Monday, July 6, 2015

Roosevelt Elk

You'd think all the dunes, ocean, and marshes near my new home would be plenty enough to explore... but let's not forget about the redwood forests! On Friday morning, I drove up to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, which is part of the Redwood National and State Parks that protect a big chunk of redwood forest in the area. My main goal was to check out a trail among old-growth redwoods, and I did make it there eventually, but I got sidetracked when I passed a herd of Roosevelt Elk right next to the highway:

My first elk! Roosevelt Elk are apparently the largest of the several subspecies of elk in North America, and a sizable population lives in these parks. Even if I hadn't spotted this herd, I couldn't have missed all the cars and people lined up along the sides of the road to check them out. These are popular animals for sure. Most of the individuals in this herd were females or young males with little stumpy antlers (there were a few fawns as well), but one male in particular was looking very impressive indeed:

I've read that mature male elk live separate from females during the summer, so perhaps this is a relatively young individual just with particularly well-developed headgear. Or maybe there's more to these animals' summer living arrangements than I understand. In any case, he was magnificent, and he seemed to know it:

I sat in my car with my camera pointing out the window and he came walking directly my way. Ah, he's like a supermodel:

I was getting a little nervous with this big animal so close (these elk are still dangerous even if they are really used to people!), but I had to take a couple more pictures before I rolled up the window:

I love all the different types of fuzziness on this guy; antlers, forehead, and neck:

Oooh my goodness. By this point I had realized that I'd forgotten to charge my camera's battery and it was almost drained. And the elk were wandering off into the forest anyway. So I continued on my way, and soon I was walking through a dense redwood forest:

And under big flowering Pacific Rhododendrons:

I didn't realize how much I'd missed being the woods until I was actually there:

(And I wonder if the trees in "normal" forests are going to look small to me after living here. It doesn't seem likely. These trees still just look huge.)

A few Columbia Lilies (Lilium columbianum) dangled brilliant blooms next to the path:

All those freckles are quite pretty from below:

After some time in the woods, I made my way back home, and wouldn't you know it, I passed the same herd of Roosevelt Elk along the highway again. This time, the herd was dozing in a small clearing next to a campground:

Male and female, old and young:

Look, a baby:

These creatures looked so peaceful:

And the same male from earlier that morning was resting now, but he was no less magnificent:

Sleepy boy:

Yes, redwood forests are amazing. I'm excited to explore more again soon!


  1. Your pictures are just wonderful and I'm glad you are sharing with us.

  2. Wow! How exciting to see these elk and redwoods.

  3. Lots of "Woods and wildlife"out there!