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:

Follow Us on Instagram

Join Us on Facebook!

Comments Box SVG iconsUsed for the like, share, comment, and reaction icons

10 hours ago

Sunsets around here never get old. 😍
#nofilter #visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
... See MoreSee Less

Sunsets around here never get old. 😍
#nofilter #visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

Classic Western Sky with cattle to add to the picture. Hearing some Western music in the back ground. Just need a windmill. <3

Those Happy Cows love the Bishop sunsets.

I've got a lot of nice trout up in Bishop I love it there

Beautiful picture

I love it in the late afternoon when the Sierra's cast their shadow on the White Mountains

View more comments

14 hours ago

... See MoreSee Less

Comment on Facebook

Snow in the mountains, but dry in the valley, that's why we love Bishop!

Home sweet home beautiful

Ready to roll there!!!!

Beautiful

Pretty

View more comments

19 hours ago

Definitely feels and looks like winter around here these days.... this is a shot from yesterday.
📷 by Julie Faber
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard
... See MoreSee Less

Definitely feels and looks like winter around here these days.... this is a shot from yesterday. 
📷 by Julie Faber
#visitbishop #bishopBIGbackyard

Comment on Facebook

wow, such a beautiful post, need long johns to stay longer then an hour in that snow ?

Fabulous!

... name of the "pyramid peak" please.....

Wish you'd post what mountains we're looking at. Lovely photograph!

Mt. Tom

This is absolutely beautiful! 😊😀

Awesome picture

Hello Tom!

Beautiful

Beautiful

Frank

I need to go fishing on the Owens or PVR, been a while.

View more comments

3 days ago

Who loves a little winter fishing???? We've got it year-round here!!Out side enjoying the lower Owens River. Snow storms are rare in the Owens Valley. Snow only lasts a few days at the most. Photo by @leviaguilera_photography ... See MoreSee Less

Who loves a little winter fishing???? Weve got it year-round here!!

Comment on Facebook

Glad to see L A didn’t get all the Owens valley water!

Beautiful background !

Looks cold, but what a great place.

plenty of brown trout,large trout at bridgport res

always did ice fishing onway to bridgport

He should wear one of those wrist bands or forehead bands which shows his temperature so he can regulate. Risky sports have science to make them safer.

Love to go fishing in this stream ! Look at the great snow.😁

Refreshing, stunning, incredibly beautiful and the bestest fishing ever ! I love Bishop !😲👍🇺🇸🦅🇺🇸🎅☃️🎄💥

Oh yea!! He’s gettin them native Browns right there!!

I have fished the Lower Owens for many years, winter is the best because of reduced flows. Great Blue wing olive hatches, and plenty of wild browns. I fished this same run pictured . Love this River and the town of Bishop.

Benton crossing?

That looks so amazing

Jo Nathan we need to go asap!

Do you know where your legs are?

Is that you Josh Beck?

Fred Powers

♥️

View more comments

Load more
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!