The Roosevelt elk, named after former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, is the largest type of elk found in North America. At one time they were nearly extinct — by 1925 the California population had dropped to as few as 15. Thanks to successful conservation efforts, however, thousands of them now live along the coast from Humboldt County north to Vancouver Island in British Columbia. California’s Roosevelt elk population alone has rebounded to over 1,000.
Visitors to northern Humboldt County are often amazed and delighted to discover that herds of wild Roosevelt elk can easily be observed grazing and resting not far from well-traveled roads. If you want to see them yourself, you just need to know where to go. In Humboldt County, the best place to find elk is in the southern part of Redwood National and State Parks. Three spots in particular provide exceptional viewing opportunities:
Elk Prairie — located along Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway south of the entrance to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park.
Davison Road — you’ll find elk along either side of Davison Road, just west of Hwy 101 about 3 miles north of Orick.
Gold Bluffs Beach — where you’ll find wild Roosevelt elk roaming up and down the beach. To get there just continue west on
Davison Road to a 4-mile long unpaved road that will take you right to Gold Bluffs Beach.
Elk are wild animals and can be dangerous, so do not get too close to them. They are best viewed through binoculars. If you want a closeup photo of them, you should use a telephoto lens rather than walking up to the animals.