Elk In Yellowstone: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Elk In Yellowstone
Elk In Yellowstone: Everything You Need To Know About Them

We all know how diverse the Yellowstone National Park is. From bears to bison, the park hosts a large population of wildlife from all levels of the ecosystem triangle. And within its ecosystem lives one of the most important mammals. You will find them in most photographs due to their prominent large antlers photobombing all personal and wildlife pictures.

Yes, we are talking about the elks of Yellowstone. Did you know elks are the most abundant large mammals in the park? 

Yes, and any changes to their population in the park will have a significant effect on the flora and fauna of the park. 

Below I’ve explained everything you need to know about these creatures in Yellowstone. 

Are There Any Elk in Yellowstone?

Yes, there is a stable elk population in the Yellowstone National Park. Note that they are the most abundant undulates and a significant part of many of the park carnivore’s diet including mountain lions, bears, and scavengers including coyotes and bald eagles. While they are not the largest deer species, they are the densest in the park.

How Many Elk Are in Yellowstone?

Like in many places, the population of elk in Yellowstone varies according to the time of the year and is not distributed uniformly across its 3,472 square miles of land. 

As per the National Park Service, there are about 10,000 to 20,000 elks found in the park during summer and only 4000 during winter. This can be attributed to the fact that many are hunted by wolves during winter as it is at this season that elks are weakest.

Further, their decrease is attributed to the significant increase in predator population across the other states like Montana which includes a part of the Yellowstone National Park. 

It is important to note that, any change in the elk population across the park, drastically affects the environment of the park and further research is underway to determine these effects.

Where Can I See Elk in Yellowstone?

Elk In Yellowstone
Elk In Yellowstone: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Elks inhabit almost every part of Yellowstone National Park. But if you want to improve your chances to observe them, then visit places such as Mammoth Hot Springs, Lamar Valley, Hayden Valley, Upper and Lower Geyser Basins, and Gibbon River Valley. 

But remember, these creatures are wild, and their movements are unpredictable. Therefore, maintain a safe distance from them when trying to view them from a fixed location. We would recommend at least a 100 yards distance between you and the creature.

Also Check Our Guide On Elk In Wyoming

What Time of Year are Elk in Yellowstone?

Elks are abundant throughout the year in Yellowstone. But their distribution and behavior vary based on the season. For instance, during spring, elk migrate from lower elevations to higher as the snow melts and green patches of vegetation grow. In summer, these creatures stay in higher elevations where there is abundant food, and the temperature is cooler compared to lower regions. 

In fall, which is their breeding season, these creatures are highly active and can be found in and around meadows and open valleys. And in winter these creatures migrate to lower elevations in search of food and also to escape the snow and cold weather.

What eats Elk in Yellowstone?

Elks are often consumed by the carnivores in the park including wolves, mountain lions, coyotes, and bears. In general, it is the elk calves and weak elk adults that are targeted and killed for consumption. 

Mountain lions and wolves follow these creatures, attack them from the back and bite them at the bottom of the skull or neck to kill them. In fact, wolves kill in general about 2000 elks each year and as many as 11,000 elks in the Greater Yellowstone region.

Can You Hunt & Shoot Elk in Yellowstone?

Hunting and feeding of any and every wildlife found in the park is prohibited. So, no, you cannot hunt and shoot elk in Yellowstone National Park. 

It is the park’s aim to preserve its natural habitats and wildlife including the elk population. But there may be some areas around the park that may allow hunting and shooting of elk. This is because these regions come under the regulations of other state wildlife agencies. 

You can, however, view and observe elks in Yellowstone National Park safely. Just follow the regulations set up by the park and give respect to every wildlife space.

Also Check Our Guide On Elk In America

Which U.S. State has the most Elk?

Yes, the Yellowstone National Park does have a substantial population of elk. But Colorado state alone has more than a hundred times the population in Yellowstone. The state of Colorado inhabits about 250,000 population of elks distributed unevenly throughout its landscapes. 

Did you know, Colorado has the largest population of elk (wapiti) in the world? Some other state with a stable and large population of elks includes Oregon, Idaho, and Wyoming.


And that was everything you need to know about the Elk In Yellowstone. I hope this article was informative and your queries were answered.

Thank You For Reading!

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