Discover the 10 Best National Parks to Visit in May

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Published: March 29, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/rruntsch
Share this post on:

We all need a place and time to unwind, take our minds off our daily routines, and re-energize for quality results in our everyday activities. May is one of the best months to visit many national parks in the United States before summer arrives. 

Depending on your preference, there are various breathtaking national parks you can visit in May that will leave you delighted and content. From the stunning landscapes of Sequoia National Park in California to the prettiest spring scenery in Alaska, there’s truly something for everyone on this list.

This article features an inspirational mix of the ten amazing national parks you can visit in May. We will also look into what to anticipate while there and why they are the best places to visit.

1.   Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is full of magnificent granite cliffs, giant sequoia groves, glaciers, clear streams, lakes, and mountains

iStock.com/agaliza

Yosemite National Park
StateCalifornia
Size747,956 Acres
Animal to SeeBlack Bear
Attraction to SeeAncient Sequoia Trees

Yosemite National Park is a phenomenal sight to visit during May because of its pleasant temperatures that range between 44℉ to 73℉. It’s also not too crowded as compared to summer. So, you will be able to explore the park fully without any hindrance.

Yosemite is home to one of the largest waterfalls in North America. The park is also full of magnificent granite cliffs, giant sequoia groves, glaciers, clear streams, lakes, and mountains. But you should keep in mind that some of these places might still be closed in May since Yosemite gets lots of snow in winter, which takes longer to melt.

In May, experience the outdoors in a new way by hiking through Yosemite Valley, Wawona, and Hetch Hetchy. You can also cycle with friends or family members at the park. The park is also home to bears, bobcats, coyotes, river otters, and other animals. 

2.   Zion National Park

Zion National Park - Hidden Canyon Trail
Mountain Lions are found in Zion National Park

VIKVAD/Shutterstock.com

Zion National Park
StateUtah
Size146,597 Acres
Animal to SeeMountain Lion
Attraction to SeeAngels Landing, Expansive Canyon

Zion National Park is an incredible place to visit in May because the weather is usually perfect for outdoor activities. Zion’s temperature makes it possible for one to experience the thrilling, beautiful cream scenery, the beautiful Virgin River, and the snow melting in the valley.

This park is home to beautiful canyons built over the years by powerful weather events and the Virgin River. Mountain lions occupy top positions of the canyons as they hunt mammals such as bighorn sheep and mule deer.

The highlight of Zion National Park is Angels Landing, where one can watch breathtaking sunset and sunrise. Lava Camp Point Campground, Watchman, and South Campground are among the best places to camp at the park because of their great scenic views.

3.   Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park is located in California

iStock.com/Sara Edwards

Sequoia National Park 
StateCalifornia
Size404,063 Acres
Animal to SeeBlack Bear
Attraction to SeeGiant Sequoia Trees

Visiting Sequoia National Park in May will enable you to see the giant sequoia trees, which are the main attraction of the park. In May, the temperatures are favorable, meaning you can even go underground to the crystal cave.

You can climb the high-sky granite rock to get a better view of coyotes, black bears, wolverines, beavers, badgers, and deer. You will marvel at the great scenes of the world’s largest trees and General Sherman from the granite rock.

Hiking along the 1.3-mile Big Trees trail, the 2-mile Congress Trail, and Moro Rock will take your breath away. This park also hosts a museum that has a history of behemoth trees and the surrounding community.

4.   Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park - Santa Elena Canyon
Big Bend National Park is home to over 1,200 plant species

Paul Leong/Shutterstock.com

Big Bend National Park
StateTexas
Size801,163 Acres
Animal to SeeKitfox
Attraction to SeeThe Santa Elena Canyon

Big Bend National Park is among the best national parks in Texas. The park is home to over 1,200 plant species and is famous for having many fauna and flora. It also hosts over 450 bird species and 75 mammals. 

You might run into a kitfox, a bobcat, a ringtail, and many species of bats at the park. Seeing the park’s canyons, turtles on the river banks and bald eagles flying over the river can be an incredible experience as you kayak at Big Bend.

Big Bend’s vast areas provide a perfect hiking spot with desert and mountain trails to explore. Big Bend is the best place to stargaze since it’s one of the darkest parks, making it possible to see the Milky Way.

5.   Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park, - Cactus
Saguaro National Park is located in Southern Arizona

Nate Hovee/Shutterstock.com

Saguaro National Park
StateSouthern Arizona
Size91,716 Acres
Animal to SeeCollared Peccaries
Attraction to SeeArizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Saguaro National Park is one of the best places to tour if you like hiking and watching stunning sunsets. It’s a bit hot in Saguaro, with temperatures ranging from 59℉ to 91℉. The major highlight of the park is the Saguaro cactus over the Sonoran Desert, where tourists go for hikes.

Saguaro is home to the most unusual variety of animals, most of which are only found in Arizona. These animals include Gila monsters, collared peccaries, horned lizards, kangaroo rats, and roadrunners among others.

6.   Arches National Park

Arches National Park - Turret Arch
Arches National Park temperature ranges between 52℉ to 81℉

anthony heflin/Shutterstock.com

Arches National Park
StateUtah
Size76,519 Acres
Animal to SeeMountain Lion
Attraction to SeeDelicate Arch

Arches National Park is an incredible park to visit in May because of its favorable temperatures ranging from 52℉ to 81℉. The park is excellent for outdoor activities, like hiking through Park Avenue and the Double Arch.

One can also take a scenic drive and view the geological formations at the Balanced Rock and Devil’s Garden. You may run into woodrats, skunks, bobcats, and bighorn sheep along Highway 191 near the visitor center.

Mountain lions also roam the canyons and the talus slopes of Archives National Park. They hunt prey on the rocky slopes while negotiating the steep and rocky terrain with ease.

7.   Mammoth Cave National Park

Wild woodland animals like young deer fawns, muskrats, woodchucks, and wild turkeys are found in Mammoth Cave National Park

iStock.com/zrfphoto

Mammoth Cave National Park
StateKentucky
Size52,830 Acres
Animal to SeeRaccoon
Attraction to SeeDinosaur World

Due to warm weather, Mammoth Cave National Park is among the best places to undertake outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, scenic drives, and biking in May. The park offers surreal adventures because it has one of the largest cave systems in the world. 

Get to experience America’s last remaining rural ferries where one can hitch a ride on the Green River Ferry at Mammoth Cave. You can also walk through the forest and explore nature’s beauty brought forth by the blooming spring flowers. 

In May, wild woodland animals, like young deer fawns, muskrats, opossums, woodchucks, and wild turkeys, also come out because of the warm temperatures. May is also the best time to visit the park as it is less crowded.

8.   Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is found in Montana

VIKVAD/Shutterstock.com

Glacier National Park
StateMontana
Size1,013,322 Acres
Animal to SeeGrizzly Bear
Attraction to SeeLake McDonald

If you want to avoid crowds, May is the best month to visit Glacier National Park. You will get the best views of the Glacier Bay Mountains while sailing and kayaking in the park’s beautiful waters. 

The park also offers you an opportunity to watch sea lions, eagles, bears, whales, porcupines, and moose in May. You will also be able to explore the backcountry chalets, the wonderful dense ancient forest, the photogenic Hidden Lake, and the pristine turquoise streams of Glacier National Park.

9.   Great Sand Dunes National Park

Great Sand Dunes National Park - Sand Dune
Small animals like kangaroo rats, ground squirrels, and rabbits live at the base of the Great Sand Dunes National Park

Andrew Repp/Shutterstock.com

Great Sand Dunes National Park
StateColorado
Size149,028 Acres
Animal to SeeKangaroo Rats
Attraction to SeeTowering Star Dune

Great Sand Dunes National Park is an amazing park to visit in Colorado. If you are an adventurous person, you can tour the Great Sand Dunes in May and explore several outdoor activities such as sandboarding, camping, and scenic drives. It’s only possible to drive through the Medano Pass Primitive Road using a 4WD vehicle because of the tall dunes.

You can hike up to the 750-foot summit and enjoy the great view above the dunes. Small animals like kangaroo rats, ground squirrels, rabbits, and different birds live at the base of the dunes. Bobcats, coyotes, and other larger mammals live in the sheltered areas of the surrounding mountains. 

Don’t be in a hurry to leave the park when the sun goes down, as the park offers the best view of the Milky Way at night. 

10. Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is home to large and small grazing animals, including bison, elk, prairie dogs, and wild horses

iStock.com/rruntsch

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
StateNorth Dakota
Size70,446 Acres
Animal to SeeHerds of Bison
Attraction to SeeChateau de Mores State Historic Site

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is among the most underrated national parks in North Dakota. However, it’s one of the best places to visit in May due to its pleasant temperatures. The park is home to large and small grazing animals, including bison, elk, prairie dogs, pronghorn, wild horses, and bighorn sheep. 

Theodore is a great place to drive through the Badlands and past several overlooks and trails with amazing viewpoints. You will also experience an adventurous hike through different places like Buck hill (0.2miles), Boicourt Overlook Trail (0.2 miles), and Skyline Vista (0.1 miles).

Share this post on:

More from A-Z Animals