If you live in Coos Bay or North Bend, you likely have seen it at least once if not many times.
Personally, I drove by a half dozen times, staring out my window each time, but usually because I was in a hurry I never stopped.
That changed last week when I took my daughter to see a dentist in Springfield. This time, we had a little extra time so we pulled off the road at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area, and boy was it worth it.
I believe I have seen elk out at Dean Creek almost every time I’ve driven by, but seeing something zooming past your window at 55 miles an hour is far different than seeing it in real time, with no rush.
When Emma and I were heading to the dentist, we saw a large group of elk close to the road at the far end of the viewing area, but since we had an appointment to reach, we drove by. Although Emma did have to call mom to tell her she saw elk.
On the way home, we pulled over and got out. The elk were still there in two groups, one near where we first saw them earlier although further from the road, and the second group was near the main viewing station set up just to see elk and other wildlife.
Seeing elk is a cool experience, whether at Dean Creek or elsewhere. But the setup at the viewing area just outside of Reedsport makes this pretty cool.
The landscape in the area reminded me a lot of Colorado or Northern Arizona as the pine-covered mountains opened into a valley full of grass, flowers and life.
It is natural for the elk and other animals to graze and find respite in the valley, especially at Dean Creek, where wetlands and meandering streams add to the features.
We didn’t get a close-up look at the elk, but it didn’t matter.
We got to spend a little bit of time out of the car, we got to feel the crisp air blowing, we got to see ducks swimming in the creek and other birds flying through and we got to learn a lot about elk and the other animals thanks to clear signs at the viewing area.
Another bonus, the elk viewing area has the only public restrooms for quite a while if you’re heading toward Portland.
It was a pretty cool experience, and since all of us will drive by at one time or another, I would suggest adding a little time in your trip so you can stop
The elk are almost always in the area, although exactly where is unknown. I would suggest keeping a look out and pulling over when you see them. The actual viewing area is clean and informative, and it even has binoculars if the elk are nearby.
It’s a great stop and a fun, easy way to break up the longer road trips to places like Eugene, Salem or Portland.
To get there, follow Highway 101 to Reedsport. In Reedsport, turn right and go through downtown on Highway 38.
A few minutes are you leave town, the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area will appear on your right. There are signs and plenty of parking options available.