The Tule Elk is the smallest of the North American elk species, the male (bull) elk weighing an average of 450 to 500 pounds (200 to 225 kg), and the female (cow) weighing between 350 to 425 pounds (150 to 200 kg). Tule Elk have a light-beige coat with a dark brown mane surrounding their neck. The rump of the Tule elk is white to a very light tan. The average length of a Tule Elk is 7 feet, and is 4 to 5 feet high at the shoulders. Similar to the Rocky Mountain Elk, a mature male Tule Elk will typically have 6 points on each of the antlers.
The Tule Elk was once known to inhabit most of central California from the east coast to the Sierra Nevada Foothills, but today the Tule Elk are primarily located in the Tule Elk State Reserve in California, which was created in 1932 to protect the once extinct animal. At one point in the Tule Elk’s history, there were 400,000 to 500,000 elk roaming free in most of California. At the low point, there may have been as few as 20 to 30. A farmer/cattleman by the name of Henry Miller was determined to save this majestic animal, which for him started in the 1870’s – 50 years before Tule Elk State Reserve was created for the preservation of this almost extinct animal. The heard in Tule Elk State Reserve population is now 2,500 to 3,000 head of elk. The State of California has also transplanted the Tule Elk into other wildlife reserves where the animal once roamed.
On our last day of camping in the Tetons, we hooked up to our camper, headed down the road and had to make a decision as to which road to take to go back to Yellowstone. We decided at the last minute to veer closer to the mountains in hope of seeing more elk. While driving we saw a cow and calf elk come running full tilt out of the trees, we quickly pulled off the road and decided to wait and see what else would come out…
Here comes the rest of the herd…
With a nice bull…
We were definitely happy campers seeing these beautiful animals our last day in Tetons!
On our return trip from South Dakota we were able to spend a couple of hours in Yellowstone National Park. It brought back such sweet memories of when my husband and I were going to college in Bozeman and we would spend any spare time camping and hiking around in the park with our three oldest when they were little guys. It was simply wonderful. Now we were experiencing it with all our kids, what an amazing place.
Would it be a visit to YNP without seeing elk in Mammoth?
Emma and her daddy.
Bison raising a bit of dust.
With his namesake!
Cow elk, grazing.
A nice sized bull elk.
A tired little boy.
We had decided to stop at a spot to walk through and look at some of the geothermal areas with the kids. We had thought this spot would be a bit safer than others in respect to worrying about one of our littles falling into something until we spotted the guy above. At first all we could see was a group of people gathered around and a bit of brown fuzz moving. We thought it must be a bison with as close as people were and then we saw that it is was a Grizzly! Whoa!! It’s not smart to be around a bison that close let alone a bear. Luckily the guy decided to run off into the trees, towards the trail we were going to go on. We decided our hike would have to be postponed until our next trip through. Their were people dumb enough to go running down the trail to get a better look at the bear, some of them with little kids even. Yikes. It was still pretty neat to get a quick glimpse of the guy though.
To top it all off, on our way out we were able to stop and listen to this guy bugle back and forth with another bull. ALWAYS extremely neat!
Just the couple of hours we spent zooming through the park made us decide we will have to return this next year with tents and all the gear to spend more time in this little spot of heaven.
On our drive to Bozeman Friday morning the mountains were so beautiful, here’s a couple of quick shots from the dash…
And some of the wildlife along the way…
And sort of a funny little story that happened along the way…Along the drive there are many little lakes, as we turned the corner and seen yet another lake I could hear Garrett in the back saying-“Look at how many outhouses are on that lake!” I told him that’s why you don’t drink the lake water and with that his eyes got real big and he nodded in complete agreement! I then had to break the news to him that they were in fact not outhouses but that they were ice houses used by the people ice fishing on the lake to keep warm. Garrett always keeps us laughing!