Places to Visit in the Southwest in May

Visiting the US Southwest in late spring you’ll find the weather is fantastic – not too hot and not too cold. There are a number of places to visit in the Southwest in May to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities!

In May, the Southwest United States enjoys a temperate climate, making it an ideal time for travel and exploration. Daytime temperatures typically range from the mid-70s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit, providing comfortable conditions for outdoor activities without the intense heat common in the summer month

places to visit in the US Southwest in May

We find May the perfect time of year to explore the Southwest region of the United States. Our travel friends agree and were happy to share their favorite US Southwest vacation ideas and places to visit in May in these states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.

The key to enjoying your Southwest USA May vacation is being prepared with the right clothing and gear for the activities you want to do! Be sure to check the weather for the location you’ll be visiting for the time you’ll be there. Grab your free spring packing list printable by clicking the image below!

Spring National Park Packing List
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Packing for a May Vacation in the US Southwest

When planning a Southwest USA road trip, ensuring you have the right supplies can make all the difference.

Here’s a quick checklist of road trip accessories to get you started:

  1. Navigation tools: A good old-fashioned map and a reliable GPS device are essential when driving through the Southwest. Remember, internet signal in remote desert areas can be spotty at best!
  2. Car essentials: Keep your car in check with a spare tire, jumper cables, and some basic tools. Also, don’t forget your driver’s license, car insurance, and registration documents.
  3. Safety equipment: A first-aid kit, sunscreen, and a flashlight are non-negotiable. In the desert, temperatures can drop drastically at night, so pack some warm clothing too.
  4. Food and water: Pack enough water and non-perishable road trip snacks and Food to last a few days. It’s better to be prepared, especially when traveling through isolated areas.
  5. Entertainment: Lastly, don’t forget some road trip games, a good book or two, and some music playlists to keep you entertained during those long drives.

Our day hike packing list for the Southwest in May includes:

It’s important to stay hydrated since the US Southwest is a dry, desert environment. Due to the dry climate, you’ll also want lip balm and lotion!

map of vacation spots in the US Southwest to visit in May

Map of Southwest Places to Visit in May

Here is a map of places to visit in the Southwest in May to help you plan your travel itinerary! This map indicates the various vacation spots in the region we, and our travel friends, recommend you visit in the month of May.

Your Southwest road trip should include the GuideAlong App!! You’ll hear behind-the-scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location as you drive through the area! We HIGHLY RECOMMEND this app!!

Places to Visit in the Southwest in May

For this article, we’ve compiled a list of favorite places to visit in May in these Southwest states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. This list is based on travel by us and our travel friends to these locations in May.

If you plan to visit a US National Park in May, be sure to check if the National Park list of reservations required for entry or specific activities for the dates you’ll be visiting. 

After reading about all these fun locations to visit, you’ll find yourself ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through the American Southwest in May!

Antelope Canyon X
Antelope Canyon X

Antelope Canyon, Arizona in May

Antelope Canyon is a must-see slot canyon located in Page, Arizona. You cannot go through Antelope Canyon without a tour. The canyon is on protected Navajo Nation land, so visitors must be accompanied by an authorized guide to experience the canyon. 

In May, temperatures typically range from 60°F to 80°F. Plus the midday sunlight this time of year is ideal for creating vibrant colors and contrast within the canyon. The unique rock formations and constantly changing light create endless opportunities for capturing stunning photos.

Antelope Canyon X Photo Tour is the one guided tour we found that specifically caters to photographers. This Taadidiin Tour allows you to take one camera bag and tripod into the canyon for 2.5 hours! Our guide provided tips on the best locations to capture the most amazing shots in the canyon.

There were other hiking tours going through the canyon while we were there, but the guides were very accommodating to wait for us to get our shot the move aside to allow their group through. They also told their group to “watch out for the tripods” as they passed. We highly recommend this photography tour to Canyon X. We had plenty of time and didn’t feel rushed at all! (Photo and Recommendation by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)

Page Lodging & Tours

Hiking in Boulder, Colorado
Hiking in Boulder

Boulder, Colorado in May

Visiting Boulder, Colorado, in May offers a unique blend of outdoor adventure and cultural experiences, with mild temperatures averaging 72°F (22°C). You’ll enjoy tulips blooming on Pearl’s Street’s pedestrian area, with the snow-capped Rocky Mountains as a backdrop. The weather is perfect for exploring Boulder’s abundant hiking trails, such as the iconic Flatirons, or enjoying walks along the Boulder Creek Path.

May also marks the beginning of Boulder’s event season. The Boulder Creek Festival typically takes place over Memorial Day weekend, offering live music, food, crafts, and a Rubber Ducky race. Visit Boulder’s Farmers Market to enjoy live music and shop for the region’s fresh, local produce and artisan goods. Right next door, have tea at Boulder’s Dushanbe Teahouse, which was shipped in from Tajikistan and reconstructed in Boulder.

Don’t miss the Bolder Boulder 10k race on Memorial Day, which attracts thousands of runners and walkers each year. Race this or just go for a walk, enjoying the fun activities along the course.

With its unique combination of natural beauty, community events, and outdoor activities, Boulder in May is a great place to visit for a week or even a day trip. (Photo and Recommendation by Sonia, Carey on Travels)

Alien Throne Valley of Dreams in New Mexico
Alien Throne Valley of Dreams

Farmington, New Mexico in May

Farmington, New Mexico, may not be at the top of most bucket lists, but it deserves consideration. It’s a great place to stay to access the badlands of New Mexico which have some incredible hikes.

If you enjoy hoodoos, hiking, and otherworldly landscapes, this is an area you need to see. With highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s, May is a great time to explore the badlands.

The most famous formation in the badlands is Alien Throne in the Valley of Dreams. It is surrounded by other interesting rock formations and hoodoos as well, so don’t be afraid to explore the area.

Nearby you’ll also find the lesser known Valley of Dreams East and the balanced rock known as King of Wings. You’ll need a 4-wheel drive high clearance vehicle to make it out to all three of these hikes, and there are no facilities nearby so bring everything you need and pack everything back out when you leave. (Photo and Recommendation by Christine, Live Love Run Travel)

Mather Point at sunrise, Grand Canyon
Mather Point at sunrise

Grand Canyon South Rim in May

Visiting the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in May is an ideal time for hiking, photography, and soaking in the grandeur of one of nature’s most magnificent creations.

In May daytime temperatures typically range from highs of 70°F to lows of 39°F at night. However, the weather can be unpredictable, and sudden changes are not uncommon. Check the weather forecast so you’re prepared for varying conditions, including the possibility of late spring snowfall or rain showers.

We recommend spending one day to explore one of the most stunning US National Parks scenic drives! The 22-mile-long Desert View Drive offers scenic views of the Grand Canyon with numerous pullouts and viewpoints along the way. Each stop presents a unique vantage point to observe the deep chasms, winding river, and the colorful layers of rock that tell the story of the earth’s geological history. The drive culminates at the Desert View Watchtower, an iconic structure offering panoramic views of the canyon and the Colorado River. (Photo and Recommendation by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)

Grand Canyon Lodging & Tours

Southwest National Parks in May

Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada
The Wave at Valley of Fire State Park

Las Vegas, Nevada in May

If you’re looking for a getaway in May that offers both unique man made creations and stunning natural beauty, consider heading to Sin City itself—Las Vegas! 

While the town is, of course, known for its vibrant nightlife and debaucherous activities, there’s plenty of things to do during the daytime in Las Vegas to keep you entertained.

Fun activities include soaking up the sun by the pool, exploring the themed casinos, hiking on the beautiful trails of the nearby Valley of Fire State Park, and paddleboarding to the stunning Emerald Cave. 

If you’re going to enjoy some of Vegas’ natural outdoor beauty, just remember to head outside early in the day or later in the afternoon. It can get quite hot here—with an average high around 90 degrees, even in May—so remember to stay hydrated! (Photo and Recommendation by Jessica, Uprooted Traveler)

Las Vegas Lodging & Tours

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles California
Griffith Observatory

Los Angeles, California in May

Los Angeles in May is amazing. The weather is warm and sunny, perfect for doing lots of fun things outside. It is one of the best months to explore the city’s many attractions.

One of the must-visit places in LA is the Griffith Observatory. It is located high up and offers stunning views of the city during the day and the stars at night. The month of May is particularly great for stargazing, so make sure to add it to your itinerary.

For art enthusiasts, the Getty Center is a fantastic place to visit. It has incredible artworks and beautiful flower gardens. Like Griffith Observatory, it also offers panoramic views of Los Angeles.

If you’re in LA in May, visit one or two beaches. Santa Monica Beach is a perfect spot for a relaxing day by the sea, while Venice Beach boasts a lively boardwalk full of street performers and shops.

Whether you’re interested in exploring art, enjoying nature, or soaking up the beach vibe, LA in May offers exciting possibilities for everyone. (Photo and Recommendation by Gladis, Happiness on the Way)

Los Angeles Lodging & Tours

Turret Arch through the North Window at sunrise
Arches National Park in May

Moab, Utah in May

Visiting Moab in May expect high temperatures around 82 and lows around 51 degrees F. With the warmer daytime temperatures, you’ll want to stay hydrated and use sun protection. Utah’s high elevation and dry air can be hard on your skin so use lip balm with sunscreen and hydrating lotion in addition to sunscreen!

There are two National Parks and one State Park in the Moab area. You can explore these parks along the scenic drives, hiking trails or camping spots.

Arches National Park in May – You’ll need an Arches Timed Entry Ticket to enter the park from 7am to 4pm. Don’t worry if you didn’t get a timed entry ticket. Just plan to enter the park before or after those times. One benefit to getting in the park early is you can see and photograph the sunrise at Arches National Park!

Canyonlands National Park in May – Hiking is the most popular activity. Some of our favorite Island in the Sky hikes include Mesa Arch, Grand View Point, Aztec Butte and Upheaval Dome. Canyonlands Needles hikes that are easy include: Roadside Ruin, Pothole Point, Cave Spring. There are a few popular difficult hikes as well: Chelser Park Loop and Druid Arch trails.

Dead Horse Point State Park – Known for its stunning views of the Colorado River, dramatic vertical cliffs, canyons, and vista views. We highly recommend this location at sunset! (Photo and Recommendation by Dave & Jamie, Photo Jeepers)

Moab Lodging & Tours

Ruidoso, New Mexico
Midtown Ruidoso

Ruidoso, New Mexico in May

Ruidoso is one of the best places to visit in the South West in May. The cute mountain town in New Mexico is famous for stunning views, beautiful lakes and the famous horse races at Ruidoso Downs. May is the beginning of the racing season, so Ruidoso is an awesome place to be.

The weather in May in Ruidoso is very pleasant. Gone is the last snow of the season and spring is in full swing. You can experience mild weather with highs of around 70°F. The typical New Mexican summer heat hasn’t set in yet, so it is a great time to visit. 

In May you’ll also find a variety of other things to do in Ruidoso. First of all, you have to hike around Grindstone Lake and jump in there after a strenuous hike.

Midtown Ruidoso is also worth a visit. You can sample delicious wines at the Noisy Water Winery or go shopping for some authentic New Mexican pottery. Lastly, you should check out Ski Apache. In summer, you can go ziplining, mountain biking or hiking there.

Make sure to stay at the Inn of the Mountain Gods, a stunning resort nearby one of the famous lakes of Ruidoso. (Photo and Recommendation by Sabrina, New Mexico Insider)

8 Day Southwest Road Trip Guide

Sedona Mountain Range
Sedona Mountain Range

Sedona, Arizona in May

Sedona has everything for a family vacation: stunning red rocks, hiking trails and outdoor activities for the fit, nice hotels and restaurants with beautiful views, and more.

May is a good time to visit Sedona. With average high temperatures in the mid-60s to low 80s degrees F and lows that are refreshingly chilly, it’s perfect weather for Sedona’s outdoor activities like hiking and jeep tours.

If you are looking for an easy Sedona hiking trail, you can do the Bell Rock & Courthouse Butte Loop. Another popular but strenuous hike is the Cathedral Rock hike, this is about 1.2 miles long. 

Whether you are visiting Sedona for a quick stopover, or spending several days, you won’t be disappointed. Sedona is located halfway between Phoenix and the Grand Canyon. It makes for a good base to explore other areas including day trips to the Antelope Canyon and the Grand Canyon. (Photo and Recommendation by Shweta, Zest In A Tote)

Lodging & Tours in Sedona, Arizona

aebleskiver pancake balls
Aebleskiver Danish pancakes

Solvang, California in May

Solvang is a unique and adorable hidden gem in Southern California, also known as the “Danish Capital of America.” May is the perfect time to stroll the European streets and find lots of Danish treats. The charming town of Solvang is located just two hours from Los Angeles and 40 minutes from Santa Barbara.

There are plenty of fun things to do and eat in Solvang that are unique and memorable. Almost everything is walkable, which makes May a great time to visit. You can even pair a trip to Solvang with wine tastings in the Santa Ynez Valley. Adding to the Danish charm, there are six windmills in the area, a large red clog, and plenty of European style architecture. It feels like a fantasy fairy tale book in real life. 

The spring weather in Solvang is perfect for sitting on the patio at Copenhagen Sausage Garden with a beer and sausage. And of course, the classic aebleskiver pancake balls are a must-eat. You can even order at the takeout window from Solvang Restaurant and enjoy them at the park or while you walk around the town and soak up the Danish charm. (Photo and Recommendation by Hannah, Plate & Compass)

Solvang Lodging & Tours

Gunlock Falls near St. George
Gunlock Falls

St. George, Utah in May

St. George in Utah has been increasing in popularity over the recent years and with good reason. This city is surrounded by 5 stunning Utah State Parks and 1 National Park. 

Zion National Park is only an hour away from St. George which makes this the perfect home base if you don’t want to camp. Zion in May gets overly crowded which is fine because there are so many other gems nearby that tourists don’t know about.

There are a variety of things to do in St George like cliff jumping in Sand Hollow, hiking to the colorful Yant Flat, and waterfalls and slot canyons. On a good snow and rain year, check out Gunlock Falls! It’s typically very dry but when it flows, you don’t want to miss it.

May is the perfect time to visit St. George because the weather has started to warm up, but it isn’t unbearably hot like it can get in the summer. Thunderstorms can roll in sporadically but they typically pass quickly. (Photo and Recommendation by Tiffany, Follow Tiffs Journey)

St. George Lodging & Tours

Williams, Arizona sign
Williams, Arizona sign

Williams, Arizona in May

Williams, Arizona is perfect for young and young at heart seeking nostalgia for the Wild West. This small town with a big heart is right along famous Route 66, adding to the vintage setting. Free entertainment is offered in the center of town each evening, showcasing the world famous Cataract Creek Gang. The event is a delight for anyone who has ever wished to see a cowboy gunfight in the streets of a western town.

Williams is also your ticket to Grand Canyon National Park. Taking a train ride on the Grand Canyon Railway is an unforgettable way to see the Grand Canyon. In addition to the playful experience of being kidnapped by outlaw cowboys on a locomotive, you can listen to a cowpoke play his fiddle and tell stories, all the while watching beautiful views outside your train window. 

Other outdoors activities include hiking, fishing, or taking pictures of animals in the nearby Kaibab National Forest. Finally, there’s Bearizona Wildlife Park, a drive- thru zoo for viewing bears, wolves, and bison. 

Visiting Williams in May means enjoying 70 degree days and plenty of sunshine with only 3 days of rain for the month. (Photo and Recommendation by Jenn, Jenn Fisher Books)

Southwest Road Trip Packing List

Be sure to grab the Road Trip Packing List for your US Southwest adventure! It includes items for comfort, organization, eating, and first aid to make the family vacation a success. You’ll also receive a Road Trip Itinerary to plan the day-to-day schedule of the trip! Simply click the graphic below to get your free copy!

get the free road trip planner

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