You’ll Never Get Closer to Elk: Oak Creek Feeding Station

At the beginning of March, two other travel writers, a VisitRainier employee and I experienced the feeding of the elk at Oak Creek Feeding Station, off Highway 12 near Naches in Eastern Washington (yes, it was a press trip). We got close enough to these four-legged giants to make eye contact.

 

This supplemental feeding program, began in 1945. It was adopted so that the elk wouldn’t venture into any of the agricultural areas nearby looking for food in the winter. Depending on the weather, feedings begin sometime in December and continue until March. If you visit in January or February, you’ll have the best chance of participating.

Everything is free – you just have to sign up and put your John Henry on a disclaimer. Then you can ride out into the field in a U.S. Army truck and witness the feeding of as many as 700 elk at a time. While you patiently wait your driver dispenses facts and figures about the program and cows and bulls snuffle and shift positions anticipating the upcoming buffet of hay. Then two other vehicles roll out and automatically start dispensing the bales while the regal animals jockey for position.

 

A bull can weigh up to 600 pounds, but they have no interest in the humans staring at them. They only want the food so you’re safe.

I have never witnessed anything like this and highly recommend it as a family outing.

Here’s a story my friend Carrie Uffindall wrote about it: 

Arrive before 1 p.m. to check in, visit the small museum and watch the elk head down the hill for lunch.

This entry was posted in Family Fun, Free, Seasonal, Tours, Zoos and Wildlife and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to You’ll Never Get Closer to Elk: Oak Creek Feeding Station

  1. Sheryl says:

    That must have been thrilling for you! What fun.

  2. Donna Hull says:

    I would so do this! What fun.

  3. Alexandra says:

    I got close to a moose once, in Sweden. But no one provided information this way. Sounds like an interesting trip.

  4. Living Large says:

    We have elk in Arkansas. They are majestic creatures.

  5. There are so many of them in that picture! Great to see this.

  6. Roxanne says:

    Our local elk herd came back last night. They winter elsewhere, but they come to our valley to calve in the spring. They are very, very neat. And, huge. My dogs once flushed one up out of the creek. One dog went one way. The other went the other way, and they drove the big BULL elk right toward me. Scary! He veered at the last minute and cleared our fence. Sometimes, though, the whole herd comes through, and they just mash down our fences. Silly!

  7. merr says:

    What a fun and interesting thing to do. You can learn so much by observing like this.

  8. Jane Boursaw says:

    Oh my gosh, so cool! Love your photos. We have elk in Michigan, but I never see them, like we see the herds of deer wandering on our peninsula.

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  10. What a great family activity–and free! Are there any age restrictions?

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