The Hoh Campground will close to overnight use beginning at 12:00 noon on Thursday, October 8 and will remain closed through Saturday, October 31, 2015. Several herds of Roosevelt elk reside in the Hoh Valley, with one frequenting the campground and visitor use areas.
With the elk’s annual mating season or ‘rut’ in process, male elk, known as ‘bulls’, are focused and intent on finding, attracting and defending their mates. Bulls use a variety of ways to establish dominance and win mates, and frequently charging and chasing each other and using their massive antlers for sparring. The herd currently using the campground area is accustomed to human presence and many of the animals have lost their natural fear of people, creating an increased risk to campers, particularly during the mating season.
The dominance displays of the rut, along with the bulls’ characteristic mating call or ‘bugle’ make for exciting wildlife viewing, but pose a threat for people who are in the vicinity.
Visitors are required to stay at least 50 yards (half the length of a football field) from park wildlife at all times and are urged to stay in their vehicles if elk are in or around parking areas.
The Hoh Rain Forest remains open for day use, and several nature trails and a picnic area are available daily. The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is open Fridays through Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the autumn months.
Alternative Olympic National Park campgrounds can be found nearby at Mora and Kalaloch. For more information about camping in Olympic National Park, people may visit the park’s website at http://www.nps.gov/olym.
Protection of the Olympic Peninsula’s Roosevelt elk was a key reason for the establishment of Olympic National Park in 1938 and the park was almost named ‘Elk National Park.’