Wildlife: Where to See Elk

Elk mostly travel in herds making them easier to spot.
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Elk mostly travel in herds making them easier to spot.

Range

Rockies, coastal Oregon and Washington, central California coast, Oklahoma, Minnesota, North Dakota, Texas, and Pennsylvania

Where

>> Open fields In midsummer, elk head for alpine meadows to graze, though they bed down in the timber at night.
>> Water holes In arid climates, like Arizona and southern Colorado, elk congregate around lakes and pools, especially in the evenings.

When

>> Mornings and evenings Scan the boundaries between meadow and forest as elk move to and from their bedding grounds.

How

>> Stick to the shadows, and stay motionless. When you’re very close—inside of 30 yards—blinking seems like a sudden movement to elk, says Bridger Petrini, hunting guide and owner of Tri-State Outfitters in Raton, New Mexico, so he pulls down his hat bill to cloak his eyes. “If you move, make it slow and fluid, not jerky,” he says.
>> Listen for the distinctive bugling to guide you in to the herd.
>> Call them in with a bugling horn (like with moose).

Top spots

Colorado’s Flat Tops Wilderness has North America’s largest elk herd, numbering 40,000. See them on the vast alpine tundra of the 18-mile-long Chinese Wall Trail.