Exploring National Parks on Your March Madness Tour

Natchez Trace Parkway

It’s the most wonderful time of year to be a basketball fan! With March Madness upon us, exciting games and surprising upsets are going to be the talk around the watercooler for the next few weeks. And if you're looking for something to do while you're in town for one of the games, you're in luck. These national parks are near some of 2017's hottest March Madness events, making them the perfect places to unwind and explore between games.

Midwest Regional

March 23 and 25, 2017

If you're attending the NCAA Midwest Regional Tournament in Kansas City, it's easy to stop and spend the afternoon at Harry S. Truman National Historic Site. This park includes the Truman Home in Independence, Missouri, and the Truman Farm Home in Grandview, Missouri, both of which are open to guided tours that shed light on the early life of our 33rd president.

Also in the Kansas City area is Brown v. Board National Historic Site, which interprets the legislation that ended legal segregation in public schools. Galleries, exhibits, and tours of the Monroe School building offer an opportunity to learn more about the history of segregation in America and the Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954.

West Regional

March 23 and 25, 2017

No trip to the 2017 NCAA Men's West Regional is complete without a visit to Pinnacles National Park, which offers some of central California's most striking scenery. The park's unique landforms offer unparalleled opportunities for hiking, climbing, sightseeing, and nature photography.

San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, also just an hour away from San Jose, is a beautiful waterfront park that offers a chance to explore the historic ships and piers of the iconic Fisherman's Wharf neighborhood.

South Regional

A line of canons overlook a field surrounded by tall trees at Shiloh National Military Park.
Forrest Thomas, Share the Experience

March 24 and 26, 2017

Shiloh National Military Park is just under two hours' drive from the Memphis location of the NCAA South Regional Tournament. Now a peaceful spot near the Tennessee River, this park was once the backdrop to one of the most brutal struggles of the Civil War.

Spring weather also gives you a perfect opportunity to take a drive on the scenic Natchez Trace Parkway. This stunning 444-mile route takes you through some of the most gorgeous and historic areas in Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. 

East Regional

A sailboat skims the open waters in front of Liberty Island where Statue of Liberty National Monument stands tall below the cloudy blue sky.
Shannon Davis Brier, Share the Experience

March 24 and 26, 2017

With the NCAA East Regional heading to New York City, you have an opportunity to visit more than a dozen National Park Service sites in the NYC area. Be sure to include Stonewall National Monument on your list. Established in 2016, this park preserves the site of the 1969 riots and is recognized as the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement. 

Out across the bay, Ellis Island represents a struggle of a different kind. From 1892 to 1954, approximately 12 million immigrants passed through the halls of Ellis Island, which is now open to the public as a part of Statue of Liberty National Monument.

Final Four

A view from the upper ruins of the Arizona landscape beneath cloudy blue skies at Tonto National Monument.
Sue Cullumber, Share the Experience

April 1 and 3, 2017

If you're lucky enough to attend the 2017 NCAA Final Four in Phoenix, be sure to take the time to visit nearby Tonto National Monument, which offers striking desert landscapes and beautifully preserved Native American cliff dwellings. 

You'll also find some incredible Native American ruins at Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, an ancient site where you can take a guided tour or self-guided hike, and stop for lunch at the picnic area. 

If you're looking for a way to get even more out of March Madness, the answer is simple — visit a national park near one of the tournament’s destinations! You'll find some of America's best parks just a short drive from this spring's biggest games.


I live near KC, MO and love that these two locations were highlighted. Reminds me what wonderful opportunities aren't that far from home. There so many others within a few hours of Kansas City in Kansas and Missouri! I encourage people to drive and stop for a while.
And what about the women's Final Four?: During Women's History Month, I find it unbelievable you only highlighted the men's NCAA tournament. Women also play basketball and the history-making UConn women's team has set records men's teams can only dream of. Please include the national parks sites near Lexington, Oklahoma City, Bridgeport, Stockton, and Dallas.

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