Skip to main content

The Top 10 Places to Kill an Elk in the U.S.

Kill an Elk
Getty Images: Matt Kaminski

Love to elk hunt? So do we. And here's our top ten favorite places to kill an elk in the U.S.

There is no experience that is more awe inspiring for the American hunter than elk hunting. It's an experience all of its own, and so different than hunting whitetails. You will know what we mean the first time you see a big bull elk crest a hill bugling loudly. Once you have experienced it once, you will want to go after them every hunting season. Fortunately, hunting opportunities abound across the U.S. From the backcountry public land experiences in the Rocky Mountains to private land hunts in the east, there are plenty of places to pursue these big game animals.

From Pennsylvania to Oregon, we've gathered the best places to hunt elk in the country. So if you're ready to plan your next elk hunting trip, consider one of these. Even if you don't get a bull, it'll still be a trip you'll never forget.

Whether you want to hunt archery or rifle season, these are the top 10 places with the best elk hunting here in the United States.

1. Grand Junction, Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado, could be called a hunter's mecca. No matter what direction you go, you're surrounded by prime hunting land for nearly 100 miles. And with the largest migratory rocky mountain elk herd in the county, you won't ever want to leave. Not only is there plenty of elk and beautiful scenery with the beautiful mountain ranges, but 70 to 80 percent of western Colorado is available to public hunters, giving you some over-the-counter (OTC) DIY-style hunting opportunities that few other states offer.

2. Cody, Wyoming

In Cody, Wyoming, it doesn't matter if you want to use a bow or a rifle, this part of the state offers you the best of both worlds. Oh, there is a ton of mule deer here too if you want to pursue both. With its beautiful scenery and picturesque landscape, you can hunt for a day around camp or consider going deeper into the wild. Wyoming offers you some of the most remote land in the lower 48, and with options of packing in on horses or mule, you can experience the hunting trip of a lifetime in this wilderness area.

3. Los Alamos, New Mexico

With a tough lottery, it can take years to be eligible to elk hunt in New Mexico. But if you're one of the lucky few who get drawn, Los Alamos offers public hunting that will give you an experience you won't forget.

With an 80 percent success rate, you can get your chance to harvest some of the biggest, most magnificent trophy racks in the country. But beware, New Mexico mandates non-residents have a hunting guide, so you best be ready to fork over cash for this trip.

4. Coconino National Forest, Arizona

Many elk hunters know that Arizona has its fare share of trophy bulls, and the Coconino National Forest has some of the best. Although it's not the easiest place to hunt, no motor vehicles are allowed, you won't mind once you set your eyes on some of the massive racks that come out of these woods. Yes, the lottery is a pain in the butt to wait for, but you won't regret it once you see the size of these elk.

5. Ashley National Forest, Utah

Between the Flaming Gorge and the Unita Mountains, the variety of wildlife you encounter in Utah's Ashley National Forest will astound you. And with a herd of over 68,000, Utah is the place to be kill an elk. It's home to some of the best older bulls in the county and in 2008, a world record rack was taken from its public hunting grounds.

6. Craig, Colorado

One of the best things about hunting in Craig, Colorado is that only seven miles from town, there's a million acres of public hunting grounds, filled with elk. Let me say it again: one million acres. Not only is there ample hunting ground, but the area holds two of the largest known elk herds in North America. There's not much more you could ask for than that.

7. Gallatin National Forest, Montana

With over several million acres of prime elk hunting, Montana provides excellent hunting for both the novice and experienced. And with nearly 50 percent of the state's elk harvest coming from the southwest, Gallation National Forest is the place to be. With its Block Management Program, you can have access to some of the best public and private hunting lands in the state. But you best be in shape; Montana's landscape isn't for the faint of heart, or the weak-legged.

8. Siuslaw National Forest, Oregon

Hunting Roosevelt elk is an experience all of its own, and there's no better place to do it than the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon. Not only were 17 of the top 25 Boone and Crockett bulls harvested from this woods, but with over 8,000 elk harvested from public lands each year, you're chances of a kill are greatly increased.

9. St. Joe's National Forest, Idaho

If you like to hunt in the vast wildness, then St. Joe's National Forest in Idaho's panhandle is perfect. These woods give you a hunt you won't forget, but you best be prepared to do your part. Due to the rapidly growing wolf population, elk numbers in northern Idaho are starting to fall. But that doesn't mean it's a bad experience. If you know what you're doing and you're looking for a challenge, you've met your match with St. Joe's.

10. Elk County, Pennsylvania

You may not get the giant trophy bulls you find out west, but Elk County, Pennsylvania, can easily be considered one of the best places to elk hunt east of the Mississippi. Nestled deep in the middle of the Allegheny Mountains, Elk County provides you with the opportunity to find huge herds sometimes so abundant you have to drive through them. But you better plan your trip well in advance. Pennsylvania's elk hunting runs on a lottery system, and there's only a limited supply of licenses available.

These picturesque spots across the country would make great vacations, which is a great excuse to get away. An extra bonus would be to bring back a trophy elk.

Happy elk hunting!

Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

The Top 10 Places to Kill an Elk in the U.S.