Is May a good time to visit Yellowstone National Park? New Update 2023

Yellowstone National Park is a world-renowned national park located primarily in the U.S. states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. It was established as the first national park in the world in 1872 and is known for its vast wilderness, geothermal features, and diverse wildlife. The park covers an area of over 2.2 million acres and offers visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.

May is a fantastic time to visit Yellowstone National Park. It marks the beginning of the park’s spring season when the landscape comes alive with blooming wildflowers, and many of its roads and facilities reopen after winter closures. Additionally, May falls within the shoulder season, meaning fewer crowds than in the peak summer months, allowing for a more tranquil and immersive experience. 

A visit to Yellowstone in May promises an unforgettable adventure surrounded by breathtaking nature, the chance to observe iconic wildlife, and opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and more.

Weather and Climate in May in Yellowstone:

A. In May, the weather in Yellowstone can be quite variable. The average temperature during the day ranges from 45°F to 65°F (7°C to 18°C), but it can drop significantly at night, often below freezing. Visitors should be prepared for changing weather conditions and pack accordingly with layers, warm clothing, and waterproof gear.

B. Unpredictable weather patterns, including occasional snowfall and rain, characterize may. While the park starts to emerge from winter, some areas may still have snow cover, especially at higher elevations. As the snow melts, the waterfalls and rivers are at their most majestic, making it a great time for photography and witnessing the power of nature.

C. One of the significant benefits of visiting Yellowstone in May is the shoulder season advantages. With fewer tourists, visitors can enjoy more intimate wildlife encounters, less crowded viewpoints, and a greater sense of serenity while exploring the park’s natural wonders.

Accommodation Options:

A. In May, most of the park’s lodges and campgrounds start to reopen for the season. However, availability can be limited, especially at the beginning of the month. It is advisable to book accommodations well in advance to secure preferred options.

B. Booking in advance ensures visitors have a place to stay inside the park, offering easy access to the major attractions. Staying within the park allows for early morning and late evening visits to popular sites, maximizing the chances of spotting wildlife.

C. For those unable to find lodging inside the park, several recommended options are just outside the park’s entrances, including hotels, cabins, and campgrounds. These accommodations provide convenient access to Yellowstone while offering a range of amenities.

Must-See Attractions and Landmarks:

A. Iconic Geysers:

Yellowstone is famous for its geothermal features, and a visit to the park is incomplete without witnessing the eruptions of iconic geysers like Old Faithful, Beehive Geyser, and Riverside Geyser.

B. Magnificent Waterfalls:

Yellowstone boasts several stunning waterfalls, including the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River, which can be observed from various viewpoints like Artist Point and Inspiration Point.

C. Picturesque Grand Prismatic Spring and Other Colorful Hot Springs:

The Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot spring in the park, known for its vibrant colors. Other must-visit hot springs include the Sapphire Pool and the Morning Glory Pool.

D. Wildlife Watching Opportunities:

Yellowstone is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, offering the chance to spot bears, wolves, bison, elk, and other animals. The Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are particularly popular for wildlife viewing.

Visiting Yellowstone in june
Source – REI

E. Scenic Drives and Viewpoints:

The park offers numerous scenic drives, such as the Grand Loop Road, which takes visitors to various viewpoints and attractions. Artist Point and Lamar Valley provide stunning panoramic landscapes and wildlife views.

With its natural wonders, diverse wildlife, and thrilling outdoor experiences, a trip to Yellowstone in May guarantees an unforgettable journey through one of the world’s most remarkable national parks.

Outdoor Activities and Hiking:

A. Hiking trails suitable for May conditions:

  • In May, many lower-elevation hiking trails are accessible, offering beautiful views and opportunities to see wildlife and blooming wildflowers. Some popular trails include:
    • Uncle Tom’s Trail: A short but steep hike that takes you to a viewpoint of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.
    • Fairy Falls Trail: A moderate hike leading to the stunning Fairy Falls and the Grand Prismatic Spring overlook.
    • Mystic Falls Trail: A moderately easy hike to observe the picturesque Mystic Falls in the Biscuit Basin area.
  • It’s essential to check with park rangers for current trail conditions and any potential bear activity or closures.

B. Exploring the backcountry and wilderness areas:

  • May marks the opening of backcountry camping, and permits are required for overnight stays.
  • Experienced hikers can explore remote areas like the Bechler Region or the Thorofare Region, which provide opportunities to immerse in the pristine wilderness.

C. Fishing opportunities and regulations:

  • Fishing season opens in May, and anglers can enjoy fly and catch-and-release fishing in various rivers and streams within the park.
  • A Yellowstone National Park fishing permit is required, and visitors should adhere to each waterway’s specific regulations and fishing seasons.
Yellowstone In June
Source – Montana Angler

D. Boating and kayaking options on Yellowstone Lake:

  • Yellowstone Lake starts to thaw in May, allowing for boating and kayaking opportunities.
  • Visitors can rent boats or kayaks or join guided tours to explore the lake’s secluded bays and admire its beautiful shoreline. If you want to explore in winter here you know all the details.

Safety and Park Regulations:

A. Important safety tips for May visitors:

  • Wildlife encounters: Keep safe from animals, especially bears and bison. Always carry bear spray and know how to use it.
  • Weather hazards: Be prepared for sudden weather changes, especially at higher elevations. Carry rain gear, warm clothing, and extra supplies.
  • Respect trail closures: Some trails may be closed due to bear activity or snow conditions. Follow all trail closures for your safety and the protection of wildlife.

B. Park regulations and guidelines for responsible tourism:

  • Stay on designated trails and boardwalks to protect delicate thermal areas and prevent injuries.
  • Follow Leave No Trace principles, including proper waste disposal and respecting wildlife habitats.
  • Adhere to fishing regulations and practice catch-and-release fishing to preserve the park’s ecosystems.

C. Information on road closures and potential trail restrictions:

  • Check the park’s website or visitor centers for up-to-date information on road closures and trail restrictions due to weather conditions or wildlife activity.

Tips for Making the Most of the Trip

A. Sunrise and sunset photography spots:

  • Capture stunning images at sunrise or sunset by visiting spots like the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Lamar Valley, or the shores of Yellowstone Lake.

B. Recommended wildlife viewing areas and best practices:

  • Lamar Valley and Hayden Valley are known for their abundant wildlife. Use binoculars or a telephoto lens to observe animals from a safe distance.

C. Where to find lesser-known, less crowded spots:

  • Visit lesser-known areas like the Tower Fall region or the Blacktail Plateau for a quieter experience and a chance to spot wildlife away from the crowds.
Yellowstone in June
Source – Wallpaper Flare

D. Suggested itineraries for a 3-day, 5-day, or 7-day visit:

  • Three days: Focus on the park’s main attractions, such as the geysers, waterfalls, and wildlife hotspots.
  • Five days: Add in some moderate hikes and explore additional thermal areas and scenic drives.
  • Seven days: Venture into the backcountry for longer hikes and immerse yourself in the park’s remote wilderness.


A. Recap of the attractions and activities Yellowstone offers in May: From geothermal wonders to abundant wildlife, May provides visitors with a diverse and captivating experience.

B. Encouragement to plan and book early due to its popularity: As one of the most popular national parks, accommodations and tours tend to fill up quickly, so early planning is recommended.

C. The unforgettable experiences and memories to be made in this unique national park: Yellowstone’s beauty and the opportunity to connect with nature and wildlife make it an extraordinary destination that will leave visitors with lasting memories.

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