Elk are a large member of the deer family with thick necks, long, thin legs, and a conspicuous light-colored rump patch. They are often found in herds, which allows them to watch for danger. An elk's preferred habitat in the park is open shrubland and grasslands interspersed with hardwood draws and juniper slopes. Elk are herbivorous and their diets include grasses, forbs, and shrubby plants. They are most active at dawn and dusk.
Mature males (called bulls) grow large antlers for use during the breeding season, when they round up groups of females (called cows) and defend them from other males. During the autumn rutting season, bull elk announce their presence by bugling loudly. Calves are usually born in early June.