See Roosevelt Elk in Olympic National Park

The largest wild herd of Roosevelt elk in the Pacific Northwest lives in Olympic, so your chances of spotting one are good.

Olympic National Park was originally organized to protect the Roosevelt elk and provides both summer and winter habitat for them. The park houses the largest wild herd of Roosevelt elk left in the Pacific Northwest, which is probably the reason they are also called “Olympic elk.” No trip is complete without observing these iconic animals, and your chances of spotting them are good.

Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, these dark brown ungulates are the largest subspecies of elk in North America, with bulls sometimes reaching 1,100 pounds and cows more than 600 pounds. Small herds of about 30 cows and calves band together and browse on ferns, lichens, and meadow grasses year-round, while bulls tend to live alone.

In September, listen for the eerie bugling of bulls during the rut (mating season).

Bull elk battling during the autumn rut in Olympic National Park
The bull elk battle to prove their superiority during the autumn rutNPS Public Domain

Where to See Roosevelt Elk in Olympic

Everywhere from alpine meadows to low-elevation rainforests on the park’s west side, but the Hoh Rainforest is a prime viewing spot. These non-migratory herds stay in the Hoh area throughout the year, banding together in herds of around 20 and consisting of females and their calves. Male elk, or bulls, can be seen singly or in pairs.

Bull elk in the Hoh Rainforest
Give the right of way to elk. NPS Public Domain