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 in Yellowstone. As well as what to pack, where to stay and services available.
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Yellowstone National Park Packing List
FREE DOWNLOAD: Printable Yellowstone Packing Lists
- Merrell Moab hiking shoes or Oboz hiking shoes
- Darn Tough hiking socks
- Water – carry a hydration pack or a refillable water bottle in your backpack
- Healthy food that’s portable and filling!
- Columbia fleece jacket
- Wicking, quick-drying clothing
- Lip balm with UV protection
- Sun protection – sunscreen (even in the winter) and a sunhat
- UV sunglasses are good for summer and winter
- Travel hand sanitizer
- Flashlight or headlamp
- US National Park travel guides and maps
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Camera gear – DOWNLOAD the free checklist!
Check out this resource if you’ll be packing for a winter vacation in Yellowstone
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT 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 road closure status and check current park conditions.
YELLOWSTONE WEATHER IN MAY
The 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!
Yellowstone & Grand Teton AUDIO TOUR
“Download the app to your phone – no cell or wifi service needed. Based on your GPS location, the app takes you on a guided tour of the park and points out all the interesting features and stops. It’s like having a park ranger in the car with you.”
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
Hiking in May at Yellowstone
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 hikes in the park:
- Mammoth Hot Springs
- Old Faithful
- Lake and Fishing Bridge
- Tower and Northeast
- West Thumb and Grant
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
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:
- Old Faithful, Upper and Lower Geyser Basin
- Grand Prismatic (Midway Geyser Basin)
- Norris Geyser Basin
- West Thumb Geyser Basin
- Mud Volcano
- Fountain Paint Pot
- Mammoth Hot Springs
Wildlife at Yellowstone 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.
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 Maps and Guides at Amazon:
Yellowstone Tours and Day Trips
- Yellowstone Tours
- Yellowstone Summer Tours
- Day Trips at Yellowstone
- Outdoor Activities at Yellowstone
- Attractions at Yellowstone
Places to stay in West Yellowstone
- Holiday Inn, West Yellowstone
- ClubHouse Inn, West Yellowstone
- Kelly Inn, West Yellowstone
- West Yellowstone hotels!
Places to stay in Gardiner
- Yellowstone Gateway Inn, Gardiner – full kitchen and comfy bed, one of our favorite places to stay!
- Park Hotel Yellowstone, Gardiner – charming place to stay and loved by guests!
- Absaroka Lodge, Gardiner – beautiful location with river views!
- Gardiner hotels!
Places to stay in Cooke City or Silver Gate
- Sunny Log Home on the Creek, Silver Gate (VRBO) – the most AMAZING location with an awesome fireplace and comfy bed!
- High Country Motel and Cabins – local owners who love what they do, and make you feel so welcome!
- Rent an RV – have it dropped off at your vacation destination!