Montana in March: Best Outdoor Adventure Guide

In this exhilarating outdoor adventure guide, I’ll showcase the best spots to explore and the popular activities to try in Montana during March.

I understand the fear of not knowing where to start or making a mistake in planning your trip.

That’s why I’m here to share my expertise gained from years of exploring and studying the stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems of Big Sky Country.

I’ve trekked the walking trails, camped under Montana’s skies, and stood in awe of the breathtaking scenery, so you can trust that you’re in good hands.

This guide is for adventurous folks who love excitement and peaceful nature.

Join me as I take you on a captivating journey through the rugged terrain and awe-inspiring beauty of Montana in March. 

Montana in March: Reasons to Visit

A view of a Montanan snow covered valley with mountains in the background in March.

March in Montana offers a splendid array of outdoor escapades amid its diverse landscapes.

From thrilling snow-covered adventures to amazing wildlife encounters, this month presents an ideal time to experience the state’s natural marvels.

Prices are also lower and crowds are fewer since March is still considerably part of the shoulder season.

Outdoor enthusiasts revel in the abundance of snow activities. Cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing—all come alive against Montana’s scenic backdrop.

March also unveils a unique opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts. The snowy terrain provides a stunning contrast to witness majestic creatures like elk, bison, and bighorn sheep in their natural habitats.

The weather in March offers a delightful mix—snowy days that blanket the landscapes and sunny spells that showcase Montana’s rugged beauty.

However, the weather can be unpredictable, so packing appropriately is key. Bring layers, warm clothing, and quality rain gear to adapt to the changing conditions.

Being prepared ensures a comfortable and enjoyable adventure through Montana’s varying climates.

Montana in March: Weather Conditions

A snow-covered valley in Montana.

March in Big Sky Country brings about an intriguing mix of weather conditions, showcasing the state’s diverse climate.

With the transition from winter months to springtime in Montana during April, expect a blend of snowy landscapes, occasional sunny days, and the potential for fluctuating temperatures, offering a dynamic backdrop for outdoor adventures.

Average Temperatures During March

Mountains of Montana are covered in snow.

March in Montana typically boasts cold temperatures and an abundance of snow, making it an appealing time to visit for winter enthusiasts.

Nevertheless, the weather can vary significantly, fluctuating between heavy snowfall and sunny weather, adding an element of unpredictability to the experience.

LocationAverage Temperature °F (°C)Warmest Temperature Mean °F (°C)Coldest Temperature Mean °F (°C)Precipitation (inches)
Miles City26.2°F (−3.2°C)36.1°F (2.3°C)16.2°F (−8.8°C)0.44″
Billings28.6°F (−1.9°C)38.1v (3.4°C)19.1°F (−7.2°C)1.50″
Kalispell29.4°F (−1.4°C)40.4°F (4.7°C)18.4°F (−7.6°C)0.55″
Missoula32.2°F (0.1°C)42.2°F (5.7°C)22.1°F (−5.4°C)1.06″
Bozeman27.7°F (−2.4°C)37.4°F (3.0°C)18.9°F (−7.3°C)1.91″
Helena26.7°F (−2.9°C)36.9°F (2.7°C)16.4°F (−8.0°C)1.23″
West Yellowstone17.8°F (−7.9°C)32.3°F (0.2°C)3.2°F (−16.0°C)4.22″

Miles City experiences relatively moderate temperatures throughout March, with milder winters and moderate summers. It receives a moderate amount of precipitation.

Billings has slightly warmer temperatures than Miles City on average, with a similar precipitation pattern.

Kalispell experiences slightly higher temperatures than Billings, with a bit more variation between seasons. It also receives a moderate amount of precipitation.

Missoula enjoys relatively milder temperatures, especially in the warmer months. It receives a moderate amount of precipitation as well.

Bozeman has temperatures comparable to Miles City and Billings but tends to have a bit more precipitation than both.

Helena experiences temperatures similar to Miles City but has slightly higher precipitation compared to some of the other locations.

West Yellowstone has notably colder temperatures, especially during March, with significantly lower temperatures than the other locations in Montana.

It also receives a higher amount of precipitation compared to the rest of the cities mentioned.

While the temperatures vary among these locations, they all generally experience a fair amount of precipitation, although with some variation in intensity.

What to Wear in Montana During March

A woman holding snow on a tree branch in Montana.

In Montana’s ever-changing and often chilly March weather, dressing appropriately is crucial, especially given its varied conditions.

Layering clothing is key to staying comfortable in March. Start with a base layer for insulation, add a mid-layer for warmth, and top it off with a waterproof and windproof outer layer.

An insulated jacket is a must, particularly on colder days. Consider a waterproof or water-resistant shell to fend off potential snow or rain.

Winter accessories like hats, gloves, and scarves are essential for shielding against biting winds. Insulated, waterproof gloves are particularly handy for various outdoor activities.

When it comes to footwear, waterproof and insulated boots are a necessity, especially if you plan on exploring snowy or wet terrain.

Layering thin, moisture-wicking socks beneath thicker, insulated ones can offer added comfort in the cold, helping to manage moisture and keep your feet warm.

Remember, Montana’s March weather can be challenging, so packing gear for bad weather conditions is essential.

Be prepared for potential snow, rain, and fluctuating temperatures to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience outdoors.

Montana in March: 6 Best Outdoor Adventures

A snowy road with mountains in the background in Montana.

Montana in March is like a mix of winter and spring. It’s a cool time to explore outside.

From snow-draped peaks to awakening valleys, this transitional month invites adventurers to embrace the last flurries of winter and the early hints of spring, promising an array of exhilarating activities against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty.

1. Explore Glacier National Park

A snow-covered slope with trees in Montana.

During March, Glacier National Park offers a unique opportunity to experience the park in a different light.

While most of the Going-to-the-Sun Road is closed due to snow, the lower elevation sections remain open all year, providing access to a variety of outdoor activities.

Visitors can enjoy cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and wildlife watching at locations such as Apgar Village and Lake McDonald Lodge in March, nestled alongside the picturesque alpine Lake McDonald.

Hiking to Avalanche Lake is also a popular choice for outdoor adventurers seeking to immerse themselves in the stunning alpine views.

It’s important to note that hiking trails can be more challenging in March due to lingering snow cover, so hikers should be prepared with appropriate gear.

Always be sure to check the weather forecast before setting out and pack accordingly to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Despite the winter conditions, Glacier National Park still offers amazing views and opportunities for outdoor exploration during the month of March.

2. Experience Yellowstone National Park

Hot springs in Yellowstone National Park, Montana.

March in Yellowstone National Park is a haven for winter enthusiasts, offering a blend of snowy adventures and natural marvels.

While winter holds its grip, lower-elevation trails provide perfect grounds for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, revealing the park’s serene beauty.

Note that during March, Yellowstone National Park is only accessible through the northern entrance in Gardiner, Montana, the West Yellowstone entrance is closed during the winter season.

Amid the snow-draped landscape, the Old Faithful Winter Lodge and Mammoth Spring Lodge remain open, providing essential services.

Don’t miss a chance to unwind in the soothing hot springs at Mammoth Hot Springs, a serene escape from the winter chill.

Guided skiing and snowshoeing tours enrich the experience, offering insights into the park’s wonders while traversing the snow-covered terrains.

March offers an array of wildlife viewing; iconic creatures like bison, bighorn sheep, and elk stand out vividly against the snowy backdrop.

3. Hit the Slopes at Whitefish Mountain Resort

A mountain covered in snow in Montana.

Whitefish Mountain Resort stands tall as a skiing haven with 3,000 acres of terrain, 11 chairlifts, and mesmerizing views of Glacier National Park.

March brings a quieter vibe, making it an ideal time to relish this world-class experience with fewer crowds and a more immersive feel.

The resort also offers various lodging options at Whitefish Mountain Resort Lodging, offering a range of accommodations from budget hotel rooms to luxury mountain homes.

When it’s time to dine, the resort spoils people who visit with diverse options. Here are some options that you should check out:

  • Base Lodge Café & Bar
  • Base Lodge Coffee Bar
  • Ed & Mully’s
  • Hellroaring Saloon & Eatery
  • The Summit House
  • The Bierstube

Besides skiing, Whitefish Mountain Resort provides a range of shops catering to ski and snowboard rentals, gift items, and clothing, with options to buy gear and equipment.

Entertainment isn’t limited to the slopes; live music and events pepper the winter season, adding zest to the snowy landscape.

Indulge beyond skiing with the resort’s amenities, including a spa, fitness center, and indoor pool.

Some lodging options also offer extra perks like game rooms and concierge services, ensuring a well-rounded and luxurious stay at Whitefish Mountain Resort.

If you are far from Whitefish Ski Resort’s proximity, you can also check other ski resorts such as the Bridger Ski Resort in Bozeman, or the Big Sky Resort in Big Sky. 

4. Tour Around Flathead Lake

Flathead Lake in March

Touring Flathead Lake in March offers a unique and stunning experience, despite the potential chilly weather.

The scenic drive along Highway 93 on the western shore, especially between Creston and Bigfork, boasts breathtaking views.

The stretch from Big Arm to Rollins is particularly awe-inspiring, showcasing the lake’s expansive beauty.

Flathead Lake isn’t just about views; it’s a hub of attractions. Explore lakeside orchards, Flathead Lake State Park, and the Wild Horse Island State Park, the lake’s largest island accessible by boat or kayak.

Nearby, the artsy town of Bigfork beckons with galleries, boutiques, and a charming waterfront, complemented by delightful culinary experiences.

The lake offers more than sightseeing. Engage in guided fishing, boat charters, or kayak tours to immerse yourself in nature and witness the abundant wildlife.

As winter traditions to spring, consider the complete loop tour on U.S. Highway 93, Montana Highway 82, and Montana Highway 35 for a scenic route along the shore, presenting an amazing trip full of stunning views and unforgettable moments.

5. Embark on a Fly Fishing Trip

A man is fishing in a snowy river in Montana.

March opens up a fantastic window for fly fishing in Montana, boasting a variety of rivers, streams, and still waters waiting to be explored.

The Yellowstone River, Madison River, Missouri River, and Gallatin River are popular spots for anglers seeking trout-filled waters in March.

Montana hosts an array of fish species, including rainbow trout, brown trout, cutthroat trout, brook trout, and more, offering diverse fly fishing experiences.

March sees insects like Skwala, March Brown, and Nemoura, making these fly patterns particularly effective during this time.

Expert guides in Montana curate exceptional fly fishing trips along the state’s Blue Ribbon wild trout waters.

These trips range from day excursions to lodging packages and wilderness camping experiences, catering to anglers of all levels.

However, March’s weather and water conditions can fluctuate. Anglers might need to adapt to low-water tactics or navigate occasional high-water events.

6. Visit the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center

A brown bear standing up in the snow in Montana.

Located in West Yellowstone, Montana, the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center serves as a haven for rescued grizzlies, black bears, gray wolves, and otters.

Positioned at the North entrance of Yellowstone National Park, this center offers a unique opportunity to witness wildlife up close.

People who visit can encounter two distinct wolf packs and observe eight different grizzlies within the center.

The main bear habitat in Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center provides a generous viewing area, allowing guests to witness these magnificent creatures foraging for food, whether outside or inside.

Beyond just observing, the Discovery Center offers engaging educational activities.

From bear spray demonstrations to wolf enrichment programs and keeper talks, visitors gain insight into these animals’ lives and conservation efforts.

The Junior Ranger program also adds a fun and educational element, allowing kids to learn about these animals and their habitats during their visit, fostering a deeper connection with wildlife conservation.

Montana in March Final Thoughts

A snow-covered slope in Montana in March.

March in Montana paints a captivating picture of contrasting landscapes and thrilling adventures.

The weather during this time of year is a rollercoaster ride transitioning from winter to spring. Expect a mix of snowy days, occasional sunshine, and fluctuating temperatures.

Average temperatures across different cities vary, with some areas experiencing milder conditions and others lingering in colder climates.

Snow is still prevalent in March, adding a picturesque layer to the landscapes. It’s a month when winter bows out, leaving behind a snowy backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts to explore.

From the majestic peaks of Glacier National Park to the tranquil waters of Flathead Lake, the state unfolds its natural wonders.

Wildlife emerges against the snowy backdrop, offering glimpses of nature’s magnificence.

Fly fishing is also popular, anglers in March often favor the Yellowstone River, Madison River, Missouri River, and Gallatin River, known for their abundance of trout-filled waters during this month.

Whether skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort, embarking on a fly fishing trip, or discovering rescued wildlife at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, March promises an immersive experience amidst its rugged beauty.

So pack your layers, embrace the unpredictable weather, and get ready to uncover the diverse treasures this picturesque state has to offer.

Montana in March FAQs

1. What’s Open at Yellowstone and Glacier National Park?

In Yellowstone, only two lodges within the park continue to operate during the winter season.

One is situated in Mammoth Hot Springs and can be reached by car, while the other, located at Old Faithful, requires access via over-snow vehicles like snowmobiles or snow coaches.

In Glacier National Park, the portion of Going-to-the-Sun Road from West Glacier to Lake McDonald Lodge is usually plowed and open year-round, weather permitting, but most other roads remain inaccessible by vehicle.

2. Where to Fly Fish in March?

The best places to fly fish in March in Montana are:

  • Yellowstone River
  • Madison River
  • Missouri River
  • Gallatin River

3. How Was the Weather Last March 2023?

In 2023, though temperatures weren’t extreme, March was a cold month, with above-normal precipitation near the foothills and drier conditions for the eastern plains.

Billings, in eastern Montana, had its snowiest March since 2002. It had a 28.6 °F average temperature with a total precipitation of 1.5 inches.

4. Is There Snow in Montana in March?

The National Weather Service also indicates that Montana can experience significant snowfall during March, with reports of up to 50 inches of snow falling in certain areas during winter/spring storms.

Enjoyed this article? Here are more articles that will keep you informed about Montana:

Photo of author

Written by:

Ashley Smith
Hello there! I'm Ashley Smith, born on a chilly winter's day, Montana has been my playground since childhood. The first snowfall of the year always brings back memories of building snowmen and winter hikes. Co-founding was my way of sharing the magic of Montana's seasons with the world. While Chris dives deep into the landscapes, I'm obsessed with Montana's rich culture, from the local festivals to the tales passed down generations.

Leave a Comment