• Steam rises off of the colorful Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces


    National Park ID,MT,WY

Yellowstone in May - A Two Season Experience

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Date: May 11, 2011
Contact: Dan Hottle, 307-344-2015

National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior

Yellowstone National Park
P.O. Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
May 11, 2011 11-034   
Al Nash or Dan Hottle (307) 344-2015


Yellowstone In May: A Two Season Experience

Flexibility is the key to an enjoyable early season visit to Yellowstone National Park this spring.

The effects of heavy winter snowfall, spring rains, and varying altitude and terrain mean visitors may encounter weather suitable for both shorts and snowshoes during one single May trip to the park.

For the first time this spring, forecasts are calling for high temperatures in the 50s or 60s throughout the park over the weekend. Nighttime temperatures are expected to be at or below freezing. This clash of seasons does present some challenges to opening areas to visitors, and restricts some of activities normally available this time of year.

Remaining snows from a hard winter have meant that plow crews have been working overtime to get roads open for the season. Snow remains quite deep in most locations. Many trails and boardwalks are still snow packed and impassible. In many cases, there is too much snow to hike and too little snow for cross-country skis. 

Unstable snow conditions caused a big slide across Sylvan Pass earlier this week, resulting in a temporary closure. While the road has been cleared and reopened to traffic, further slides resulting in temporary delays or closures may occur at any time, especially as temperatures increase.

Melting snow may turn some trails into a muddy mess, and is starting to increase the volume of water in rivers and streams, with some expected to leave their banks in coming weeks.

Most services and facilities will be open at Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful by May 13, but those planning an early season trip to Yellowstone should be prepared for limited services in many other locations for the next few weeks. There may also be limited temporary area or road closures, and visitors should pack their bags with the expectation of encountering both winter and spring conditions. 

Mammoth Hot Springs, at the north end of the park, is currently the most spring-like location. Expect some green grass, the first few spring flowers, bison calves, and afternoon temperatures in the 60s there this weekend.

It is highly recommend that visitors check the following resources before traveling:

Yellowstone’s 24-hr road update line at: 307-344-2117
National Weather Service forecast for Yellowstone and Grand Teton: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/riw/?n=ynp_gtnp

WYDOT Road Information 888-WYO-ROAD or http://www.wyoroad.info/
M-DOT Road Information 800-226-7623 or http://www.mdt.mt.gov/travinfo/

- www.nps.gov/yell -

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