Bishop Visitor Logo

Bishop Visitor's Center

Tule Elk

A hulking and magnificent animal in its own right, approximately 400 – 500 Tule Elk roam the Owens Valley area, mostly between Lone Pine and Bishop.  This subspecies (Cervus canadensis ssp. nannodes) of elk is not native to the East Sierra but is actually from the San Joaquin Valley and coastal areas.  Primarily an inhabitant of open valleys, the Sierra was a barrier to eastward migration.  These elk derive their name from the tule plant that it feeds on, which grows in marshlands of the Central Valley to the grassy hills of the coast.

An estimated 500,000 tule elk roamed these regions when Europeans first arrived to California. As the Central Valley was settled by ranchers and farmers in the 1800’s, elk numbers and habitat gradually diminished to a point where they were in danger of extinction. Legislation was passed to protect them in 1873. And even though they began to recover, farmers considered the elk a nuisance because they would eat their crops. As the valley’s communities and farmland developed further, the elk became imperiled. In 1933, a rancher named Walter Dow took about 55 penned elk to his ranch in Owens Valley. Although they were removed from their native habitat, they adapted and flourished and now occupy City of Los Angeles, Bureau of Land Management, and Inyo National Forest land.

Tule elk is the smallest subspecies of all American elks. Smaller in stature than Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt Elk, the average adult male weight is only 450 to 550 pounds (200 to 250 kg) while females average 375 to 425 pounds (170 to 193 kg).

Tule elk can reliably be found in Carrizo Plain National Monument, Point Reyes National Seashore, and portions of the Owens Valley.

The best place to view these elk is at the Tule Elk Wildlife Viewpoint on U.S. Highway 395 several miles south of Big Pine. Mornings and early evenings from spring through fall are the best times to see these large animals. The herd stays close to or on close to irrigated fields to take advantage of water and feed.

The roadside pull-outs exist on both sides of the highway.  They are wide and a safe distance from the road, which allows for wheelchair or disabled access.

For further information, please contact the Chamber office. You can can also read more on Wildlife Viewing here.

Check out the Digital Bishop Visitor Guide!

Archived Stories

Tell us:

How do you enjoy OUR BACKYARD?

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

1 day ago

Family Fun Day - mark your calendars!Looking for a fun event for the entire family? Join us at the Family Fun Day on May 11th between 10am-2pm at Bishop City Park! ... See MoreSee Less

Family Fun Day - mark your calendars!

3 days ago

Enjoy this bird's eye view of Mt. Whitney!

Visit California
Just an average weekend soaring through the skies of Inyo County and getting a front-row seat view of Mount Whitney, California's tallest mountain. 😉 http://bit.ly/2E0A7dl
... See MoreSee Less

 

Comment on Facebook

"Hey Ma, top of the world."

That looks so cool! Thanks for sharing.

It's one way to get to or over the summit. Would still like to do it the old fashioned way. Will be sharing. Thanks. :-)

Bamos

Letsgo

Ann Craig

Marcela Sedano-Jensen

Bree McNamara...you hiked that monster!! It's beautiful :)

Joe Shermer can see you doing this

Roger Klein lookie here.

I wouldn’t even fly a small plane into that area. Death wish.

+ View more comments

5 days ago

Should be a good week for wildflowers! Stop by the Visitors Center to pick up a copy of our guide to the eastern Sierra wildflowers and be sure to tag @visitbishop and #trackthebloom in your photo posts. Happy wildflower hunting!The wildflower bloom moves both northward and higher in elevation as Spring progresses. During the past week flowers were spotted as high as 5,000 feet in the eastern Sierra footslopes. Several wilderness areas west of Ridgecrest offer great wildflower viewing opportunities. Several canyons offer access points for hiking and flower viewing as visitors climb the footslopes. Thank you to all public lands visitors practicing #LeaveNoTrace principles while you #TracktheBloom! ... See MoreSee Less

Should be a good week for wildflowers! Stop by the Visitors Center to pick up a copy of our guide to the eastern Sierra wildflowers and be sure to tag @visitbishop and #trackthebloom in your photo posts. Happy wildflower hunting!
Load more
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!