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reddy2go2 Jan 17th, 2015 07:02 AM

Yellowstone in late May
We are flying to Denver from Chicago for a wedding over Memorial Day weekend and plan to drive that Monday morning to Jackson Hole, spend the night there. Then the next day and one night in the Tetons and rest of the week at Yellostone (Wednesday to Sunday); flying home from Jackson Sunday night. We have reservations at Canyon Ranch Friday/Saturday and will look for a place in Gardiner Wednesday/Thursday. We are a family of 5, all adults (though the two 20-something's can seem to be in the terrible 2's at time ��)

Would love advice on what we can expect at the parks the last week in May, and what are the must-sees this time of year. Any other tips would be great as well. Thanks in advance!

PaulRabe Jan 17th, 2015 09:02 AM

> what we can expect at the parks the last week in May

Here's an intro:

All major trails will be closed, and a few minor ones as well -- snow remains on the ground until early July in Yellowstone.

Most facilities will have just opened,
so expect small crowds and some degree of disorganization.

Mammals will begin to come out, but so will mosquitoes -- stay away from marshy areas.

reddy2go2 Jan 17th, 2015 12:24 PM

Thanks for the information and links, PaulRabe!

utahtea Jan 18th, 2015 11:28 AM

We've been in the first week of June twice now but I know that in the week before we got there they had snow. We saw a light dusting of snow once but there wasn't any snow on the trails.

I would recommend looking for lodging in West Yellowstone over Gardiner because it's a better location to see all the park and it also has many more choices for lodging and dining. It's also closest to the geyser areas if you can't stay in the park in the Old Faithful Area.

I don't know where Canyon Ranch is in Yellowstone. Did you mean the Canyon Lodge?

The park roads are laid out in a figure eight so you might want to do a northern loop one day if the roads are clear and a southern route on another day. My favorite areas are the geyser and they are a little spread out so I like to put at least two days to explore all of them.


starrs Jan 18th, 2015 11:58 AM

We were there in early June and the forecast at the Moose Visitors Center was included possible snow. Just pack layers and gloves and expect almost any kind of weather. I love Dornan's at Moose in GTNP. Love their little grocery store, love their deli sandwiches in the store, love their pasta and pizza restaurant with great views of the tetons. Love their little wine shop. I don't know if the chuckwagon will be open at that time of year, but legendary pancakes.

I highly recommend the Canyon Lake Lodge in GTNP, especially if you can get one of the rooms with the great views.

Personally, I'd add another day at Great Tetons if it were my trip (and take one away from Yellowstone).

Highly recommend getting rooms inside Yellowstone too. My favorite is the Old Faithful Inn, especially a geyser view if possible. The little Hamilton store to the right of OFI has a nice little diner in it for good, reasonable food.

As utahtea said, Yellowstone is laid out along a figure 8, with an upper loop and a lower loop. When the first visitors got off the train in Livingston, tourist buses picked them up and drove them around the park. The lodges are at the overnight stops and in between there were picnic stops for lunch. It took them several days to finish the figure 8 loop. You can do it easily in one day, especially in off seasons without much traffic. Keep your gas tank at over 1/2 tank. there's food every 20 miles or so, and places to see along the way. If there are ranger led hikes, take advantage of them. Something like 80% of the visitors to Yellowstone never get more than a few feet from pavement or boardwalk. I took a great ranger hike to standing petrified trees one summer. See what they are offering when you are there. Otherwise, just relax and enjoy the sights of Yellowstone. GTNP is one of my favorite places in the world.

starrs Jan 18th, 2015 12:03 PM

One more thought - there's no way to know about this year but when we were there we visited the nesting owls in Gros Ventre campground at GTNP.
We were there a week after another Fodorite and she told us about them. A section of the campground was roped off to give them privacy, but lots of folks there getting great photos.

Also, I highly recommend Brushback Tours in GTNP and Yellowstone -
Friend them on Facebook to see some really great photos.

rjasnumberonefan Jan 18th, 2015 03:09 PM

I've gone there in May, June and August.
August had snow at highest elevations that year.
In June we had the entire park roads open, but had snow starting in W. Yellowstone driving in. Some sleet and had to buy an extra hoodie, but a great time.
Went in middle May last year and GTNP had beautiful snow. We saw grizzlies w/ cubs, wolves and more. Great time for wildlife. Snow heading into YNP from Teton was as tall as the cars long the side of the roads. All roads were plowed except for the top right of the figure 8. Still plenty to explore. Yellowstone is very vast and there were places with no snow on the ground, too. Some of the visitor centers were not open, but you still had access to restrooms along the way. By the end of May, they all may be open. The opening dates are on their website.

tomfuller Jan 18th, 2015 05:36 PM

If you can get it, try for Mammoth instead of Gardiner.

starrs Jan 18th, 2015 05:48 PM

For those who have been recently, is Mammoth still "dead"?

tomfuller Jan 18th, 2015 05:57 PM

When I was there in August, the Park Service Visitor Center was in a modular building while they are remodeling the ancient building that was in use for about 100 years. There were plenty of people around when I went through. I only saw 1 elk there.

utahtea Jan 19th, 2015 04:45 PM


When you ask if Mammoth is still "dead" are you referring to the Mammoth Hot Springs? It's never been the same since our first time in 1973 when Minerva spring would blind you without sunglasses. The Minerva Spring has been dead for a long time now. There are new areas that pop up and some have died but others seem to keep things going. I personally think it's worth checking out each time we visit.


starrs Jan 19th, 2015 04:51 PM

Yes. My experience was the same as yours. Gorgeous white-ish terraces with multiple colors in the running and still water from the minerals. When I was there last, there was NO water running. Well, maybe one small trickle with the amount of water coming from a bathroom sink. The terraces were still there of course, Grey. Lifeless. Sad.

utahtea Jan 19th, 2015 07:11 PM


When was the last time you visited Mammoth Hot Springs? We were there in 2012 and the Canary Springs was going strong and making its way down the hill. The new Palate springs was still going pretty strong.


starrs Jan 19th, 2015 08:03 PM

2010. EleniPickle was there the week (or two?) before. In the Tetons at least.
(I can't believe it's been 5 years this summer!)

I've been to Yellowstone several times but it had been a few years. I THINK about 2000. Mammoth looked as "alive" then as it did in 1981. The "boys" used to go fish the Box Canyon of the Snake river and we stayed in Island Park ID during those years. SIL stayed "home" so I went exploring all day, every day.

beckydoodle Feb 20th, 2015 09:07 AM

May weather definitely varies from year to year. We have been there four different years in May and each year was unique. For all but one year there was snow.

Since you are going at the end of May, it may be okay for you. Some areas will still be inaccessible, but the beauty of the Grand Tetons will be very visible. Have fun!

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