Often times our vacations to national parks or forests are dictated by the date the kids are out of school or when the weather is hot. This may not be the best time to visit Grand Teton National Park.
Here are the top 5 reasons to visit the park in May. If you have time off or if you are looking for a unique park experience, the month of May offers some special attractions.
THE ELK ARE PLENTIFUL
If you are interested in viewing elk close up and personal, May beats all the other months. The thousands of elk that winter in the National Elk Refuge just north of the town of Jackson are driven out of the refuge as soon as the snow is gone in the lower elevations. They migrate in all directions but mostly north along US 89 which is the main road extending north through the park. Temporary signs are posted at regular intervals along the highway with instructions to “slow down” so you will not hit the migrating wildlife. Many days you can see hundreds of elk migrating north into the forest and the wilderness areas of the park.
BUFFALO CALVES ARE ORANGE
Unless you have visited the park in April or May, you have never seen orange buffalo calves. Newborn buffalo look much like a Heifer with a really big head. Buffalo roam mostly on Antelope Flats and prefer to stay at a distance from you with their young. Calves are easy prey for wolves, coyote or bears if they become separated from the herd. The contrast to the dark brown or black color of the older buffalo makes for a spectacular sight!
It is too early in the season for the mosquitoes to breed. The nights are still too cold for the larvae to survive. It will be June before the mosquitoes become a nuisance.
From glacier-fed waterfalls to Snake River tributaries, the waters are flowing at near peak rates. Rivers and streams that otherwise would be dry (or only a trickle) are flowing at capacity. While flooding is usually only along the Snake River, the contributing waters support wildlife throughout the park. It is not uncommon to get water, wildlife, mountain and sunset in the same picture.
For those looking for the greatest experience in the park without standing in line, May is the month! Most schools are still in session, summer has not yet officially begun, the seasonal rates have not yet been raised and the crowds will not slow you down. It will be the middle of June before you are gridlocked on the park roads.
Overall, May is a pretty good month to visit Grand Teton National Park. The earth is beginning to wake with the renewal of green leaves and lush vegetation and the wildlife put on their best show just before the heat of the summer.
If you are planning a visit to Grand Teton National Park this year, May is a good time to come!