Tule Elk State Natural Reserve

On my quest to visit all of the California State Parks, I made a small pit stop off the 5 Freeway at the Tule Elk State Natural Reserve. This particular park was on the shortlist of parks to get axed last year (2012) but since that measure did not pass, it is still open for the time being. That being said, when I went in 2012, it was pretty much a ghost town, read on for the full review.


  • Day Use Fee
  • Only open Fri-Sun
  • 9 AM to sunset
  • Auto Safari on 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month

Tule Elk State Reserve

My time at the Tule Elk State Reserve was somewhat of a strange experience.  After pulling off the 5 Freeway and driving about 4 miles, I saw the sign that told me I had made it to the park.

Tule Elk State Reserve 1

I drove in and parked in the small parking lot near the viewing platform that has been created. I looked all over to see any signs of life, be it elk or human, and saw no one; the only living thing there to greet us were two dogs walking around the property.

Tule Elk State Reserve 7

The dogs completely hated Amie and growled and barked at her for the entire 20 minutes that we were there, but for some reason, they loved me. She spent most of the time in the car, and I walked around, trying to see if I could find any of the aforementioned elk.

Tule Elk State Reserve 6

After about 20 minutes walking the grounds, I still didn’t see any people or any elk.

Tule Elk State Reserve 2

I walked over to the bathrooms, which were nice and much better than a pit stop at one of the gas stations along the way, and saw my only elk of the day.

Tule Elk State Reserve 8

Unfortunately, this elk was simply the sign showing what was in store for me here. After walking around for a couple more minutes, I took some pictures of the beautiful landscape this reserve sat on and got back in my car.

Tule Elk State Reserve 5

The highlight of my time here was seeing one of the dogs standing on top of a picnic bench as I pulled out of the park. He looked like he was protecting the area from danger, like Amie.

Tule Elk State Reserve 9

All in all, I have a hard time recommending this state park. It was a nice place to get out and stretch our legs, but even on the weekend we went on, there was literally no one there to help us or show us around. It is sad to see some of the state parks like this, and I hope us Californians will start getting out and exploring the parks we have in our backyard, like this one, so that it will be taken care of and preserved for the next generation.

Tule Elk State Reserve 4

If you have been here and seen more than me, I would love to hear about it in the comments!

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