experience.
  • If you’re planning on hiking, pack waterproof hiking boots, trekking poles for stability, and a reliable backpack.
  • Energy bars, trail mix, dried fruits, and nuts are ideal snacks for maintaining energy during hikes or other activities.
  • Always carry ample water, either in a refillable bottle or hydration bladder. Consider a portable water filter if you plan to refill from natural sources.

A trip to Yosemite in March is an exhilarating experience, filled with the beauty of transitioning seasons. Being well-prepared will ensure that you make the most of your visit, regardless of the weather conditions.

stop sign

Park Safety

When visiting Yosemite, safety should always be a priority. Yosemite is a place of immense beauty, but it’s also a wild environment. Being informed and prepared is the best way to ensure your visit is both memorable and safe.

Given the park’s vast expanse and varied terrain, it’s essential to be prepared for potential hazards.

Weather Concerns:

  • Snow: Higher elevations can still have significant snow, which can pose risks like avalanches or icy conditions.
  • Rain: March can be wet. Slippery trails and waterlogged grounds can be dangerous. It’s crucial to have waterproof gear and to exercise caution when near fast-moving water.

Wildlife Safety: Always observe animals from a distance. Do not feed or approach them. If you encounter a bear or mountain lion, make yourself appear larger, make loud noises, and slowly back away without turning your back to the animal.

Altitude Sickness: Altitude sickness can occur when you quickly ascend to high altitudes. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, and shortness of breath. The key is to acclimate slowly if coming from sea level. Stay hydrated, and if symptoms persist or worsen, descend to a lower elevation and seek medical attention.

Tips and Tricks

Visiting Yosemite National Park in March presents its own unique set of experiences. To make the most of your trip and navigate the park like a seasoned traveler, consider the following tips and tricks:

  • Secure your accommodations early to ensure you have a place to stay that meets your preferences and budget. 
  • The official NPS site for Yosemite is a goldmine of up-to-date information, including trail conditions, road closures, and weather advisories.
  • Offered by the National Park Service, the NP app provides maps, self-guided tours, and other essential details right at your fingertips.
  • AllTrails is a popular app listing numerous hiking trails within Yosemite, complete with user reviews, difficulty ratings, and trail maps.

Local Secrets and Spots Less Frequented by Tourists:

  • Often overshadowed by Yosemite Valley, Hetch Hetchy offers serene beauty and hiking opportunities with fewer crowds.
  • Located near the Ahwahnee Hotel, Secret Indian Caves, though not very deep, provide a fascinating glimpse into the park’s past.
  • Swinging Bridge Picnic Area is a less-frequented spot, ideal for a peaceful picnic with views of Yosemite Falls.
  • While the park has its eateries, venturing just outside to nearby towns can lead you to local gems offering hearty mountain meals.

Key Takeaways

  • Yosemite in March is a blend of retreating winter and emerging spring, offering a unique landscape with melting snow and budding meadows.
  • From hotels within the park like Yosemite Valley Lodge to campgrounds and cabins, it’s essential to book accommodations in advance due to the park’s year-round popularity.
  • Notable sites include the water-soaked Yosemite Falls, Bridalveil Fall, the iconic El Capitan, and the lesser-visited Hetch Hetchy Valley.
  • March offers a mix of hiking trails in the valley, photography opportunities with snow-capped peaks, snow activities in the High Sierra areas, and potential stargazing on clear nights.
  • Awareness of weather concerns, such as snow and rain, understanding wildlife safety, and preventing altitude sickness are crucial for a safe visit.
  • Utilize the National Park Service website, the Yosemite NP app, and AllTrails for up-to-date information and trail recommendations.
  • Exploring less-frequented spots like Hetch Hetchy Valley and the Secret Indian Caves, and venturing to local eateries outside the park can enhance the Yosemite experience.


  1. Will I be able to see waterfalls in Yosemite in March?
    Yes, March’s melting snow often leads to spectacular waterfall displays, including Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Fall.
  2. What kind of accommodations are available in Yosemite in March?
    Options range from rustic campsites and cabins to luxurious hotels like the Ahwahnee and Yosemite Valley Lodge.
  3. Are any special activities available in March?
    Depending on snow conditions, activities can include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and hiking in the valley.
  4. Will I be able to see wildlife in March?
    Yes, as the weather warms, animals such as deer and various birds become more active and visible.
  5. Can I expect snow in Yosemite Valley in March?
    Snow is possible, particularly in early March, but it tends to melt quickly in the Valley.
  6. Are any areas of the park inaccessible during March?
    Higher elevation areas like the High Sierra may remain inaccessible due to snow.
  7. Do I need a reservation to enter the park in March?
    While not usually required in March, it’s always best to check the latest park entry requirements.
  8. What are some less crowded spots to visit in Yosemite in March?
    Hetch Hetchy Valley and lesser-known trails can offer more solitude.

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