Canyonlands National Park in May is a wonderful time to visit since it’s not yet too hot!
Use our tips below and our Canyonlands National Park guide to plan your May vacation.
Canyonlands in May is a popular season so expect crowds!
We share tips to avoid the crowds, things to do, what to pack, where to stay and more.
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National Park Packing List
When you are visiting any national park it is important to be prepared. This includes wearing the proper clothes and shoes to be comfortable for the climate and the terrain.
→ CHECK OUT: National park packing list for summer and winter
For most national parks you will want to bring:
- Hiking shoes – we like Merrell Moab and Oboz hiking shoes
- Hiking socks – we always wear Darn Tough socks to keep our feet happy!
- Lots of Water – carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack
- Food – healthy food that’s portable and filling!
- Lip Balm – get lip balm with UV protection
- Sunscreen – sun protection is important in the summer and winter!
- Hand sanitizer – travel hand sanitizer is good for those times when you can’t wash your hands thoroughly!
- Flashlight or headlamp – a headlamp is perfect for those morning or evening hikes
- Maps of the park – national park maps are essential if you’ll do any hiking
- Guide book for the park – national park guide books are a wonderful resource to keep with you!
- Sunglasses – UV sunglasses are good for summer and winter
- First aid kit – carry a first aid kit in your car and in your backpack when hiking
- Insect repellent – bug bites are no fun!
- Camera gear – DOWNLOAD the free checklist!
TOP REASON TO VISIT CANYONLANDS NATIONAL PARK IN MAY
The weather at Canyonlands National Park in May is a great time to explore the park because it will be cool in the mornings and evenings, and the daytime temperatures aren’t too hot compared to the summer.
There is not much shade to be found at Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or Needles Canyonlands, so it’s nice to be in the park on a sunny day when the air isn’t stifling! It makes hiking so much more enjoyable!
Utah National Parks get crowded during the peak seasons of spring, summer and fall.
Canyonlands and Arches and the Moab area are popular destinations. We recommend getting into Canyonlands early or later in the day to avoid lines into the park.
If you plan on visiting Arches National Park as well, note that the park is doing a TIMED ENTRY pilot program April through October, 2022.Timed entry tickets will be required to enter the park from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily and will allow visitors to enter the park during a one-hour specified window of availability. After entering, visitors may stay in the park as long as they wish for the remainder of the day. Reservation holders may exit and re-enter the park on the same day with a correctly validated ticket.
Visitors can book reservations first-come, first-served on Recreation.gov. The park will release reservations three months in advance in monthly blocks.
CANYONLANDS WEATHER IN MAY
The weather at Canyonlands National Park in May is “just right” with cooler mornings and evenings, and daytime temperatures are still moderate.
Keep in mind the weather can be unpredictable if a storm rolls through with rain.
The average highs are near 82 degrees with the lows around 51.
HIKING IN MAY
In May the Canyonlands hikes are so nice because the sun is out and it’s not overly hot. This is quite different from summer when you’re sweating and worrying about heat exhaustion.
Remember to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen because most of the Island in the Sky hikes and Needles hikes are fully exposed to the sun.
PHOTOGRAPHY IN MAY
Photography at Canyonlands is so rewarding. CHECK OUT our Arches and Canyonlands photography guide to capitalize on all the best places and times to take pictures in the park!
Mesa Arch at sunrise is the most popular photo spot in Canyonlands. In May you won’t have this location to yourself so be patient.
PHOTO TIP: The glow on the bottom side of Mesa Arch lasts a long time. We like to wait for all the sunrise photographers to get their shots and leave, then we usually have the place to ourselves!
STARGAZING IN MAY
Definitely take one evening to stay after the sun set and LOOK UP!
The slogan “Half the Park is After Dark” encourages visiting at night to simply Look up! On a clear night, the sky is literally filled with stars.
In May you can see the milky way from 11pm to 4am. Yes, it makes for a late night, but the effort is so rewarding!
Canyonlands National Park is internationally recognized as one of the best places for stargazing because of its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies.
Canyonlands is a popular destination for astrophotographers so you won’t be alone in the park at night.
FAQ’S FOR VISITING IN APRIL
Is Canyonlands National Park Open in May?
Canyonlands National Park is open 24/7. Visit the NPS site to get the updated operating hours.
Is May a Good Time to Visit Canyonlands National Park?
Looking for the best time to Visit Canyonlands National Park?
May is a terrific time for visiting Canyonlands National Park! But it’s also a popular vacation month so be sure to enter the park early, leave when it gets crowded, then go back in the afternoon!
What Park Activities Can You Do May?
- A good way to get to know more about Canyonlands is to participate in ranger-led hikes and campfire talks.
- You can watch the park orientation film at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky Visitor Center, which is open seven days a week – check the website for operating hours.
- Kids can earn a Junior Ranger badge (Junior Ranger booklet). Get more details at the visitor center.
WHERE TO STAY NEAR CANYONLANDS
There are no lodging facilities in the park, but there are campgrounds.
Here are 4 places we recommend:
- Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Moab – we enjoyed our stay and highly recommend this hotel due to its location close to Canyonlands.
- Purple Sage – our all-time favorite place to stay in Moab – walking distance to shopping, full kitchen, and only 8 units so you don’t feel lost in a large hotel.
- Red Cliffs Lodge – rooms up to 6 people – located 17 miles from Moab, this lodge is known for its beautiful location, winery and activities like horseback riding, fishing and more!
- Townhomes south of town – we really like the townhomes in Spanish Valley with kitchen, washer and dryer in the unit and a swimming pool/hot tub (just a 5 minute drive south of Moab).
- Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!
Where to Stay Near Canyonlands Needles
There are no lodging facilities in the park, but there is one campground.
You can visit Needles and stay in Moab, and most people do that.
The town of Monticello is a bit closer to Needles, but the lodging, food and shopping options aren’t as good. It’s a much smaller town than Moab.