Whatever Weds. North American Elk

Copyright ©2022 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

One of the highlights we had while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park last October were the North American Elk herds. The surprising thing is just how BIG they are. They stand 5 feet tall at the shoulder, and weigh several hundred pounds. The females are half their size. Only the males have antlers which they shed each winter. Their antler can grow up to an inch a day!

One morning while in Estes Park I saw a Bull laying in the shade with his harem and made my over to get some images of them.

The bull …

North American Elk Bull

He had about dozen females (called cows) in his harem. Here he is with some of them just chillin.

Bull Elk with some of his harem

Here’s an image of a bull and some of his harem we saw the night before just after the sun went behind the mountains while in Rocky Mountain National Park.

North American Elk Bull with Harem

The rutting season begins in October so the bulls were on high alert keeping a close eye on their harems and keeping them close by.

Fun Fact-

Free roaming elk have a lifespan of 10-13 years in the wild.


We really enjoyed seeing these wonderful animals while we in the park. They really do enrich the visit.

Fuji X-T3| Fujinon 100-400mm| PS CC 23.1.1

more to come

59 thoughts on “Whatever Weds. North American Elk

  1. Amongst animals like hippos and giraffes it’s hard to spot who’s the king of the jungle, but your photos of the elks leave no doubt as to who’s the king of the “harem” (what a delightful use of the word!). Size and antlers do matter! 🙂

    Thank you for sharing such eye-opening photos!

  2. You got some excellent images of them. I have not seen them in nation parks but in the wild/national forest and they are indeed magnificent beast! I remember after coming out west and the first time I heard their call, and thinking ” Oh wow , what is that ?’ For your readers who have never heard the Elk I recommend they give it a “google”. It is not a sound you forget.

  3. Love this post, Deborah. Thank so much for the visit. I did not know they traveled in a harem. That’s a lot of responsibility for one elk! Did you ever see my post on elk? They were totally serendipitous. Here’s a link to a recent post with some of my favorite pictures of them. https://alwayswrite.blog/2022/01/23/late-night-sunday-stills-wild-eyed-coffee-share-of-one-of-my-memorable-vacations-for-lapc/ Have a great Valentine’s day. I’m sure your elk are enjoying themselves. 🙂

  4. I share your awe and appreciation for elk, Deborah, and your photos here were a true pleasure. It’s always a thrill to see a male with such an impressive rack.

  5. They are wonderful creatures for sure … great captures! We have lots of them here and I see a herd or two or three almost every time I go out exploring. Sometimes they come right through our property.

  6. Enjoyed seeing the photos from your visit to this national park – when we were in Estes park in the 90s we didn’t see elk like you Have shown / so this was cool

    1. 😂 That’s funny!!

      Once when out in Point Reyes NP looking for the Tule Elk a bull came out the bushes with all kinds of branches and vines hanging all over his antlers and looked so funny. I have a photo of him in my archives and I think I shared it then. He may not have hit any trees but he sure did snag some bling!! 😀

  7. How interesting Deborah to see these large creatures, reminds me of our large Kangaroos, known as a buck has has a harem of does, and is very protective of them and willing to fight for them as they do. I always have to give them a wide birth when encountering them in the wild. I guess it may be the same for the elk ?

    1. Thank you, Ashley! Here too I give them a wide berth especially during the rutting season.

      Thank you for sharing Kangaroo behavior and what they’re called too! It amazes me and boggles my mind that you have seen them in the wild probably more than once!! While I’ve only seen them at the zoo, in photos, and T.V!!

  8. Wonderful shots! I am still anticipating my first glance of the elk that inhabit Vancouver Island. In the meantime, your gorgeous photos remind me of the elk I saw along the roadsides when I visited the Grand Canyon. Thanks for sharing!


      1. I live on Vancouver Island, Deborah…and the elk here are called Roosevelt elk, apparently. There is a town to the south of me where they wander the streets daily…I hope to visit there soon. I think the residents find them annoying but I would love to see some there!

        1. I had forgotten the name of the Is you live on! Doh!! I hope you get to the Elk where they roam freely. I can imagine being annoyed if they were eating gardens, and being a nuisance, but oh they’re so beautiful and amazing critters.

  9. Wonderful photos. And my award for the most unexpected line of the day is: “Bull Elk with some of his harem.” Never thought I’d be reading those words today. 😊

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