Cold? In the spring, Yellowstone National Park certainly can be. If you bring a good coat you’ll be more than fine, because what you lack in warmth you gain back tenfold in space. Since school is still in session, spring—especially May—is a fantastic time to see what Yellowstone has to offer.
Coming to Life
Spring in Yellowstone is all about renewal. Throughout May, wildflowers like glacier lilies, shooting stars, bluebells, clematis, and larkspur peek out along streams and within meadows. Bears come down from the hills, both black and grizzly, their new cubs in tow as well as their 1 and 2 year-olds. Other newborns come with spring’s arrival. Along with the many bison and elk calves (spring is the height of their calving season) you may see fox kits, badger kits, wolf pups, and otter pups to name just a few. Chances are, if you visit Yellowstone in the spring, you will be able to see some of the youngsters playing from the side of the road. So, if you want to watch Yellowstone come to life, spring is the perfect time to visit.
Yellowstone also has many natural geological wonders that never take time off (it’s called Old Faithful for a reason), regardless of the season. There are many spectacular waterfalls within the 2.2 million acres comprising Yellowstone. Some, like Upper and Lower Yellowstone, the Virginia Cascades, and Undine Falls, are easily accessible. Others, like Fairy Falls and Mystic Falls, are just a short hike into the woods. However, if you’re going to hike in the park you should always stay on the trail and never hike alone.
You can also visit awe-inspiring sights like Grand Prismatic Spring, but, once again, stay on the path. Yellowstone is volatile, because it is teeming with geysers, hot springs, mud pots, and steam vents—some found immediately off Yellowstone’s designated trails.
Getting There in an RV
When traveling with your RV—towed or motorhome—it is best to avoid the steep grades of both the Bighorn Mountains (East Entrance to Yellowstone via Wyoming) and the Beartooth Highway (Northeast Entrance via Montana). In fact, they may not be available for any vehicular traffic before Memorial Day Weekend, so stick to the North, South, and West entrances for park access.
RV Park reservations inside the park for five of the campgrounds (including Fishing Bridge, the best option for RVers) are required. The following is a brief summary of RV-accessible campgrounds inside and outside the park to consider for a May visit. Act quickly, because Yellowstone is America’s most popular national park destination.
Inside the Park
Reservations for the following sites are required (the park has seven more but they are first-come, first-served and generally not open until June).
Also please note: RV + vehicle length is 40 feet or less at all campgrounds inside the park.
- Fishing Bridge – has hook-ups (and possibly the only one that will be open by the first week in May).
- Bridge Bay – no hook ups.
- Canyon – no hook-ups; some RV-only sites.
- Grant – no hook ups.
- Madison – no hook ups.
Please consult yellowstonepark.com for more information re opening dates.
Outside the Park
- Yellowstone Grizzly RV Park – West Yellowstone, MT (west entrance)
- Yellowstone Holiday RV Campground & Marina – West Yellowstone, MT (west entrance)
- Yellowstone KOA Mountainside – West Yellowstone, MT (west entrance)
- Yellowstone West Entrance KOA- West Yellowstone, MT (west entrance)
- Valley View RV Park – Island Park, ID (west entrance)
- Redrock RV Park – Island Park, ID (west entrance)
- Yellowstone’s Edge RV Park – Emigrant, MT (30 minutes from north entrance)
- Longhorn Ranch RV Resort – Dubois, WY (2 hours away from south entrance)
- Ponderosa Campground – Cody, WY (east entrance)
- Yellowstone Valley Inn – Cody, WY (east entrance)