Elk in the Grass

elk in the Valle Grande of the Valles Caldera

Always so cool to see these guys

This is the best I could do with a 300mm telephoto lens, but there they are, having a fine time in the Valle Grande of the Valles Caldera. There’s a single immature male in this photo. (A larger one was lost in the cropping.)

You don’t have to drive to the Caldera to see elk in New Mexico, obviously. We’ve seen plenty of them near Taos. They’re all over the place in the mountains. Sometimes they stand in the roadway after dark enjoying the warm pavement. This makes driving at night or in the evening especially exciting. Those things are big, in case you hadn’t noticed—bulls stand five feet at the shoulder and weigh over 700 pounds! A few years ago we nearly collided with a small group of elk crossing the highway just over Flechado Pass. I barely got the car stopped in time but did have my DSLR ready and caught the last of them!


A couple dozen in all, crashing through the trees

To this day my wife shudders at the thought of taking that road after dark. We’re about to do it again though, with me driving of course, to hear Chick Corea play in Angel Fire. He’s even older than I am. I don’t know how much more excitement I can stand. Go, man! Hell, if that doesn’t work, we’ll take away his glasses and make him drive.

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John Hamilton Farr lives at 7,000 feet in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore tells it, John is “a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” This JHFARR.COM site is the master writing archive. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page. For a complete list of all John’s writing, photography, NFTs, and social media links, please visit JHFARR.ART  

  • Joe August 10, 2013, 2:36 PM

    In about 1982 my wife-at-the-time and I were driving on a dirt road near Jack’s Camp in the Pecos Wilderness about 20 miles north of Pecos, NM and rounded a curve and saw a herd of elk right beside the road. That was the only time I ever saw an elk in the wild.

    • JHF August 10, 2013, 3:52 PM

      That’s how it often happens! There are also places where one has a good chance of seeing some, regardless, like just over Bobcat Pass from Red River, or at the Valles Caldera, and elsewhere.

  • Frank Powell August 10, 2013, 4:41 PM

    They have reintroduced Elk in to the Smokies back here in Tennessee.
    Saw them on a bike trip up over the mountains to Cherokee,NC. a few days back. They were wandering the road like they owned the place!
    Something to add to the list of wild life I see on the bike trips.

    • JHF August 12, 2013, 12:39 AM

      They do kinda own a place when they get there, don’t they? I had no idea Tennessee was doing that! Great idea, though.

  • Stu Clark August 11, 2013, 8:49 PM

    In the summer of ’86 or ’87, I was hiking southeast of Oregon’s Crater Lake and heard the sound of lots of brush being pushed aside. I immediately got close to a large cedar in time to watch a herd of about 20 Roosevelt Elk of medium to large size go past me at a good clip. My camera was tucked away, so I didn’t get a picture, but I certainly got a thrill at being so close to so many at one time!

    • JHF August 12, 2013, 12:40 AM

      What a great story. I know one fellow who found himself suddenly surrounded by grazing elk in Olympic National Park. He sat down on the ground and they walked all around him, didn’t seem to notice. How weird is that?

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