In 2000 there were over one million elk reported throughout the United States, with the largest population in Colorado. There are four different varieties of elk in the U.S. spread across thirty states. Rocky Mountain Elk, the species that makes its home in Colorado, is the most prevalent variety. The others are Roosevelt, Tule and Manitoba.
Rocky Mountain Elk
Ninety percent of the elk in the United States are Rocky Mountain Elk. As their name suggests they reside primarily in the Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana. They can also be found in Arkansas, California, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
Roosevelt Elk are the physically largest species of elk within the United States. They are also known as the Olympic Elk, and the establishment of Olympic National Park was in large part to protect the species. They reside in the Pacific Northwestern states of Washington and Oregon as well as California and Alaska.
Tule Elk are the species with the smallest population within the United States. They are found only in California. They live in a variety of environments from central grasslands to coastal areas. The largest herd of Tule elk is located with the Point Reyes National Seashore National Park. They are half the size of the Roosevelt Elk and are also described as the dwarf elk.
Manitoba Elk are found predominantly within the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Within the United States they are found in the North Dakota, Tennesse and Kentucky. They are similar to the Rocky Mountain elk but are slightly shorter and stockier with a darker coat.