Flat Creek Inn

Tag: elk

What’s the Difference Between an Elk, a Reindeer, and a Caribou?

Elk, Reindeer, and Caribou are three animals that are similar and can easily be confused. We wanted to clear the air and get some facts straight on these animals so you never have to wonder which one is which ever again!



Here at the Flat Creek Inn we have a special love for elk because we have a whole herd of them RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET! It’s pretty amazing to have these animals as our neighbors. Check out our live web cam showing the elk right here.

Elk have light colored fur and are considerably larger than caribou. They have massive antlers that they shed every spring, and they grow back each summer. These antlers can reach up to 4 feet in length. Downtown Jackson Hole has four beautiful arches made from elk antlers.

The antler arch

These animals can make a very interesting bugle sound. It actually sounds like a bugle. You can hear what it sounds like by clicking here. Males (bulls) can also have big battles with each other during mating season. You can see an elk fight in action here.

Elk are found mostly in Yellowstone National Park and at the National Elk Refuge (that’s right across the street from us).

(Much of this information came from National Geographic.)


Photo via https://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/reindeer

So here’s the deal, reindeer and caribou are one and the same. Often they are called “reindeer” if they are domesticated, or “caribou” if they are more wild. Also, they are usually called “reindeer” if they come from Europe and Asia, and “caribou” if they originate from North America. Either way, they are the same animal, so call them what you will. 🙂

Reindeer were first associated with Christmas after a Christmas booklet was published in 1821. An anonymous author mentioned that reindeer drove Santa to his destinations. Two years later in 1823, the famous Christmas poem titled ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas was published and that’s where the idea of eight flying reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh came from. Reindeer have been a main part of Christmas ever since!

Photo via https://www.flatcreekinn.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/santa_reindeer.jpg

And in case you didn’t know, Robert L. May was the one who came up with the idea of Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer. He had two other names picked out first, but he landed on the name Rudolph. If you want to know what the other two names were, click here to find out!


Photo via https://assets.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/styles/full_content–retina/public/media-uploads/actionfigure_tylerrudolph_fcfk7a_ds_2400.jpg?itok=O6_iC7eD

Caribou are much smaller than elk. The population of caribou is also decreasing, whereas the elk population is doing well and increasing.

Within the caribou herd, both males and females have antlers. They also have really cool hooves that allow them to be able to dig in the snow and paddle through water.

Caribou are known for making massive migrations, sometimes over hundreds of miles. Here’s an informative video about caribou.

(Much of this information was gathered from National Geographic.)


We hope this helped you differentiate better between elk, caribou, and reindeer.

Come stay at the Flat Creek Inn and check out the amazing National Elk Refuge right across the street.

See you soon!

Elk Refuge

21 Awesome Antler Gifts 2020

Many animals are well known for shedding their antlers including elk, deer, and moose (moosen?). There are some really creative folks out there who have come up with some pretty cool uses for these antlers that have been shed. We’ve scoured the internet and found some of the coolest gifts made out of antlers (or are antler themed). Our personal favorite? The antler toilet paper holder (#9 below). You know you need one of those in your house asap! Feel free to check out all 21 antler gifts below!

The mighty elk.

1. Antler wall hook

2. “Home is where you hang your antlers” sign

3. Dainty antler pendant necklace

4. Woodland faux deer antler ornament

5. Antler desk fan

6. Antler coat rack

7. Antler chandelier

8. Deer antler knife

9. Antler toilet paper holder 

10. Antler toothbrush holder

11. Elk antler earrings

12. Custom deer head sign

13. Elk antler pendant chain necklace

14. Elk antler dog chews 

15. Antler sweatshirt

16. Antler party favors/cake toppers

17. Elk antler ring

18. Antler bed comforter

19. Moose antler fruit bowl

20. Matching antler wedding rings

21. Antler headbands

Elk antler arches in Jackson, Wyoming


If you enjoyed this article, we know you will enjoy coming to Jackson Hole and seeing the antler arch at town square! While you’re here, feel free to come stay at the Flat Creek Inn. We would love to have you!

Elking It Up in Jackson Hole


The National Elk Refuge

This is a protected place in Jackson Hole where the local Elk can migrate and survive during the winter months.


See the Elk Refuge LIVE Right Now on Our World Famous Webcam:

Location of the Elk Refuge

675 E Broadway Ave

Jackson, Wyoming

(Right across from the Flat Creek Inn!)

The Best Time of Year to See the Elk

Winter time. The Elk are elsewhere during the other parts of the year, and then in the late fall they start migrating to the Jackson Elk Refuge location and they stay till early spring.


The Cost

It’s free to drive or walk along the Refuge Road. You can also see the Elk by going on a sleigh ride through the refuge. These Winter sleigh rides last about 1 hour and are available for purchase here.


The Flat Creek Inn has a Stay and Sleigh Special offered every winter. Stay at the Flat Creek Inn and get a special deal on a sleigh ride through the Elk Refuge! Stay tuned to the Flat Creek Facebook page to be the first to know when that special becomes available! This is a magical opportunity you won’t want to miss this winter! (It would make a great Christmas gift…hint, hint!)

Sleigh Ride! Bundle up – it’s cold!

How Many Elk You Can Expect to See

Anywhere from 5,000-7,000.

Cool Facts About Elk

-Elk have about a 15-20 year lifespan.

-They are mostly found in North America and Asia.

-They eat vegetation.

-Elk meat can be eaten (although it’s not highly produced), and it has more protein in it than chicken, beef, or pork.

-Females typically have 1, sometimes 2 babies during their lifespan.

-Gestation for elk babies is about 8 and 1/2 months.

-Elk are also sometimes referred to as Wapiti, which is a Native American word for “white rump.”


Other Animals on the Elk Refuge

If you’re lucky, you might also see Bald Eagles, Bighorn Sheep, Wolves, Swans, and Bison.


Elk Antler Arches in downtown Jackson

Let’s Talk About Antlers

The elk shed about 6,000-9,000 pounds each year on the Elk Refuge. In the spring, the National Elk Refuge staff and the Jackson Boy Scouts collect the antlers and sell them at the ElkFest. ElkFest is always held the weekend before Memorial Day in May. It is illegal (poaching!) to go grab antlers on your own – you must purchase them. And in case you didn’t know, the famous arches in downtown Jackson are, of course, made from Elk antlers!


Here’s a YouTube video of Boy Scouts collecting antlers:


The Flat Creek Inn is the perfect place to stay while you check out the Elk Refuge this winter!

Remember to “follow” our Facebook Page so you will be the first to know when our Stay and Sleigh Special becomes available!!


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