Tule Elk SNR

State Natural Reserve

Until further notice the Reserve will be closed Monday - Thursday. The reserve will be open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and any scheduled special events. 

Tule Elk State Natural Reserve protects a small herd of tule elk, once in danger of extinction. In the 1800's, 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 elk remained. In 1932, the herd was given permanent protection on the land now known as Tule Elk State Natural Reserve.

Elk from the reserve have been successfully transplanted to other areas in California.  Today nearly 4000 tule elk are again free roaming the foothills and grasslands of California.

The 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 San Joaquin Valley.  Interpretive exhibits may be viewed to the south and east of the comfort station.
 Tule Elk YouTube Video

a male tule elk.

Tule Elk swiming


The reserve is 20 miles west of Bakersfield off of Stockdale Highway west of I-5, in the vicinity of Buttonwillow.

Seasons/Climate/Recommended clothing
The weather can be changeable; Extreme heat during summer months, cold foggy winter weather.
layered clothing is recommended.

·Park Information

  • Hours of Operation:

    8:00am to Sunset

  • Park Office Telephone:

    (661) 764-6881

  • Region

    Central Valley



  • Purchase Annual Passes



Or call the sector office at: 

Operating Hours

9:00am to Sunset 

Auto Safari

2nd and 4th Sunday of the month
(No Tour on the second Sunday of November, 25th or 23rd of December)

11:00 AM to 12:00 P.M.
Ranger led "Auto Safari" tour of the Reserve
Regular Day Use fee applies