Yellowstone elk herdElk in Yellowstone are usually fairly easy to see, although some areas of the park are known to have more elk than others. Elk will often bed down most of the day if the weather is too warm. See below to optimize your chances to find a herd of elk in Yellowstone.

The Best Places to Find Elk in Yellowstone

A small elk herd on the side of the Madison river in Yellowstone park

These elk were enjoying the shade on the side of the Madison river near West Yellowstone.

The areas near Old Faithful will typically have a lot of elk. They can often be seen on the banks of the Firehole and Madison rivers. The stretch of road between old Faithful Geyser and the West entrance of the park will give you a very good chance to see elk.

Another great area for Yellowstone elk is near the North entrance by Mammoth hot springs. Elk tend to be plentiful year round in this area of the park.

See the map below to find an area near you where you are likely to see some elk.

Map showing where to find elk in Yellowstone

Optimal Weather and Seasons to See Elk


Elk are just like us, they tend to lay low if it gets too hot for them. Cool weather will bring the elk out of hiding for you to get a look at them. Elk also enjoy overcast skies, the lack of sun will usually have them active.


Spring and Early Summer

During the spring and early summer elk can be seen in numbers throughout Yellowstone. The snow in the high elevations will have the elk down low enjoying the plentiful plant life near the roads where they can easily be seen.


The fall is the best time to see large amounts of active elk in the park. Elk go into “rut” (breeding season) starting in late August, and peaking in September. Bull elk will be chasing females and you are likely to see some spectacular shows put on. The rutting season is the only time of year when bull elk can be heard vocalizing “bugling” in an attempt to attract a mate. Bugling is also a way to tell other bull elk to stay away from his harem of females.

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