Where to Find Elk in Cannon Beach
Credit: Cannon Beach Chamber of Commerce
Although they make themselves scarce during the busy summer months, herds of Roosevelt Elk are frequently spotted at some of their favorite grazing grounds around Cannon Beach the rest of the year. These amazing creatures can be seen in herds of a dozen or more and adults can be 10 feet in length, weigh over 1,000 pounds and stand five feet to the shoulder. Bull elks can carry an impressive multi-point set of antlers while herds are often made up of several females and juveniles.
For those who know when and where to look, there’s a good chance to encounter these impressive animals on a visit to Cannon Beach. Here are some of the most likely spots to encounter these impressive creatures:
Meadows of Ecola State Park
Roosevelt Elk seem to enjoy the jaw-dropping vistas of Ecola State Park as much as hikers and sightseers. For elk, the nearby rainforest provides stealthy hiding and the meadows surrounding the main parking lot is an all you can eat buffet. These meadows are good bets for spotting elk at dawn, dusk or on particularly quiet days.
Along the edge of Ecola Creek
Just a block or two from downtown, the grassy spots on both sides of Ecola Creek are popular grazing ground for elk. Ne Cus’ park and the grounds of the former Cannon Beach Elementary School on the south bank or the lawn at Les Shirley Park along the north side are favorite haunts. Patient observers may even catch them crossing the creek between these areas.
Behind the tennis courts and the Cannon Beach Information Center at Second and Spruce streets, the athletic field of City Park offers some of the greenest grass in town and an invitation for elk to emerge from the nearby wetlands to graze. The elk are so fond of these fields that local coaches occasionally have to put practice on hold while a herd grazes through.
Highway 101 Sunset Boulevard Exit: The small grassy portion of land between the highway and the looping Sunset Boulevard exit to midtown Cannon Beach is also popular with elk and a reminder to always use caution when driving this stretch of Highway 101. Maybe it’s their way of welcoming visitors, but the herd seems to have an affinity for munching on the grasses and napping in this clearing on the east side of the highway.
Elk watching etiquette and safety
All wild animals should be observed from a respectful distance. Elk are certainly not an exception and should be enjoyed from the safety of a vehicle whenever possible. Feeding or approaching them closely is not recommended and can put an observer in danger if the elk feel threatened or like something is a danger to their young. Additionally, dogs should be kept on a leash, quiet and at a safe distance. During fall mating season and during late spring to early summer when they have babies, elk are more likely to be aggressive and should be treated with even higher levels of caution.