Yosemite in March: Best Activities for a Late Winter Visit
Visiting Yosemite National Park in March
Yosemite’s Winter Season comprises the months of December through March. Through these five months, Yosemite is snowy, quiet, and still. While March is by no means the snowiest month in the park, visitors should prepare for freezing temperatures and icy ground. Due to the more moderate temperatures, peak tourist season in Yosemite National Park falls between May through September. If hoping to avoid large crowds, March is the ultimate time to visit a serene Yosemite.
Is Yosemite Open in March?
Yes; Yosemite National Park is open in March. March is a wonderful time to visit the park without experiencing large crowds.
Visitors can access Yosemite Valley and Wawona by personal vehicle year-round, but there are some internal road closures to note. Tioga Road is seasonally closed mid-November until mid-April. Access to the Tuolumne Meadows area is included in this closure. The road to Glacier Point is closed from November until mid-April, with the exception of the snow plowed path to the Badger Pass Ski Area. Mariposa Grove Road is also seasonally closed and traditionally reopens for travel by mid-April. When Mariposa Grove Road is closed, travelers can access the Mariposa Grove by foot via the two-mile Washburn Trail. This trail is icy and snowy during winter months. Travelers are advised to bring proper attire and shoes.
Tire chains are required on park roads during winter months. Visitors must both carry tire chains and know how to use them, regardless of vehicle type or size.
If driving to Yosemite in March, it is recommended that visitors take Highway 140 (All Weather Road). The is the safest route into the park during the winter, but still may require visitors to put on tire chains to travel in.
Snowfall in Yosemite tapers off around the end of March, so visitors interested in skiing or snow sightseeing are encouraged to arrive prior to the beginning of April.
What is the Weather in the Park Like During March?
Yosemite temperatures range from the low 30’s to the high-50’s during the month of March. Snowfall is intermittent, and typically does not gather over a foot tall. Of course, the depth of snow increases with altitude. Rain is persistent and usually falls upon Yosemite about ten days out of the month.
Sunny days are infrequent in March, but the low-level winter lighting makes for crisp photographs. Visitors comfortable with cloudy and rainy days can enjoy most of the park crowd-free. Hazy conditions may occur in March, as the National Park Service prescribes routine fires to mimic natural fires for forest health. For updated air quality conditions and haze information, visitors should visit nps.gov.
Can I Hike in Yosemite in March?
Yes; you can hike in Yosemite in March.
During the winter season, some of Yosemite’s higher elevation trails are closed. The following hiking trails are typically open in March: Lower Yosemite Falls, Mirror Lake, Bridalveil Fall, and the Vernal Falls footbridge on Mist Trail. Hetch Hetchy and Wawona remain open year-round. The Upper Yosemite Falls trail is traditionally closed during the month of March.
The Bridalveil Fall Trail is a great trail to stroll for beginner winter hikers. The hike is only ½ mile in distance round-trip, and provides an extraordinary view of the dramatic waterfall at Bridalveil Fall. The entire walk can be done in under 30 minutes, which is ideal for days with particularly frigid winter temperatures.
Backpacking options during off-season are limited, and trail markers may be covered by snowfall. Trickier trails are only recommended for seasoned winter hikers. Trekking poles and snowshoes are suggested; snowshoes are available for rental at multiple locations within the park.
Though the weather may appear to be cloudy and chilly, hikers are advised to bring ample water supply for drinking throughout the trip.
March Activities in Yosemite
Winter Sightseeing in Yosemite
Yosemite National Park does offer unique sightseeing experiences during the winter months. Driving through Yosemite Valley in March, travelers will see gorgeous snow-covered trees, magnificent icicles, and jaw-dropping winter vistas.
During March, Yosemite’s visitors are encouraged to catch a sunrise or sunset at Tunnel View, just outside the Valley. The low light but brilliant colors make for awe-inspiring photographs. Hiking to Tunnel View is not required – the best view of the Valley is accessible by drive.
Sentinel Bridge is particularly delightful and serene when covered in snow. The icy water below and frosted trees are truly a sight to behold. Bridalveil Fall, Lower Yosemite Falls, and Mirror Lake are also picturesque sights in the wintertide.
Go Skiing, Snowboarding, or Snow Tubing Badger Pass
March marks the end of snowy season in Yosemite, so visitors looking to experience the slopes at their finest are encouraged to visit the park within the first few weeks of the month.
Badger Pass Ski Area offers winter sport activities for skiers both beginner and advanced. For those uninterested in skiing, snow tubing is a wonderful option. Tubing is much like sledding; tubers slide down the slopes on large inflatable discs. Badger Pass is most well-known for its downhill and cross-country skiing. Beginner and intermediate skiers are welcome, and ski lessons are available as well. Badger Pass is widely regarded as a family-friendly area to learn how to ski.
Badger Pass Ski Area is located off Glacier Point Road, only a short 15-minute drive from the Yosemite West area! To view rental properties available in Yosemite West, click here (link).
Visit the historic Ahwahnee Hotel
The Ahwahnee Hotel is a striking historic property with a granite façade, log-beamed ceilings, stone hearths, and authentic Native American artwork. It is a National Historic Landmark and is definitely worth visiting while in the park!
Many Yosemite guests visit the Ahwahnee Hotel Dining Room for an opulent and elegant supper. Local favorite menu items include the Burrata, Shrimp Cocktail, Roasted Prime Rib, and Boysenberry Pie. The Ahwahnee Dining Room is also known for its extensive list of red and white wines.
Go Ice Skating
Ice skating at the Curry Village Ice Rink is a winter-season favorite. This rink is undoubtedly one of the most scenic ice-skating opportunities in the United States, offering jaw-dropping views of Half Dome while gliding on the ice. Visitors can purchase tickets fifteen minutes prior to each skate time and tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Curry Village Ice Rink is also available for private rental. It’s the perfect spot for large group or family events!
Snowshoeing is a popular family-friendly winter activity, as it requires less dedicated balancing than skiing or snowboarding, but still offers great exercise and views of Yosemite after snowfall! Snowshoeing is essentially winter hiking. Unlike skiing or snowboarding, folks can chat while snowshoeing, making it a highly social activity. Shoe rentals are generally inexpensive and snowshoe rental facilities will teach visitors all the important tips for a successful trip. Beginners classes and guided snowshoeing tours are offered at multiple locations within Yosemite National Park.
Enjoy Hot Chocolate by the Fire
Relaxing by the bonfire with loved ones, sipping on a cup of hot chocolate, and enjoying the incredible views of Yosemite National Park in the winter is an unparalleled experience! Many rental cabins, lodges, and homes feature outdoor fire pits perfect for gathering around the fire with friends or family.
Explore available properties here. (link to SW)
Warm Up in the Jacuzzi
A well-loved post-ski tradition, many winter Yosemite visitors enjoy relaxing in a soothing jacuzzi hot tub and watching the snow fall. Many rental cabins, homes, and lodges in Yosemite National Park offer outdoor decks with private hot tubs. To view private rental homes, cabins, and lodges in Yosemite, click here (link).
Stargaze into the Winter Sky
Bass Lake is widely considered one of the best stargazing spots in Yosemite National Park during the month of March. Bring warm winter attire, hot chocolate, snacks, something to sit on, and set up a spot along the shoreline of Bass Lake. Visitors will surely enjoy the natural light show across the night sky! Temperatures can drop in the twenties or below, so be sure to arrive with appropriate gear to avoid frostbite. The stars in this area are truly magnificent!
Visit Historic Museums & Visitor Centers
For visitors looking to escape the cold, there are numerous museums and visitor centers within the bounds of Yosemite National Park.
The Yosemite Valley Visitor Center is open year-round and is considered the home for all things Yosemite. The Visitor Center offers a wealth of free resources for travelers looking to learn more about the national park. Visitors are encouraged to stop in the center to chat with a park ranger and learn about all that Yosemite has to offer. Additionally, the Visitor Center features a bookstore that sells maps, guidebooks, souvenirs, and more.
The Ansel Adams Gallery is open year-round, with the exception of Christmas Day. The gallery features the work of contemporary photographers, in addition to offering photography classes and workshops. In-gallery tours are also available year-round. The Ansel Adams Gallery is located in Yosemite Valley, between the visitor center and the Post Office. It offers breathtaking views of Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, and Glacier Point.
The Yosemite Museum has been welcoming visitors since 1925. It is open year-round and is located next to the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center. The museum features information on the cultural history of Yosemite’s native peoples, as well as an impressive art gallery.
Take a Guided Bus Tour
Guided Bus Tours are offered in Yosemite National Park year-round. During the winter months, guided bus tours take place in heated motor coaches with panoramic windows. The Yosemite Valley tour is two-hours long and is led by Park Rangers that expertly highlight the natural wonders of Yosemite National Park.
Best Lodging in Yosemite for March
Renting a private cabin, condo, or home in Yosemite National Park during the winter season is the best way to guarantee respite from chilly winter conditions. Rental cabins offer cozy indoor fireplaces, traditional outdoor fire pits, and central heating during the colder months.
If you’re looking for Yosemite National Park lodging, call Yosemite’s Scenic Wonders at 1-888-YOSEMITE (1-888-967-3648) to begin planning your memorable vacation. Scenic Wonders offers quality home, condo, and cabin rentals inside of Yosemite National Park at reasonable prices.