The Majestic Rocky Mountain Elk

One of the treasured wild animals here in the Inland Northwest is the Rocky Mountain Elk (also known as wapiti). There are still many large herds of these majestic animals roaming throughout Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and Washington.

The name wapiti is from the Native American word waapiti, meaning white rump and is of Shawnee origin. Rocky Mountain Elk (C. canadensis nelsoni) are more than twice as heavy as mule deer and generally have a more reddish hue to their hair coloring, as well as large, buff colored rump patches and smaller tails. Elk cows average around 500 pounds and stand 4½ feet at the shoulder, and are 6½ feet from nose to tail. Bulls are some 25% larger than cows at maturity, weighing an average of 700 pounds, standing 5 feet at the shoulder and averaging 8 feet in length. Only the males have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each winter. The largest antlers may be around 4 feet long and weigh 40 pounds! Their antlers are made of bone and may grow at a rate of 1 inch per day.

Learn more about these magnificent creatures and see them for yourself on one of TMI Tours’ Wildlife and Waterfalls in Yellowstone Vacations. Don’t forget to pack your camera too. You will definitely want to capture photographs of these beautiful animals!