As fall starts to get underway in Colorado, elk are on the move and much more likely to be seen in some parts of the state.
Estes Park, near Rocky Mountain National Park, is one of the best places to see elk this fall. Visitors are often able to spot hundreds of wild and free-roaming elk in the town.
The elk are most active in the fall during cooler weather when herds migrate to lower elevations to mate, often moving by the hundreds into the town limits. This generally happens from mid-September to mid-October.
The herds can frequently be found near sources of grass and water. Two very common spots are on the golf courses and in parks around town. Estes Park elk can also be often spotted roaming the streets and sidewalks.
Nearby Rocky Mountain National Park is another great place to spot this species, home to one of the most impressive elk herds in the state with numbers between 600 and 800.
Herds of elk can often be spotted grazing in the high alpine meadows along Trail Ridge Road. The 48-mile road stretches from Grand Lake to Estes Park, climbing to heights of over 12,000 feet in elevation.
A few other places where elk can commonly be seen around the state include Telluride, Vail, Evergreen, and Aspen.
During the rut, male “bull” elk are known to behave aggressively and can be extremely dangerous to visitors who come too close. While it's not common, elk attacks on visitors have occurred in the past. View these wild animals from a safe distance and never approach or try to feed them.
Motorists are also urged to slow down and use extra caution when traveling through highly populated wildlife areas, especially during the early morning and late evening hours.
If you come across something like this on the road, STOP 🛑 Try to let them cross at their own speed. Often people try to go through them and then you have elk on both sides of the road trying to cross back to get the herd together. That creates a more chaotic situation. https://t.co/UE9jR1uvfr— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) September 15, 2020
Elk rut is a must-see natural phenomenon during the Colorado fall. Follow these simple tips and you’re nearly guaranteed to catch a glimpse of this spectacular animal.
Editor's Note: Before you head out, make sure you always check the weather. Weather in the mountains is unpredictable, so be prepared for unexpected rain, wind, and cold. Dress in warm layers and bring rain gear along with you. Pack a map, plenty of food and water, first aid, and a headlamp. Recreate responsibly by staying on designated trails and packing out all your trash. Stay safe, be smart, be safe, and leave no trace!