There are many amazing tourist attractions around the world, and I would consider The Big Elk (“Storelgen” in Norwegian) to be on the crazy side.
This giant moose statue is 10.3 meters high, and covered with polished stainless steel. It makes for a cool sight, but it’s in the middle of nowhere in Atna in Østerdalen.
Some people think that The Big Elk is a cool statue, others think that it’s a big tourist trap, and many even find it to be a huge waste of public funding.
But what’s The Big Elk like, and should you visit it? Let’s find out all there is to The Big Elk!
Should you visit The Big Elk?
I would not recommend to put The Big Elk high up on your travel plans if you are coming to Norway. The statue is actually very cool, but it’s in the middle of nowhere in Østerdalen.
You should really stop for a rest break to get some photos of the giant moose statue if you are driving past The Big Elk, but you should not plan your vacation around being able to see this statue with your own eyes.
While the statue itself is pretty cool, there’s nothing to do at is besides looking at it, and it’s generally not worth a multiple hour drive to see it.
The statue is found at a rest stop / picnic area with some benches to sit at, and a few short forest trails where you can stretch your legs. There’s also a public restroom that anyone can use.
It’s a common place to stop for 30 minutes to stretch your legs after a long drive, but there are no shops or anything like that close to it.
The reason The Big Elk was erected
It might not make much sense why there’s a huge moose statue in the middle of nowhere in Østerdalen, but that’s kind of the point.
The roads in the Østerdalen valley can be extremely monotonous with a spruce and pine forest along the road for hours and hours. This looks beautiful for a while, but can get boring after a long drive.
The road (Rv3) is one of the most dangerous roads to drive in Norway, with a high risk of collisions due to drivers getting sleepy and unfocused.
Rv3 has been dubbed “Death Road 3” instead of “National Road 3”, and has had an average of 6 death and 9 critical injuries per year.
Collisions on this road are both frontal collisions with oncoming cars, collisions with sleepy drivers driving out of the road, as well as collisions with wildlife such as elks. The area has one of the highest elk / moose density in all of Norway. This makes it perfect for a moose safari, but also very dangerous for drivers.
So The Big Elk statue was made to combat driving fatigue. It’s at a point where it’s great for most drivers to get some rest, and the break in the monotonous surroundings gives drivers a bit of awareness.
It’s currently not known if the statue has reduced the number of collisions on Rv3, but at least that’s the intention.
How to get to The Big Elk
The Big Elk is located close to the small town Atna in Østerdalen along Rv3 (Riksveg 3 / National Road 3).
It’s designed to be pretty much the halfway point between Oslo and Trondheim, and it’s roughly 3 hours away from both these cities.
It’s very easy to spot The Big Elk, so you can pretty much just drive along Rv3, and you will find it. The huge statue can be seen from a long distance away, so you have plenty of time to slow down and turn in to the parking lot.
The city closes to The Big Elk is Koppang.
The history of The Big Elk
The Big Elk was designed by Linda Bakke, and constructed in 2015. The statue itself cost 2 million Norwegian kroner, and the entire sum was donated by the local bank.
At the same time of erecting the statue, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration also upgraded the rest stop / picnic area for an addition 27 million Norwegian kroner, making it a nice place to stop when driving trough Østerdalen.
The competition for the world’s highest moose statue
At the time of erection, the statue was considered to be the biggest moose/elk statue in the world with it’s height of 10.3 meters.
This started a feud with the previous record holder, “Mac the Moose” in Moose Jaw in Canada. This statue has been the world’s tallest moose statue for over 30 years, but The Big Elk was made 30 centimeters taller.
Canadian comedians started a GoFundMe page to make Mac The Moose taller. This allowed them to make the statue bigger by replacing his antlers with bigger antlers, so Mac the Moose is back at being the tallest moose statue in the world.
Mac the Moose is now 10.36 meters tall, making him 6 centimeters taller than The Big Elk.
It seems likely that Mac the Moose will keep the lead, since it would be very difficult to somehow make The Big Elk any bigger than it already is.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.