About the Site
Redwood National Park  


Park History

Redwood Trees

LBJ Grove

Roosevelt Elk

Northern Coast

Central Coast

South Coast


Jedediah Smith SP

Prairie Cr. Redwoods SP

Cathedral Trees

Fern Canyon

Klamath River

Smith River

Redwood Creek

Redwood Creek Overlook

Lost Man Creek

Bald Hills

Crescent City



Plants & Animals


Roosevelt Elk

One of noteworthy natural features of Redwood National Park is its herd of Roosevelt Elk. The magnificent animals are now found in only a very few places, including Redwood and Olympic National Parks.

Although they exist in significant numbers now, the Roosevelt Elk approached extinction at one point. In the early 20th century, no more than a few dozen, maybe as few as 1 or 2, of the of the animals still existed in California. The only remaining herd made its stand in the area now encompassed by Prairie Creek Redwood State Park.

The animals can be very large indeed, with the bulls reaching up to 1200 pounds. The Roosevelt elk is the largest subspecies of the North American elk.

The stately bucks provide an impressive appearance as they survey their domain in the park.

The animals are named after former president, outdoorsman, and conservationist Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt led efforts to save the elk.

The animals are very athletic and can run up to 35 miles an hour.

The male elk produces a high pitched bugle sound which serves as a challenge to rivals for the right to breed with a harem of cows.

The bulls are very protective of their group of females, or harem.

A relatively large number of females can be seen among the herds in the park

The elk can be seen relaxing at various times.

The animals may be seen foraging and eating the grass in meadows and other open places.

Among the most recognizable characteristics of the male elk are the antlers. The bull elk grows a new set of antlers yearly. The antlers are shed after the fall mating season, and new antlers are regrown in the spring.

The antlers of the bull are covered with velvet, as can be seen below, which remain until they are shed in the fall.The picture below was taken in July, several months before the antlers will be shed. A six point rack may weigh up to 40 pounds.

The elk can be found in various places in the park, but tend to prefer meadows and prairies. One favorite place to spot the animals is Elk Meadow where Davison Road turns off Highway 101 as it runs through the park. This meadow is shown below, looking to the north, with a small herd relaxing there.

Some fences separate the viewing area from the meadow where the elk are located, although it is easy for visitors to approach the animals more closely. The sign above warns visitors "Keep Away From Elk. Park animals are will and can cause injury." The picture below shows the southern section of the meadow, looking south.

Roosevelt elk appreciate the mature, grand forests of the park for thermal protection and escape from predators. Actually, they like the prairie for food, while the forest provides shade and cover.

The elk also enjoy the bushy stages of second growth forests for feeding. These animals feed on grass, weeds, and other vegetable matter. The elk below is enjoying some weeds in elk meadow.

Elk can be difficult to see as they feed in bushy, covered sections of the park.

The elk which live in the park have little to fear from humans, and it is sometimes possible to approach them fairly closely. However, this is very dangerous to people and is not recommended. These elk are quite large, quick, and may attack when they feel threatened.

Although pictures are not easy to find, the elk are known to swim in the ocean on occasion. These elk are only a hundred yards or so from the ocean, in the Gold Bluffs area of Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.

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  • All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2013

  • Commercial use of the images contained in this document without express written consent is strictly prohibited.

  • Comments and other remarks can be sent via e-mail to parkvision@shannontech.com