Longtime Oregonian travel writer Terry Richard reminds us in a recent article of a great opportunity to observe elk in the wild—the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. A few miles inland from Reedsport, Oregon, Dean Creek is a popular tourist spot along Hwy. 38, where “visitors are treated to up-close views of Roosevelt elk, with the herd sometimes reaching as many as 120 elk.”
This particular viewing area is jointly managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Year-round, elk can be observed grazing at the grassy edge of a wooded area beside the highway. The viewing area and several pullouts often get crowded, so as Richard says, “Be sure to pull well off the highway and drive with care, especially at night.”
Richard goes on to write, “The bulls drop their antlers in spring, but they quickly grow them back with a covering of velvet. The bulls undergo the rut from mid-September through October. Pregnant cows wander off into the woods in the spring but return a couple of weeks later with a baby calf in late May or June.”
The Dean Creek viewing area is just that—a viewing area. Exploring is not part of the venue. Visitors must stay behind a fence when observing the elk. Collecting antlers is against the law. Restrooms are available, and they are wheelchair accessible.
Supplemental feed is not provided to the elk. These large animals feel safe, and there is an abundance of cover.
Richard adds, “Wildlife watching at Dean Creek is best in the morning and evening, the same as pretty much everywhere else. Elk are in residence throughout the year, but don’t be surprised if you pull up to the viewing area in the middle of a hot day and don’t see any. Timing is everything when it comes to wildlife watching.”