After the fall rut ends and hunting season begins, a herd of about 200 Roosevelt elk settles into the safety of Jewell Meadows.
The 2,940-acre state wildlife area has been offering them a winter home since 1969. Elk are provided a supplementary diet by the state fish and wildlife service, so it gives them incentive to stick around until things green up in the spring. The area is off limits to hunters, so the elk are safe from human intrusion.
The herd can usually be seen from a designated viewpoint, or from inside your car when parked along Oregon 202, a backcountry road that connects U.S. 26 to Astoria.
To ride along on a wagon that offers feed to the elk, call 503-755-2264 beginning Dec. 1. Reservations are required, but they go fast. The free, one-hour tours leave at 9 a.m. through February.
To reach Jewell Meadows from Portland, drive west on U.S. 26 to the Jewell Junction. Just west of the Elderberry Inn, go north on County 103 for nine miles along the Nehalem River to the community of Jewell (no services). Go another 1.5 miles west on Oregon 202 to the well-signed refuge area and viewpoints along Fishhawk Creek.
Bring along your fishing gear..