Julie National Park, United States 4 Comments

Planning a trip to the US national parks in May and don’t know which ones to visit? May is a beautiful time to visit the national parks, now that the snow has melted across much of the country and roads are beginning to reopen. The list of national parks to visit in May is a lot longer than winter and early spring, so you have a lot to choose from. In this guide, we cover 15 great parks to visit plus one road trip to link several of these together.

About this National Park Series

This article is part of a series about the best national parks to visit each month. In this series, every national park is listed at least once and many are listed multiple times. It is a series of 12 articles, one for each month of the year. More popular parks, like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, may show up in as many as four of these articles, but lesser known parks like Gates of the Arctic may only show up once.

These articles take into account weather, crowd levels, the best time to go hiking, special events, road closures, and our personal experiences in the parks. Based on these factors, we picked out what we think are the optimal times to visit each park.

For an overview of the best time to visit each national park, check out our Best National Parks by Season guide. This guide has graphs that list each park and the optimal time to plan your visit. And at the end of this article, we have links to the other articles in our Best National Parks by Month series.

Visiting the National Parks in May

May is an awesome time to visit the national parks. By May, warmer weather settles across much of the United States. In many places, the snow has melted, the grass is green, the trees have leaves, and roads are beginning to open.

There are a handful of national parks that close their roads in autumn, for snowfall, and these roads don’t reopen until mid to late spring (or even early summer for some parks). In May, Yosemite and Black Canyon of the Gunnison make the list for parks that open their roads. You can still visit these parks in March and April, but it is not until May that you have access to the full park.

May tends to be a busy month to visit the national parks, but crowds are still lower than the summer months. If you want warm weather without massive crowds, May is a good time to plan your national parks trip.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information we provide for each national park does not include temporary road closures, since these dates are constantly changing. Roads can close in the national parks at any time, so I recommend getting updates on the National Park Service website while planning your trip. 

Best National Parks in May

1. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is home to one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States (it’s the cover photo for this article). Rising from Yosemite Valley are El Capitan and Half Dome. Waterfalls tumble over the granite cliffs, hiking trails weave their way from the valley floor to top of the highest peaks, and massive sequoia trees form a quiet sanctuary within the park.

Like other popular parks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, Yosemite is a bucket list destination, a park that everyone should visit at least once. It’s a beautiful park that is full of many wonderful adventures.

Why Visit Yosemite in May: The park roads are open and crowds are lower than the summer months. Two roads in Yosemite, Tioga Road and Glacier Point Road, close from fall through early spring. Tioga Road typically opens in early to mid-May, although in years of unusually high snowfall, it won’t reopen until late May or early June. May is a good time to visit Yosemite, because all of the roads typically open this month and crowds are lower than the summer months.
 
Weather: The average high is 80°F (27°C) and the average low is 52°F (11°C). Rainfall is low.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 5:50 am and sunset is at 8 pm.

Hikes in Yosemite National Park

Hiking the John Muir Trail | Best National Parks in May

 Glacier Point

Glacier Point | Best National Parks in May

Location: California

Top Experiences: See Bridalveil Falls, hike the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls, visit Tuolomne Meadows, enjoy the view from Glacier Point and Tunnel View, hike the Yosemite Falls Trail, visit Taft Point, and visit Mariposa Grove.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate adventure, hike to the top of Half Dome. This is a massive day hike that only fit, experienced hikers should attempt, but it is one of the best hikes in the US national parks. To stand on top of Half Dome and gaze across Yosemite National Park is an unforgettable experience. However, if this is something you want to do, it’s best to wait until June, when the Half Dome cables are up.

How Many Days Do You Need? Plan on spending two to three days in Yosemite National Park. This gives you enough time to hike a few trails, visit Glacier Point, drive Tioga Road, and explore Yosemite Valley.

2. Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park preserves a section of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia.

Skyline Drive is the main thoroughfare through the park, a road that twists and turns for 105 miles from north to south.

For those who want to explore the park beyond Skyline Drive, 500 miles of hiking trails travel through the park.

Why Visit Shenandoah in May: This is the best month to see wildflowers blooming in Shenandoah National Park. Plus, the weather is warm, the trees have leaves, and the entire park is lush and green.
 
Weather: The average high is 66°F (19°C) and the average low is 46°F (8°C). Rainfall averages about 4.5 inches per month through the year and May is no different.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6 am and sunset is at 8:20 pm.

Shenandoah Entrance Sign

Old Rag

View from Old Rag | Best National Parks in May

Location: Virginia

Top Experiences: Drive Skyline Drive and visit the overlooks, hike to the top of Bearfence Mountain, visit Dark Hollow Falls, enjoy the view from Hawksbill Mountain, hike to Mary’s Rock, and hike a section of the Appalachian Trail.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate adventure, hike Old Rag. This tough hike is just under 10 miles long and you’ll do some rock scrambling along the way, but from the top of Old Rag, you get one of the best views of the park.

How Many Days Do You Need? You can drive the length of Skyline Drive in one day, visiting the overlooks and hiking a trail or two. For a more leisurely experience, or to do several more hikes, plan on spending two or more days in Shenandoah.

3. Glacier Bay National Park

At 3 million acres, Glacier Bay is one of the larger US national parks. This park protects a portion of the Inside Passage and its fjords, glaciers, and temperate rainforest.

No roads lead into this park, so to get here, you will either have to fly or take a cruise. Cruises are one of the best ways to experience this park, as you drift past glaciers and take excursions to seaside towns and hiking trails.

Why Visit Glacier Bay in May: May is one of the driest months of year to visit Glacier Bay. Park visitation is lower than June, so you will have fewer crowds to contend with in May.
 
Weather: The average high is 54°F (12°C) and the average low is 39°F (4°C). The park gets about 3 inches of rain in May, making it the second driest month of the year (June is the driest).
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 4:40 am and sunset is at 9:40 pm.

Glacier Bay Alaska

photo credit: iStockphoto.com/sorincolac

Location: Alaska

Top Experiences: Explore Bartlett Cove, go sport fishing, take a flightseeing tour or kayaking tour, see the glaciers, and go hiking in Bartlett Cove.

How Many Days Do You Need? About 80% of people who visit Glacier Bay National Park do so on a cruise. If you fall into this category, your time in the park depends on the cruise that you choose. Plan to spend 2 to 3 days in the park, which gives you enough time to see the glaciers and take a few excursions.

Plan Your Visit

Glacier Bay National Park is one of the last parks on our to-do list. For more information to help you plan your trip, visit the National Park Service website.

4. Saguaro National Park

Saguaro National Park is a hot place to visit in May. So, why are we recommending it? Because this is the best time to see the Saguaro cactus in bloom.

The Saguaro cactus begins blooming in late April with peak blooming season in May. By the end of May into the first week of June, the blooming season ends.

Why Visit Saguaro in May: To see the Saguaro cactus in bloom.
 
Weather: In May, the average high is 93°F (34°C) and the average low is 60°F (16°C). Rainfall is extremely low.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 5:30 am and sunset is at 7:15 pm.

Saguaro Cactus Blossoms

Saguaro Cactus Blossoms | shutterstock.com/JayPierstorff

Location: Arizona

Top Experiences: Drive Bajada Loop Drive, walk the Valley View Overlook Trail and the Desert Discovery Nature Trail, see the Signal Hill Petroglyphs, and drive the Cactus Forest Drive. Just outside of the park is the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum which is well worth the time.

How Much Time Do You Need? A half to a full day is all you need to see the highlights of Saguaro National Park. With more time, you can go backpacking or hike the longer, more challenging hiking trails.

5. Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park preserves a lush river valley that is home to both natural and historical sites. Among the thousands of acres of forests and wetlands are a network of hiking and biking trails. Visit a covered bridge, ride a train through the heart of the park, learn about the Ohio and Erie Canal, and photograph the waterfalls.

A visit to Cuyahoga Valley National Park is not just about hiking to a viewpoint or taking a scenic train ride. It’s also about how changes can be made in how we think about and treat the environment we live in, and how these changes can have positive and dramatic effects on our natural areas.

Water pollution in the Cuyahoga River made national headlines in the 1960’s, which started a wave of environmental activism that reached well beyond the borders of this park. The Cuyahoga River actually caught fire several times, and these events, plus other related events across the US, helped spark Earth Day and helped establish the Clean Water Act and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Why Visit Cuyahoga Valley in May: We visited Cuyahoga Valley National Park in May and had a perfect experience. Crowds were low and temperatures were above average (in the 80’s). May tends to be less crowded than the summer months, so this is the perfect time to visit for great weather and lower than average crowds.
 
Weather: In May, the average high is 70°F (21°C) and the average low is 50°F (10°C). Rainfall is average for the year at 4 inches.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6 am and sunset is at 8:30 pm.

Brandywine Falls

Brandywine Falls | Best National Parks in May

 Things to do Cuyahoga Valley

The Ledges Trail | Best National Parks in May

Location: Ohio

Top Experiences: Photograph Brandywine Falls, visit Beaver Marsh, go for a ride on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, visit Bridal Veil Falls, visit Deer Lick Cave, hike to Blue Hen Falls, visit the Everett Covered Bridge, and hike the Ledges Trail.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate adventure, hike, bike and/or run the Ohio and Erie Towpath Trail. This is an 87-mile graded gravel path that runs alongside the Cuyahoga River.

How Many Days Do You Need? One day is all you need to see the highlights of Cuyahoga Valley National Park. This gives you enough time to hike a few short trails, photograph the waterfalls, and visit the Everett Covered Bridge and Beaver Marsh. If you get your timing right, you can have dinner on the train or take a Murder Mystery or Ales on Rails train ride.

6. Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park is one of the most accessible national parks in the US. It is located in and around the town of Hot Springs.

This land was set aside in the 1800’s to preserve the hot springs, which were believed to have medicinal properties. Soaking in these hot springs is the best thing to do on a visit to this park, but you can also go hiking, biking, and birding.

Why Visit Hot Springs in May: Because the weather is warm and crowd visitation is lower than the summer months. In June, the park begins to get more crowded, with peak visitation in July and August.
 
Weather: The average high is 81°F (27°C) and the average low is 58°F (15°C). With 6 inches of rain, this is one of the wettest months to visit the park.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6:10 am and sunset is at 8:10 pm.

Gulpha Gorge Bridge

Gulpha Gorge Bridge | photo credit: zrfphoto/istockphoto.com

Location: Arkansas

Top Experiences: Soak in the hot springs, visit Bathhouse Row, hike the Goat Rock Trail, hike the West Mountain Trail, go biking through the park, and see Balanced Rock.

How Many Days Do You Need? One day is all you need to soak in the hot springs and hike one of the park trails.

Plan Your Visit

This is one of the last parks on our to-do list. For more information to help you plan your trip, visit the National Park Service website.

7. Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

Great Sand Dunes National Park is one of those parks that is pure fun to visit. Sure, there are a few hikes to do, but the best experience is to go sandboarding or sand sledding on the dunes.

In May, temperatures are pleasant, crowds are lower than the summer months, and you can even go rafting on the Medano Creek, as it floods the park towards the end of the month.

Why Visit Great Sand Dunes in May: Time your visit for the end of May, which is when the Medano Creek floods the park. This creek forms a shallow body of water at the base of the sand dunes and floating on rafts is an extremely popular thing to do during this time. The flooding continues into June.
 
Weather: The average high is 66°F (19°C) and the average low is 38°F (3°C). Rainfall is low.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 5:50 am and sunset is at 8 pm.

Great Sand Dunes

Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve | Best National Parks in May

 Sandboard

Sandboard in the dunes | Best National Parks in May

Location: Colorado

Top Experiences: Go sandboarding or sledding, hike on the dunes, watch the sunset, camp on the dunes, go stargazing, drive the Medano Pass Primitive Road, and hike to Zapata Falls.

Ultimate Adventure: Hike to Star Dune, the tallest dune in North America.

How Many Days Do You Need? If you simply want to go sand sledding or sandboarding, a half of a day is all you need. But for the best experience, stick around for sunset (they are beautiful here) and if you time your visit for the end of May, you can also cool off in Medano Creek.

8. Mesa Verde National Park

Located in southwestern Colorado, Mesa Verde National Park is one of the most unique national parks in the United States. This park preserves the ancient Puebloan cliff dwellings and archeological sites that are hundreds of years old. Short hikes, scenic drives, and viewpoints make the to-do list, but the best way to experience this park is to get up close with the cliff dwellings on a tour.

Why Visit Mesa Verde in May: In May, the roads reopen in the park and ranger-guided tours of the cliff dwellings begin for the year. The weather is fantastic and crowds are lower than what you would see here during the summer months.
 
Weather: The average high is 70°F (21°C) and the average low is 43°F (6°C). Rainfall is low.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is 6 am and sunset is 8:15 pm.

Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde National Park | Best National Parks in May

Location: Colorado

Top Experiences: Take a ranger guided tour of a cliff dwelling, see the Spruce Tree House, hike the Petroglyph Point Trail, drive Mesa Top Loop, explore the Far View sites, and hike the Point Lookout Trail.

How Many Days Do You Need? One day is all you need to take a cliff dwelling tour and go on the scenic drives through the park.

9. Indiana Dunes National Park

Indiana Dunes is one of the newest national parks. It’s also one of the most popular, especially during the summer months.

This park preserves a portion of the Lake Michigan shoreline. In the summer, this park is a “beach destination” for the locals, but it is also a top destination for birding. Over 50 miles of hiking trails weave their way over the dunes, through the wetlands, and into the forests.

Why Visit Indiana Dunes in May: Temperatures are a bit on the cool side to go to the beach, unless you get an unusually warm day, but crowds are lower in May than the summer months. So, if you want to go hiking and explore the dunes, May is a great time to visit. The later in the month you go, the warmer the weather.
 
Weather: The average high is 69°F (20°C) and the average low is 50°F (10°C).
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6 am and sunset is at 8 pm.

Indiana Dunes | Best National Parks in May

Indiana Dunes National Park | photo credit: shutterstock.com/Delmas Lehman

Location: Indiana

Top Experiences: Relax on the beach, hike the Dunes Succession Trail, go horseback riding and birding, and go kayaking on Lake Michigan.

How Many Days Do You Need? One day is all you need to visit the highlights, but with more time you can spend a few days on the beach or hike a few of the trails.

Plan Your Visit

This is one of the last parks on our to-do list (although we are planning a visit for late May). For more information to help you plan your trip, visit the National Park Service website.

US National Parks Guide

10. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

In some ways, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is a smaller version of the Grand Canyon. You can visit both the North and South Rims, enjoy the views from the overlooks, and, for the ultimate adventure, hike below the rim to the Gunnison River.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison is one of the least visited parks in the US. But this is still a great place to visit. It’s small and easy to navigate, the views of the canyon are beautiful, and you have the option to add on a very cool adventure, hiking from the rim to the Gunnison River.

Why Visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison in May: From late fall through mid-April, many of the park roads are closed due to snow. In May, the roads are open, the weather is warming up, and crowds are lower than what you would see here during the summer months, making this a fantastic time to visit the park.
 
Weather: The average high is 67°F (19°C) and the average low is 38°F (4°C). Rainfall is low.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6:30 am and sunset is at 7:45 pm.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison Route

Black Canyon of the Gunnison | Best National Parks in May

 Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Gunnison Point | Best National Parks in May

 

Painted Wall | Best National Parks in May

Painted Wall | Best National Parks in May

Location: Colorado

Top Experiences: Drive South Rim Road and visit the overlooks, hike along the South Rim, drive East Portal Road, visit Exclamation Point, drive North Rim Road and visit the overlooks.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate experience in Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, explore the inner canyon. There are a number of trails that lead from the rim to the Gunnison River. In just a mile or two, you will hike down the river for one of the best experiences in the park. It’s even possible to camp overnight next to the Gunnison River.

How Many Days Do You Need? On the quickest of visits, you can visit the South Rim in about 4 to 5 hours, simply by driving South Rim Road. To visit both rims, plan on spending two days in the park.

11. National Park of American Samoa

Journey to the South Pacific and visit one of the most beautiful US national parks. Because of its remote location, it’s also one of the least visited.

This park is spread out over three islands: Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta’u. American Samoa preserves the Samoan culture, tropical rainforests, and coral reefs. It’s the only US national park located in the Southern Hemisphere.

Why Visit American Samoa in May: For sunny skies and a lower chance of rain than the winter and early spring months.
 
Weather: Temperatures do not vary much over the course of the year. In May, the average high is 86°F (30°C) and the average low is 78°F (26°C). It’s the rainfall that has the biggest impact on when to go. May is the start of the dry season, which lasts through September.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6:30 am and sunset is at 6 pm.

American Samoa | Best National Parks in May

National Park of American Samoa | photo credit: shutterstock.com/Danita Delimont

Location: American Samoa

Top Experiences: Go snorkeling, hike through tropical rainforests, hike the Mount ‘Alava Trail to the summit of Mount ‘Alava, take a boat tour of the islands.

How Many Days Do You Need? Plan on spending 1 to 2 days in the park to visit the highlights and tour the islands.

Plan Your Visit

This is one of the last parks on our to-do list. For more information to help you plan your trip, visit the National Park Service website.

12. Congaree National Park

Congaree is hot and humid in May, and with higher levels of mosquitoes, it’s not a great time to visit the park, unless you want to see the synchronous fireflies.

For several weeks from mid-May to mid-June, fireflies light up the skies in Congaree National Park. During this time, the fireflies synchronously flash as they search for a mate.

This has become such a popular event that in 2021 the National Park Service began a lottery system. Learn more on the National Park Service website.

Why Visit Congaree in May: To see the synchronous fireflies.
 
Weather: The average high is 83°F (28°C) and the average low is 60°F (15°C). On hotter than normal days, the high temperature can get up into the high-90’s. In terms of rainfall, this is one of the drier months to visit the park, but now that it is getting warmer, expect humid weather. Mosquitoes can also be bad this time of year.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6:20 am and sunset is at 8:20 pm.

One Day in Congaree Photo | Best National Parks in May

Congaree National Park | Best National Parks in May

Location: South Carolina

Top Experiences: Walk the Boardwalk Loop Trail, go canoeing or kayaking on Cedar Creek, hike the Weston Loop Trail, and hike to the General Greene Tree.

Ultimate Adventure: For the ultimate adventure, go on a multi-day canoe trip on the Congaree River.

How Much Time Do You Need? One day in Congaree is all you need to see the highlights. Walk the boardwalk trails and go for a canoe trip on Cedar Creek.

13. Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks preserve some of the oldest and largest living creatures on Earth. Some of the redwoods in this park are more than 2,000 years old.

This complex of parks (Redwood National Park plus three state parks) protects about 45% of the remaining coastal redwood old-growth forests. These parks are also home to an abundance of wildlife, including black bears, bobcats, coyote, Roosevelt elk, osprey, the Northern spotted owl, flying squirrels, California sea lions, and Pacific gray whales.

Why Visit Redwood in May: The rainy season has come to an end and the days are warmer than April. Park visitation does pick up in May, but it is lower than what you would see here in June, July, or August.
 
Weather: In May, the average high temperature is 61°F (16°C) and the average low is 44°F (7°C). May is one of the drier months in the park, with about 4 inches of rain.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 6 am and sunset is at 8:30 pm.

Redwood | Best National Parks in May

Redwood National Park | photo credit: shutterstock.com/Stephen Moehle

Location: California

Top Experiences: Hike Tall Trees Grove, hike through Lady Bird Johnson grove, go for a scenic drive on Newton B. Drury Scenic Byway or Bald Hills Road, visit Fern Canyon, hike the Prairie Creek and Foothill Loop, and go whale watching (November, December, March, April).

How Many Days Do You Need? Plan on spending two to three days in the park. With four different parks to visit, you need a minimum of two days to see the highlights. Three days gives you enough time to venture deeper into the park or visit it at a more leisurely pace.

Plan Your Visit

Redwood National Park is one of the last parks on our to-do list. For more information to help you plan your trip, visit the National Park Service website.

14. Wind Cave National Park

Wind Cave National Park gets its name for its large, underground cavern and maze of passageways.

What many people may not be aware of is that above ground, this park is home to one of the largest prairies in the USA, and with that comes amazing wildlife viewing opportunities.

This is a great place to see bison. The herds may not be as large as those you see in Yellowstone or Badlands, but if you choose to go hiking at Wind Cave, there’s a good chance you see bison right from the hiking trails.

Why Visit Wind Cave in May: The weather is mild and crowds are still below peak levels.
 
Weather: The average high is 66°F (19°C) and the average low is 41°F (5°C). This is one of the wettest months to visit Wind Cave, with 3 inches of rain in May.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 5:30 am and sunset is at 8:15 pm.

Bison in Wind Cave | Best National Parks in May

Bison in Wind Cave National Park | Best National Parks in May

 Boxwork | Best National Parks in May

Wind Cave contains 95% of the world’s discovered boxwork.

Location: South Dakota

Top Experiences: Take a cave tour, spot bison from the park roads, hike the Rankin Ridge Trail, and hike the Lookout Point and Centennial Trail Loop.

How Many Days Do You Need? With one full day, you can tour the cave in the morning and hike a surface trail in the afternoon.

15. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. The ridgeline of the Great Smoky Mountains runs through the center of the park and it is here that you will find some of the tallest peaks in eastern North America.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the United States. In 2021, over 14 million people visited this park. Second place wasn’t even close (that would be Zion, with 5 million visitors).

In May of 2021, just under 1.4 million people visited this national park (you read that right…1.4 million people in one month). To put that into perspective, that’s about the same number of people that visited Capitol Reef National Park all year! And Capitol Reef was the 20th most visited national park that year.

And May isn’t even the busy time to visit Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The busy season is the summer months and peak visitation is July, with 1.7 million visitors.

Why Visit Great Smoky Mountains in May: For great weather and lower crowds than the summer months.
 
Weather: The average high is 68°F (20°C) and the average low is 45°F (7°C). Rainfall is about average for the year, with the park receiving about 7 inches of rain.
 
Sunrise & Sunset: Sunrise is at 7 am and sunset is at 8 pm.

Great Smoky Mountains | Best National Parks in May

Great Smoky Mountains in spring | photo credit: istockphoto.com/MargaretW 

Location: Tennessee and North Carolina

Top Experiences: Enjoy the view from Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap, hike the Alum Trail to Mount LeConte, drive through Cades Cove, and drive the Roaring Fork Motor Trail.

How Many Days Do You Need? One day is all you need to visit the highlights of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Bonus! 3 More National Parks to Visit

Great Basin National Park

Temperatures in May are mild (average highs are in the 60’s but the days can get up to 90°F on especially warm days). May is a good time to visit the park before the summer crowds arrive. Just be aware that snow can stick around through May on the highest roads and the highest hiking trails.

Pinnacles National Park

Pinnacles was listed in our series for the best parks to visit in March and April, since these two months are a great time to see wildflowers in the park. The weather in May is very good, with average high temperatures in the low 80’s and low rainfall, but this tends to be the busiest month to visit Pinnacles, so keep that in mind while planning your trip.

Channel Islands National Park

Temperatures in the Channel Islands are mild and rainfall is very low. Crowds aren’t quite to their peak levels yet (that occurs in the summer months). However, in late spring and early summer, low-lying fog can obscure visibility. This doesn’t typically happen every day but if you plan your visit in May, foggy weather is a possibility. The better time to visit the Channel Islands is later in the summer (but expect larger crowds).

May Road Trip Idea

In 10 days, you can drive point-to-point from Washington DC to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, visiting three national parks along the way (Shenandoah, New River Gorge, and Great Smoky Mountains). You can also spend some time in lovely Asheville, North Carolina.

Learn more about this road trip in our article Best USA Road Trips.


If you have any questions about the best national parks to visit in May, or if you want to share your favorite national parks to visit this month, let us know in the comment section below.

More Information about the US National Parks:

NATIONAL PARKS: In our Guide to the US National Parks, get the full list of national parks with important travel planning information, such as things to do in the parks and sample itineraries.

NATIONAL PARK ITINERARIES: For ideas on how to plan a national parks road trip, visit our National Parks Itinerary page. This has lots of road trip ideas and sample itineraries for many of the US national parks.

BEST US NATIONAL PARKS: Looking for your next big adventure? Read our post Best National Parks in the USA, where we narrow down the long list into 15 must-see parks.

MORE GREAT HIKES IN THE NATIONAL PARKS: From hikes to the tallest peaks to beautiful coast trails, read our Guide to the Best Day Hikes in the US National Parks. If you prefer to keep your hikes short and sweet, read our guide to the Best Short Hikes in the National Parks.

Best National Parks to Visit by Month:

JANUARY: Best National Parks to Visit in January
FEBRUARY: Best National Parks to Visit in February
MARCH:  Best National Parks to Visit in March
APRIL: Best National Parks to Visit in April
JUNE: Best National Parks to Visit in June
JULY: Best National Parks to Visit in July
AUGUST: Best National Parks to Visit in August
SEPTEMBER: Best National Parks to Visit in September
OCTOBER: Best National Parks to Visit in October
NOVEMBER: Best National Parks to Visit in November
DECEMBER: Best National Parks to Visit in December

 

Best US National Parks May

 

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Comments 4

  1. Avatar for Arta
    Arta

    Hi Julie!
    Thank you for sharing your travel tips and your family adventures. I discovered your site while visiting Alaska last year.
    Will you help with some suggestions for a trip we want to go on May 22-May 31.
    We live in MO, and can go any direction driving up to 9 hours. Children are 16,18,20 and we are on our 50’s . We are somewhere in the middle of wanting to see many things but enjoy and not hurry too much.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      If you are thinking of a national park road trip, you could head east. Go through St. Louis and see Gateway Arch. Continue east through Kentucky and visit New River Gorge National Park in West Va. Then drive to Shenandoah NP, head south through Asheville NC to Great Smoky Mountains and then head back to Missouri (maybe visiting Mammoth Cave on the way). Virginia is more than 9 hours from Missouri, but maybe it is doable since you are breaking up the drive? In May, the Colorado parks can also be nice (but not all of RMNP will be open) and it’s a big drive from Missouri, too (about 12 hours) so the first itinerary might be better. Cheers, Julie

  2. Avatar for Elizabeth Wulf
    Elizabeth Wulf

    We visited Yosemite in early April this year and there was no snow in the valley and Mariposa Grove, and temps were in the 80s.

    Things to note for May…access to Bridalveil Falls is closed due to a rehabilitation project that will conclude in the fall of 2022. Glacier Point Rd. Is closed all of 2022 for road repair. The area can still be accessed by hiking, though, this summer. And, in May, the park implements their times entry/reservation system.

    1. Avatar for Julie Post
      Author
      Julie

      Thanks for all of these tips. It sounds like wherever you travel, you are bringing the warmer weather with you. 😊 Cheers, Julie

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