• Olympic: Three Parks in One

    Olympic

    National Park Washington

Roosevelt Elk

A male Roosevelt elk eats from a shrub in the rainforest

A Roosevelt bull takes a bite from a shrub in the Hoh Rain Forest.

Ken and Mary Campbell

Roosevelt Elk Cervus elaphus roosevelti

Identification:
Olympic National Park is home to the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt elk in the Pacific Northwest. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, they are the largest variety of elk in North America. Both males and females have dark brown heads and pale brown bodies. Males are larger than females, and identifiable by a set of antlers. Roosevelt elk are much larger than the black-tail deer that inhabit the same areas.

Habitat:
Elk are relatively versatile, and often occupy a range of habitats, from montane meadows and forests down to the lowland rain forests, where there is ample food. An excellent place to see elk is the Hoh Rain Forest. 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. September is a great time to hear them bugling, as it is mating season and the males compete for groups of females.

Diet:
Roosevelt elk feed mainly on ferns, shrubs, and lichens from the rain forest, as well as meadow grasses.

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Did You Know?

star-shaped purple flowers growing in a crack of a rock

That the Piper's bellflower is unique to the Olympic Mountains? Named after an early Olympic peninsula botanist, the Piper's bellflower grows in cracks and crevices of high elevation rock outcrops.