The region around Elk was home to some of the first non-native settlers along the Mendocino coast, and it's easy to see why as the town is perched above a spectacular rocky cove opening out to the Pacific Ocean.
In the early 1850s, the first loggers traveling through the area were surprised to find a couple of intrepid souls (a Portuguese and black man) already settled and farming here. Soon trappers and hunters moved into the region to supply the various mills and logging camps with venison, elk, and bear. Ranches, farms, and small mills were established nearby. Then, in 1883, a local entreprenuer, Lorenzo White, purchased most of the land around Elk, established a large mill, built a railroad to support it, and fueled a growth spurt that drove the population to its peak of one thousand. Around the turn of the century this town was alive with hotels, saloons, dance halls, and general stores along with a barber, butcher, blacksmith, jeweler, candy store, creamery, and livery stable. Jack London liked to visit during the early 1900s, and enjoyed writing in a favorite upstairs hotel room overlooking the ocean.
Today, Elk is an intimate and charming town. The Coast Highway, which runs through the center of town, is lined with fine shops, inns, and restaurants. Greenwood State Beach has short hiking trails leading to tide pools and grand vistas, and its Visitor Center features a small museum of local history. For natural beauty, and respite from the hectic modern pace, it's hard to beat Elk.