Camping With Elk on California’s Redwood Coast

Elk Country RV Resort and Campground

After leaving Chico for our road trip to Oregon our first camping spot was at Elk Country RV Park between Trinidad and Orick, California. Besides a location near the redwoods, I chose this park because it advertised having a herd of wild elk that roamed the camping area. It is not often you get to camp near elk so this was the spot for us. The elk did not disappoint. Although they frequently moved around and at times were not seen, they usually made a showing some time each day.

While checking in, the campground office gave us a paper called “Elk Rules.” The page was actually full of information such as the following: “DO NOT approach the elk, keep your distance from them, give them their space by staying about 75-100 feet away. DO NOT look an elk in the eye, they consider this a challenge. Look away if they are staring at you. Calmly but quickly walk away from them. Elk live here, or rather we live with them. They will graze anywhere within the campground, schoolhouse, barn and pasture. Elk are often grazing around RV’s, tents and cars. Take a look before you go outside your trailer or tent.” My favorite was the following: “If the herd prevents you from returning to your site, you can always go up and wait at the store porch or find an Elk Country Rv Resort staff member and they can help you.”

It is true that if the elk had decided to hang out at our camp site we would not be able to chase them off and go back into our trailer. We talked to one couple who were camping with a tent and they had that happen to them. They returned one day to find their tent surrounded and had to just wait it out until the elk left. In the photo below, about six males decided to relax right next to a motor home. They were there for quite awhile.

One of the main things visitors want to see when coming to Redwoods National Park (RNP) are the elk. There are a few meadows in RNP where they hang out but I never saw them at those places. The elk found here are actually called Roosevelt Elk, named for our former president Teddy Roosevelt who worked to preserve them. He created what is now Olympic National Park mostly as an elk reserve. Roosevelt Elk can be found in the Northwestern states, on the coasts from Northern California up into British Columbia. I read that these elk are a success story as at one time they were hunted almost to extinction with only a few hundred animals left. Today they number in the thousands. There are four subspecies of elk and the Roosevelt are the largest in body size. Rocky Mountain elk though have the largest antlers.

Elk traffic jam on Highway 101

The historic one room Stone Lagoon School is located on the campground in a large meadow. This is a popular elk hangout and can be seen by travelers driving up Highway 101. I remember on my first trip up the redwood coast many years ago seeing this building with the elk nearby.

Stone Lagoon School

Besides having the elk as neighbors, we really enjoyed this large and lovely campground. Although we never saw elk at our site, we did have a flock of quail come to visit. Mark also alerted me to a fox that ran by and I followed it near a grassy area where it posed for some photos taken with my long lens.

Hard to imagine we have lived in this little trailer for over two years!
Gray Fox

We were fortunate to be less than a mile away from a really nice, secluded beach in Humboldt Lagoons State Park. It had been awhile since we had been on the Pacific Coast as our travels the past few years have been focused so much on the Eastern U.S. It was great to be close to a Northern California beach again. Here are a few sunset photos from our visits there.

Orick was the town closest to our campground but it didn’t offer much in services and appears to have seen better days. There are no gas stations here but a general store had one ancient gas pump with a price of a mere $4.69 per gallon. Yikes! We got the minimum amount and decided to get a full tank in the town of Klamath further north. The owner herself suggested this. I was surprised that a town bordering the southern end of Redwood National Park did not have eateries and gas stations. Redwood carvings are popular here and the shop next to the one pump store had some fun looking ones.

Redwood National Park offered some great scenery and walks, so stay tuned for my next post!

Did we make it through the tree? Nope, not even close

2 thoughts on “Camping With Elk on California’s Redwood Coast”

  1. Many things to love here. Emma and I LOVE the bear carvings. You probably saw the two we have, those carvings are so cool. Animals are always a huge bonus, the comfort they have grazing around the park is so cool. Although I think Zida would have an absolute conniption. I also have a memory driving through one of those trees as a kid, is that the same one? Beautiful place!

    1. Thanks for your comment Matt! I love seeing wood carvings on our travels and that place had some good ones of not only bears but other animals like whales and fish. The elk were definitely a great asset to our campground. That was the first time I had seen that drive through tree, so no it was not one we took you to as a kid.

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