9:00am to Sunset
Tule Elk State Natural Reserve
What is open now?
- Day Use Areas
- Picnic Areas
- Visitor Center
What is currently closed?
- High touch areas
Protect yourself, family, friends and your community by following these prevention measures:
- Know Before You Go – Prior to leaving home, check the status of the park unit you want to visit to find out what restrictions and guidelines are in place. Have a back-up plan in case your destination is crowded. Stay home if you are sick
- Plan Ahead – Some restrooms will be temporarily closed to keep up with cleaning schedules. Bring soap/hand sanitizer.
- Play It Safe – Find out what precautions you should take when exploring the outdoors, especially if this is your first time visiting the State Park System. Learn more at parks.ca.gov/SafetyTips.
- Be COVID-19 Safe – State Parks continues to meet guidance from local and state public officials as COVID-19 is still present and still deadly. Current state guidance requires that masks must be worn in all indoor public settings, such as museums and visitor centers, irrespective of vaccine status through February 15, 2022. Read the latest COVID-19 guidance at COVID19.ca.gov.
The Tule Elk State Natural Reserve protects a small herd of tule elk, once in danger of extinction. In the 1800s, the vast herds of tule elk were greatly reduced in number by hunting and loss of habitat.
In 1874, cattleman Henry Miller began efforts to save them. At that time few tule elk remained. In 1932, the herd was given permanent protection on the land now known as the Tule Elk State Natural Reserve.
Elk from the reserve have been successfully transplanted to other areas in California. Today approximately 5,700 tule elk are again roaming the foothills and grasslands of California.
The tule elk are most active from late summer through early autumn. Visitors are encouraged to bring binoculars for better viewing.
The park has a picnic area that offers an excellent opportunity to observe birds of the San Joaquin Valley. Interpretive exhibits may be viewed to the south and east of the comfort station.
Tule Elk YouTube Video
The reserve is 20 miles west of Bakersfield off of Stockdale Highway west of I-5, in the vicinity of Buttonwillow.
The weather can be changeable; Extreme heat during summer months, cold foggy winter weather.
layered clothing is recommended.