Snow capped mountains, moose wading in the water, and sunsets 🌄 that light up the sky with a kaleidoscope of colors. If that sounds like the perfect experience to you, then you must visit the Grand Tetons in May!
I’ve been to all the parks in the Lower 48 and yet Grand Teton National Park is my favorite of all. I fell in love with it when I visited in the summer time, but when I went back in May, it simply blew the other parks out of the water. We had the most ✨ magical ✨ weekend exploring!
May is shoulder season in the Tetons, which means melting snow and few visitors. It’s one of the very best times of year to see wildlife because of this! So, if you’re a fan of animal life, then you need to go.
You can read my entire guide for visiting the Tetons in May including what to do in May, what the weather 🌨 is like, and why May is a fantastic time to visit!
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Table of Contents
All About the Grand Tetons in May
Quick Park Facts
💵 Grand Teton National Park costs $35 for a private vehicle which lasts 7 days. You can also use annual passes like America the Beautiful Pass for entry.
☀️ Weather changes quickly in the Tetons. Make sure that you stay updated and that you take the proper precautions. If there are signs up bad weather, then stay off the trails and remain at the lower elevations.
⛺️ All campgrounds in the Tetons must be reserved in advance. You can find reservations on recreation.gov. In May, only a few of the campgrounds are open, so you can check more about that on the NPS website.
🐻 Grand Tetons is bear country, so make sure to stay bear aware and bring bear spray to hike on trails. Moose are also very active during this time of year. Use the rule of thumb when viewing wildlife, so that you stay the correct distance away.
🦮 Pets are not allowed in the park and they must stay leashed in parking lots as well.
⚠️ The Scenic Loop Drive usually opens up during early to mid-May. You can check on the road status on the NPS website to see what parts of the road are open.
🍃 Remember to follow the Leave No Trace Principles. As always, you want to leave nature looking better than you found it.
Is May a Good Time to Visit?
May is considered the shoulder season in the Tetons, which means less crowds and more wildlife. The days are also very long 🌞 with sunrise around 6 am and sunset around 9 pm. So, yes May is a fantastic time to visit this incredible park!
May is just the beginning of the winter thaw. Snow starts melting, the lakes begin to open up, and wildlife comes out of hibernation. In just two days we saw 9 moose and 4 grizzly bears 🐻! Spend the long days driving along the road and looking out for the amazing animals that live in the parks bounds.
However, hiking is limited during this time of year. Because the snow ⛄️ is melting, it is often too slushy to snowshoe or hike through. There are just a couple trails that will be thawed enough. If you’re an avid hiker, you may want to consider going back in late summer.
Things to Know About Visiting in May
Spring arrives late in the Tetons, which means that you will likely experience snow ❄️ and cold weather. Just know that much of the park is slowly opening up in May, so you may find a lot more closures than you were expecting.
It’s important to always stay updated on the NPS website and prepare for this. Snow is melting off the mountains, so rangers may close trails due to hazardous conditions. The best thing to do is have an open mind and make plans once you arrive within the park to know what you can do.
Where to Stay
Grand Tetons has plenty of options for stays including hotels, campgrounds in the park, and free camping just outside. Read below for further details.
Hotels & Lodging
This town is also a great place to stay 🏠, because there are tons of good restaurants and shops. However, it can get pricey during the busy seasons. Usually May has lower prices due to the ski resort being closed and fewer visitors to the parks.
If you would prefer to camp you can reserve one of the sites within the park. These sites will provide you with easy access to exploring the park and getting close to wildlife. Only a few campgrounds ⛺️ are open, but you can check which ones are available here.
There are also great free campsites in the Bridger Teton National Forest next to the Tetons. Some sites will still be covered in snow 🏔, but the ones at lower elevation are usually open and great places to stay.
Just remember, whether you’re boondocking (free camping) or staying in a campground to clean up after yourself. Food smells can attract the animals, so be extra cautious!
Things to Do in May
One of the reasons to visit the Grand Tetons in May is to see 👀 the amazing wildlife in the park. There are moose, grizzly bears, bison, pronghorn, elk and deer that roam about!
When we were there in May we saw 9 moose in just one weekend!
If you are going to search for wildlife, just make sure to give them plenty of space. I recommend packing binoculars or a scope 🔭, so that you can see them well. They are often hidden amongst the trees or by the marshes.
You can talk with other visitors and rangers to find out where to see the best wildlife on your visit 🦌. Remember if you are roaming through the park to pack bear spray!
It’s very likely that if you’re visiting in May, you’ll hear from rangers and signs that all of the hiking trails are snow packed. While this is usually true, that doesn’t mean that you can’t go hiking at all!
Taggart Lake is a short 3 mile hike and it is one of the ones that rangers say is often accessible during May. This trail 🥾 takes you to a beautiful lake with stunning views of the mountains behind it. In other months of the year, you can also tag on the hike to Bradley Lake as well.
We really enjoyed hiking this trail and thought it was the perfect way to stay active in May! It was beautiful and we even got to see a Moose chomping down nearby. It was a fantastic morning.
If you choose to hike this trail, I recommend going early ⏰ to avoid the slush that starts to happen in the afternoon. Also, I suggest packing spikes because you will likely have to walk over snow. However, we saw plenty of people doing it without them.
Watch Sunrise & Sunset
Wyoming is pretty far North, so you’ll get very long days in May with more than 12 hours of sunshine. That means you may have to get up early or stay up late to watch the skies change 🌅, but boy is it worth it!
The sunrises and sunsets in the Tetons are some of the very best that I’ve ever seen. You honestly can’t go wrong watching them from anywhere in the park! But, I’ve listed a few suggestions below.
Best Sunrise & Sunset Spots
- Oxbow Bend
- Schwabacher Landing
- Mormon Row
- Snake River Overlook
- Jackson Lake Overlook
Visit Mormon Row
Mormon Row is an area of the park that was once settled by Mormons in the late 1800s. You can still view the historic homes and community that existed back in the day.
It’s a wonderful place to learn about the history of the park and feel as if you escaped back in time. You can find out how these settlers lived their lives and survived the harsh conditions in the Tetons. I also recommend visiting for sunrise or sunset for fantastic photo opps 📸!
Drive the Scenic Teton Park Road
One of the best things to do in the Tetons is to drive 🚗 the Teton Park Road. This road drives through the park from top to bottom and then loops back down. It starts to completely open up by early to mid-May, which means you can drive the entire 42 miles.
Along the way, you can stop at many of the most scenic areas in the park. We have driven this road multiple times and each time it blows us away! I will truly never get over the beauty of the Tetons.
Best Stops Along the Loop Road
- Schwabacher Landing
- Jenny Lake
- Mormon Row
- Teton Point Overlook
- Colter Bay
- Antelope Flats
What is the Weather like?
The weather in the Grand Tetons in May is much like that of a crisp Fall day you’d experience elsewhere. The mornings and nights often dip down low into the 20s or 30s 🥶, but the days get up to the 60s.
May has a lot of sunny days, but rain or even snow are possible. So, that means you’ll want to be prepared for a range of temperatures 🌡 throughout the day. It’s always a good idea to wear layers that you can shed as the day goes on and put back on when the sun begins to dip below the mountains.
Packing List for the Tetons
If you couldn’t already tell, the best way to prepare for the Tetons in May is to pack plenty of layers. Below you’ll find my suggested packing list for your trip to this fantastic park!
- Comfortable Hiking Boots
- Small Pack
- First Aid Kit
- Layers including rain jacket and winter jacket
- Hat to block sun
- Bear spray
- Microspikes or snowshoes
- Hiking Poles
- Satellite Phone
- Parks Pass
Visiting the Grand Tetons in May will blow you away 🤯! It provides so many opportunities to see thriving wildlife and beautiful snow colored peaks. I seriously thought that nothing could compare to summer in the Tetons, but I left feeling happier than ever. So, add the Tetons to your bucket list for a spring adventure!
Let me know if you enjoyed this park guide in the comments!
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