|Rocky Mountain elk issues a challenge to nearby bull elk.|
|Rocky Mountain elk playfully spar.|
|Rocky Mountain elk stand alert.|
|A Rocky Mountain elk anticipates feeding time.|
I recommend arriving here around 10:30, right after the feeding of the big horn sheep (once they are fed there isn't much reason to stick around). The first tour truck departs at 11:00 am. They then run every hour, or half hour depending on the demand. Sign-ups are in the visitors' center and can fill up fast. You can also call ahead and reserve your group's spot on the trucks. Information is available at their web site, as well as information and directions to other viewing spots within the Oak Creek Wildlife Area.
|Guided tour at Oak Creek Wildlife Area.|
|Oak Creek feed truck prepares for food drop.|
This is a winter feeding program only, and numbers of animals can vary from year to year depending on the harshness of winter. Numbers were way down this year during my visit, sporting only 670 elk vs. the 1,000+ I have seen other years. However, this decrease actually made it easier to photograph them, offering easier isolation of the animals.
|A feed truck makes it's way through the herd at Oak Creek.|
January and February are the best months to view these animals. December is too early due to its closeness to hunting season; the animals are still quite nervous and stressed. It is not uncommon to see maimed animals. A three-legged cow has been present the past four years. Unable to run or even walk fast, I'm amazed at her resiliency.
Oak Creek Wildlife Area is a place you want to visit and take the family. I return each year with my kids in tow, and they absolutely love it. Try it - you'll be hooked!