Feel like getting back to nature, but you’re too lazy to get out of your car? Then take your kids to see wild elk, bison and deer without ever leaving your climate controlled vehicle at Lone Elk Park.
Lone Elk is a St. Louis County Park, which means it’s totally free of charge. There is a donation box if you feel the urge to help the county feed the animals, but that’s up to you.
The park is in Valley Park, around the intersection of Hwy 44 and Hwy 141, on the outer road. Nearby are the World Bird Sanctuary (also free) and access to the Chubb Trail. Valley Park has another great freebie for little kids, the Whittle Shortline Rail Road.
We love Lone Elk because it’s a great park to visit anytime of the year. Snow or St. Louis humidity is no excuse to go on a little wild life expedition. You don’t need to leave your car to find the animals—in fact they ask that you NOT get out of your car in the bison’s zone. The twisty road meanders through the park, up and down hills, around lakes and through beautiful woods. It’s like taking your car on a hike through the forest.
Each visit to Lone Elk is different because the animals are allowed to roam free. Kids can get a kick out of searching for the animals as you wander the road. Be sure to check the parking lots too–we’ve seen elk hanging out right next to them.
The park has an interesting history. Back in the 1940’s the land belonged to an ammunition plant and it was use to store and test the ammunition during World War II. The tower at the entrance was a shooting platform and you’ll see the remains of bunkers and firing ranges scattered around the park.
The county bought the park in the 60’s. The first elk came from Yellowstone and the first bisons came from the St. Louis Zoo.