Visiting Yellowstone in May

Visiting Yellowstone in May is one of our favorite times to go! It’s the season for raging waterfalls and baby wildlife! Use this Yellowstone National Park travel guide to help you decide if May is a good time to plan your vacation.

We share fun things to see, do, and photograph in May at Yellowstone. As well as weather and temperatures, what to pack, where to stay, and services available.

Yellowstone National Park in May

In May, the Yellowstone roads, services, and lodges are starting to open. It will be important to know in advance what’s available for the timeframe you’ll visit the park.

Use our Yellowstone National Park packing list to make sure you have the right clothing and gear for visiting in May! Grab your free printable packing checklist by clicking the image below!

Yellowstone packing list Optin box
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Visiting Yellowstone in May

Yellowstone waterfalls and a wildlife baby boom are the best reasons to plan a May vacation to Yellowstone!

This park is a bucket list destination for a reason, and May is one of the best times to visit Yellowstone National Park.

But the biggest drawback to a trip in May are the roads and unpredictable weather. The East Entrance opens in early May; the South Entrance opens in mid May; and Dunraven Pass opens at the end of May.

Also, when it snows, roads will close until they are plowed and safe for vehicles. Be sure to keep current on the Yellowstone road closure status and check current park conditions.

Yellowstone Weather in May

The Yellowstone National Park weather in May is still cold and it may snow at any time. The average temperatures are a high of 53 and low of 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

Definitely pack your winter clothing gear and wear layers since the mornings and evenings are still cold!

You’ll want base layers like thermals, mid layers like fleece, and insulated outer layers:

Services at Yellowstone in May

Mammoth Hot Springs to the Northeast Entrance is the only part of the park open to wheeled vehicles year-round. The road is open up to Cooke City, Montana, after which the road is closed (no through-traffic to Red Lodge, Montana or Cody, Wyoming). Services are very limited between Mammoth Hot Springs and Cooke City, Montana.

The East Entrance opens in early May; the South Entrance opens in mid May; and Dunraven Pass opens at the end of May. Be sure to check the website for the spring opening dates for the Yellowstone roads.

Here are the services available when the roads are open to provide access to these areas. Always check the Yellowstone operating hours and seasons for the most updated information:

Mammoth Hot Springs:

  • Albright Visitor Center
  • General Store
  • Mammoth Campground
  • Mammoth Clinic
  • Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, Grill, Gift Shop
  • Post Office
  • Mammoth Service Station

Tower-Roosevelt and the Northeast:

  • Tower Fall General Store – opens late May
  • Tower-Roosevelt Service Station – credit card fueling only 24-hours

Old Faithful area:

  • Old Faithful Visitor Education Center
  • Old Faithful Lodge, Grill, Gift Shop
  • Old Faithful Inn – opens early May
  • Old Faithful Lodge Cabins – opens mid-May
  • Old Faithful General Store
  • Old Faithful Clinic
  • Old Faithful Service Station

Canyon Area:

  • Canyon Visitor Education Center
  • Canyon Service Station
  • Canyon Campground – opens the end of May
  • Canyon Lodges and Cabins – opens mid- to late May
  • Canyon General Store – opens mid-May

Madison and the West:

  • West Yellowstone Visitor Center
  • Madison Campground – open early May

Norris Geyser Basin:

  • Norris Geyser Basin Museum – opens late May

Bridge Bay:

  • Bridge Bay Campground – opens mid-May

Lake Village:

  • Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins – opens mid-May
  • Lake Post Office – open early May

West Thumb, Grant and the South:

  • Grant Village Lake House Restaurant – opens late May
  • Grant Village Lodge – opens late May
  • Grant Visitor Center – opens late May
  • Grant Village Mini Store – opens mid-May
  • Grant Village Post Office – opens late May
  • Grant Village Service Station – opens late May – credit card fueling only 24-hours
  • West Thumb Information Station – opens late May

Fishing Bridge:

  • Fishing Bridge RV Park – opens mid-May
  • Fishing Bridge General Store – opens mid-May
  • Fishing Bridge Service Station – opens mid-May – credit card fueling only 24-hours

Things to Do at Yellowstone in May

By the end of May all roads in Yellowstone should be open, depending on weather. Know in advance the regions of the park that are open for the dates you’ll visit in May.

Here’s a list of things to do at Yellowstone National Park during the month of May.

Yellowstone scenic drive
Yellowstone scenic drive

Yellowstone Scenic Drives in May

Yellowstone covers over 2 million acres of land! It’s divided into 2 main sections and 9 areas. You’ll find two scenic drive loops within the park, as well as other stunning Yellowstone scenic drives outside the park!

Yellowstone National Park Southern Loop Scenic Drive:

There are three entrances to access the southern loop of Yellowstone: West (West Yellowstone), South (Grand Teton), and East (Cody).

There are seven areas in the southern loop of Yellowstone:

  • Madison
  • Old Faithful
  • Lake
  • West Thumb Geyser Basin
  • Grant Village
  • Canyon
  • Norris

Yellowstone National Park Northern Loop Scenic Drive:

There are two entrances with direct access to the north loop of Yellowstone: North (Gardiner) and Northeast (Cooke City).

There are four areas in the northern loop of Yellowstone:

  • Mammoth
  • Tower-Roosevelt
  • Canyon
  • Norris

There are so many points of interest to see along these drives! We HIGHLY recommend downloading the GyPSy Yellowstone Audio Tour App to hear fun behind-the scenes stories and local tips that play automatically as you drive, based on your GPS location in the park!

Lower Falls at Yellowstone
Lower Falls

Yellowstone Hiking in May

The Yellowstone hiking trails will probably be wet and muddy, and many might still have snow or ice. Check with the rangers at the Visitor Center to get current conditions.

Here’s a list of easy hikes in Yellowstone National Park as well as a few moderate and strenuous hiking trails:

Yellowstone Waterfalls in May

May is one of the best times to see and take pictures of all the Yellowstone waterfalls. The rivers and waterfalls at Yellowstone in the spring are full and raging from the snow runoff. You can see, hear and feel the power of the water as it rushes by.

Most of the waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park don’t require hiking to see them. Here’s a list of the main waterfall attractions:

  • Canyon: Lower and Upper Falls, Brink of Upper Falls
  • Firehole Falls
  • Gibbon Falls
  • Kepler Cascades
  • Lewis Falls
  • Moose Falls
  • Tower Fall
  • Undine Falls
Hot pool at Yellowstone

Yellowstone Geysers and Hot Springs in May

The color in the hot springs really stand out in the sun so May is a great time to see these amazing attractions!

There are five types of hydrothermal features you’ll see in Yellowstone: geysers, hot springs, mudpots, travertine terraces and fumaroles. Check out the NPS website for the latest geyser eruption predictions!

Here’s a list of the best places to see these wonders:

Yellowstone Wildlife in May

May is one of the best times to visit yellowstone for wildlife because of all the baby animals! You may see black bear and grizzly bear cubs, bison calves (known as red dogs due to their reddish-brown color), and elk calves.

Mothers will be VERY PROTECTIVE of their young so give them all space. As you drive through the park, remember the parameters to keep you and the animals safe!

  • Never approach animals. The animals in Yellowstone are wild and unpredictable, no matter how calm they appear to be.
  • The safest (and often best) view of wildlife is from inside a car. Always stay at least 100 yards (91 m) away from bears and wolves, and at least 25 yards (23 m) away from all other animals, including bison and elk.
  • Never feed wildlife. Animals that become dependent on human food may become aggressive toward people and have to be killed. Keep all food, garbage, or other smelly items packed away when not in use.
  • Never park in the road or block traffic. Use pullouts to watch wildlife and let other cars pass. Stay with your vehicle if you encounter a wildlife jam.

Some of the best places to see wildlife in Yellowstone National Park are Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley, along the Madison River from West Yellowstone to Madison, and near Tower!

elk and fawn at Yellowstone in the spring
Elk and fawn at Yellowstone in the spring

Yellowstone Photography in May

When it comes to photography, be prepared for anything! That way you are ready to capture the moment when it happens. We always have our camera ready to go because the wildlife you may see won’t wait for you to find the camera in your car.

In May the weather is unpredictable from hour to hour and day to day. You’ll experience sun, snow, clouds, fog, and frost that will create mood to you landscape scenes.

Of course you’ll want to photograph the waterfalls, rivers and look for reflections when taking pictures at Yellowstone.

Yellowstone Tours in May

Taking a tour helps you see many parts of Yellowstone that you might not see on your own. Here’s a list of Yellowstone Summer Tours you can book in May:

Yellowstone maps and guides

Where to Stay Near Yellowstone

There are a variety of places to stay at Yellowstone National Park so you can find the lodging options that you and your family will love.

Places to stay in West Yellowstone

Places to stay in Gardiner

Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate

plan your dream vacation to yellowstone

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