Here Are 12 of the Best National Parks to Visit in May

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If you’re thinking about traveling to a popular national park in May, you’re a smart person.

So give yourself a hearty pat on the back.

Typically, the late spring month of May means smaller crowds compared to the summer months of June, July, and August when kids are on summer break from school.

Plus you’ll enjoy mild temperatures, beautiful wildflowers, and fewer crowds, it’s the perfect time to discover some of the most breathtaking national parks in the world.

Whether you’re in search of adventure, relaxation, or stunning scenery, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll share our top picks for the best national parks to visit in May.

So pack your bags and let’s hit the road!

Arches National Park

Arches National Park, Utah

Arches National Park is a gorgeous destination that attracts visitors from around the globe. The month of May offers the ideal time to explore this natural wonder, thanks to mild spring weather conditions and fewer crowds.

May temperatures average around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, perfect for exploring the park’s many miles of hiking trails. Hiking is the most popular activity in Arches National Park, and May offers a comfortable climate for enjoying the unique rock formations and landscapes.

The month of May also offers the opportunity to witness the park’s wildflowers in full bloom, providing a picturesque background for photographs.

Moreover, May is a great time to visit Arches National Park because it falls before the peak tourist season, allowing visitors to enjoy the park without being overwhelmed by crowds.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a novice photographer, May at Arches National Park is an unforgettable experience worth checking out.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park is a splendid destination that offers travelers a marvelous experience. May is the perfect time to visit the park, with its temperate climate and smaller crowds.

During this month, temperatures are usually between 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an ideal season for outdoor activities like hiking and camping. The park’s many hiking trails, including the Rim Trail and Navajo Loop Trail, provide stunning views of the park’s distinctive rock formations, known as “hoodoos.”

In addition, stargazing in Bryce Canyon is a must-see activity due to the clear skies and minimal light pollution. Springtime in the park brings an increase in wildlife activity, such as mule deer and pronghorns.

May is also the ideal time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park before the peak summer tourist season, allowing for more tranquil exploration with fewer people.

Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, May is the ideal time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park and immerse yourself in its natural splendor.

Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Classic Teton Postcard

May is an exceptional month to visit Grand Teton National Park, especially for young travelers seeking adventure. The climate during this time of year is perfect for hiking, with temperatures averaging in the 60s and lower 70s Fahrenheit, making it comfortable for visitors.

The trails are more accessible with the snow mostly melted, providing a great opportunity to explore the park’s natural beauty. The wildflowers are in full bloom, painting the landscape with vibrant colors that are mesmerizing to the eyes.

Fewer crowds make it possible to enjoy the tranquility of the park, and there is a better chance of spotting wildlife such as elk, moose, and bears.

Furthermore, May is the time when many of the park’s facilities, including campgrounds and restaurants, reopen after winter closures, providing more options for accommodation and dining.

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, the Snake River is much calmer in May, making it perfect for kayaking and paddleboarding.

All in all, May offers a perfect balance of excellent warm weather, smaller crowds, awesome scenery, and thrilling outdoor activities that make it the ideal month to visit Grand Teton National Park.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio

Brandywine Falls - Cuyahoga Valley National Park - Ohio

May is an optimal period to explore Cuyahoga Valley National Park, nestled in the northeastern region of Ohio. The climate is delightful with moderate temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to mid-70s, great for outdoor enthusiasts who relish hiking and biking activities.

The park is renowned for its flourishing wildflowers, which peak in May, displaying a spectacular bloom. Visitors can indulge in guided wildflower walks, attend photography workshops, and participate in nature programs to discover the diverse flora and fauna of the park.

Additionally, May is the best month to experience the park’s waterfalls in their full grandeur. The spring rain and snowmelt make for an inspirational view of Brandywine Falls, one of the park’s most well-known cascades.

Tourists can also enjoy a picturesque train ride through the park. The migratory birds return to the area during May, making it a superb period for birdwatching.

Visitors can attend birdwatching walks and observe a variety of species such as warblers, woodpeckers, and raptors.

Finally, May is the off-peak season when the park is less crowded, providing a soothing atmosphere for nature enthusiasts to relish the park’s scenic beauty.

Zion National Park

Zion Canyon, 2018

May is a wonderful month to visit Zion National Park, particularly for young travelers. The climate during this time is warm and sunny, with temperatures ranging from 50 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, making it an ideal period for outdoor exploration and hiking.

Spring flowers are in full bloom throughout May, providing an attractive view of the park’s colorful wildflowers. Additionally, the Virgin River is at its peak, offering an exciting range of water activities like tubing and kayaking.

Visitors can also take advantage of the favorable weather conditions to indulge in rock climbing, with Zion’s climbing routes being some of the best in the world. May is less crowded than the peak summer months, providing a peaceful environment to enjoy the park’s natural beauty.

The month is also convenient for wildlife viewing, with newborn animals and migratory birds adding to the park’s already impressive array of flora and fauna.

Overall, May presents an excellent opportunity for young travelers to visit Zion National Park and appreciate its natural wonders.

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park- Santa Elena Canyon Entrance

Big Bend National Park, located in the southwestern part of Texas, is a popular destination for young travelers to visit in May.

The park offers mild weather, with an average temperature of around 82°F, providing an ideal climate for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and bird watching.

In addition, May is the best month to stargaze in the park, thanks to its remote location and clear skies. The month of May also marks the peak of the wildflower season, and visitors can enjoy the park’s Chihuahuan Desert’s vibrant flora, including colorful cacti and wildflowers.

The Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive offers a scenic drive, and visitors can explore the Santa Elena Canyon, which is at its best in May. Furthermore, May is an excellent time to spot wildlife, such as coyotes, black bears, and mountain lions.

Kayaking and rafting in the Rio Grande River, which flows through the park, are also popular water-based activities.

May is an optimal month to visit Big Bend National Park due to its delightful weather, awesome scenery, and the diverse range of activities it offers.

Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park Vista

May is one of the best months to visit Saguaro National Park. With a mild temperature, visitors can enjoy the park without feeling overwhelmed by the heat.

The park has a plethora of activities to offer visitors in May, including hiking, bird watching, and stargazing.

The cacti, which are the highlight of the park, are in full bloom during this time of year, making for an impressive sight. In addition to the stunning scenery, the park also hosts various events and workshops, including wildflower walks and guided hikes.

Visitors can also learn about the park’s history and culture through the various programs offered. May is also a great time to visit because the crowds are smaller than during peak season, allowing visitors to explore the park with more freedom.

Overall, May is a great time to visit Saguaro National Park, offering visitors a unique and memorable experience in the heart of the Sonoran Desert.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

medano creek morning

Great Sand Dunes National Park is a perfect destination to visit during the month of May due to several reasons. The temperature is pleasant, ranging from the high 50s to the low 80s, allowing visitors to enjoy various outdoor activities like hiking and camping.

The park offers an array of trails, including the High Dune Trail, which provides spectacular views of the mountains and sand dunes.

May is also an ideal time to indulge in sandboarding or sand sledding on the dunes, as the sand is not too hot to cause burns and is still warm enough for an exciting ride.

Moreover, the month of May is great for stargazing, as the clear nights allow visitors to enjoy the hypnotic beauty of the Milky Way.

Lastly, May is a quieter time to explore the park, as it is not yet the peak season, enabling visitors to relish the beauty of the park without the crowds.

Overall, May offers a perfect combination of adventure, solitude, and natural beauty, making it an excellent time to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Day 8: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

May is an excellent month for exploring Great Smoky Mountains National Park, especially for young travelers. The temperate weather conditions provide a comfortable experience for activities such as hiking, picnicking, and camping, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the low 80s.

The park is home to a diverse range of flowering plants, with over 1,500 species of wildflowers in full bloom during this time, creating a vibrant and stunning visual display.

Additionally, May is a prime time for observing wildlife in the park, with various species of birds such as warblers, vireos, and tanagers migrating through the area.

The park offers an array of events in May, including ranger-guided walks and talks, concerts, and festivals. Overall, May provides an excellent opportunity for young travelers to experience the natural beauty, wildlife, and outdoor activities available at Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park is an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts, especially during the month of May. With moderate temperatures ranging from 28°F to 60°F, visitors can enjoy various outdoor activities comfortably without worrying about extreme weather conditions.

Another advantage of visiting in May is the relatively low number of tourists, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the stunning scenery of the park. Wildlife sightings are more frequent, including bears, bison, and elk, which are starting to come out of hibernation.

Waterfalls and rivers are also at their peak flow, which provides plenty of opportunities for hikers and photographers. In May, several trails are open for hiking, including the popular Mount Washburn, Lamar Valley, and Mystic Falls trails.

Additionally, fishing enthusiasts can enjoy fly fishing in the park’s pristine rivers and streams as the trout season opens in May.

Overall, the combination of pleasant weather, dramatic landscapes, and a variety of outdoor activities make May an exciting time for young travelers seeking adventure to visit Yellowstone National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

May is a wonderful time to explore Joshua Tree National Park, with its pleasant climate and fewer tourists. The temperatures during this month range from 70°F to 85°F, creating ideal conditions for outdoor activities such as hiking and discovering the popular park’s natural splendor.

The park’s unusual desert wildflowers bloom in May, making it a great time for capturing impactful photos. Visitors can also participate in various recreational activities like rock climbing, camping, and stargazing.

May is also an off-peak season, offering visitors the chance to relish the peaceful atmosphere without the hustle and bustle of crowds.

Furthermore, the park provides ranger-guided tours and educational programs that enable visitors to gain insight into the park’s ecology, geology, and history.

To experience the exceptional beauty of Joshua Tree National Park and its distinctive desert environment, May is a perfect time to visit.

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde Cliff Palace, CO 08

May is a highly recommended month to visit Mesa Verde National Park. During this time, the weather is pleasant, with comfortable temperatures ranging from the mid-60s to the low 80s Fahrenheit, making it an ideal environment for outdoor activities such as taking a beautiful hike, picnicking, and exploring the ancient cliff dwellings unique to Mesa Verde.

Visitors can participate in ranger-led programs and guided tours to learn about the history and culture of the Ancestral Puebloans who once inhabited the area. The park’s natural beauty is also in full bloom, making it an excellent opportunity to take scenic drives and appreciate the flora.

Moreover, visiting during May has the added benefit of fewer crowds and lower prices compared to peak summer months, providing a more relaxed and budget-friendly experience.

Whether you are a seasoned hiker or seeking a cultural encounter, Mesa Verde National Park in May is an excellent destination for young travelers seeking excitement and opportunities to explore the landscape.

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