In Marin / GALLERY
WHAT YOU’LL SEE Numbering around 300, the Tomales
Point herd is one of the largest in California. Although they
are the smallest elk found in North America, they are still
formidable, with males weighing in at 450–700 pounds
and females tipping the scales at 375–425 pounds; both
genders are about seven feet long. The coloring of their
coats is light beige with a darker mane circling the neck
and a white rump. The males have impressive antlers that
are shed annually. On summer weekends, look for park
docents at the Tomales Point and Windy Gap trailheads
sporting binoculars to help you get a better view.
HISTORY Tule elk herds on the Point Reyes Peninsula disappeared by 1860 after they were hunted to extinction. More
than 100 years later, the park reintroduced them in 1978.
WHERE TO PARK To access the park via the Tomales
Point Trail, follow Pierce Point Road to the Pierce Point
Ranch parking lot. If you want to catch elk between Drakes
and Limantour beaches, follow Limantour Road to the
parking lot at Limantour Beach.
TIPS Always keep your distance. For your own safety,
use binoculars and spotting scopes. If an elk seems to be
aware of your presence and begins to move away, you are
too close. Do not feed the elk. Pets are not allowed in most
areas where elk may be seen, including the Tomales Point
Tule Elk Reserve. And do not collect or remove elk antlers;
they’re part of the ecosystem.
LUCK Y FOR US here in Marin, Point Reyes National Seashore just happens to be the only U. S. national park where tule lk can be found. Within the park they can be spotted in t wo different locations: the northwest end of the park on the Tomales
Point Trail in a 26,000-acre fenced reserve and on
slopes between Limantour and Drakes beaches. The
best time to view them is during rutting or breeding season, July–September. There’s a good chance
of hearing a bugling male trying to round up his
female harem or seeing the males spar. JOSEPH SCHELL
R a nge
Marin is the only place to see
tule elk in a national park setting.