City Cast

It's Elk Rut Season in the Rocky Mountains

Peyton Garcia
Peyton Garcia
Posted on September 5
A herd of elk bulls graze in Rocky Mountain National Park

A herd of elk bulls graze in Rocky Mountain National Park. (noekerryan / Getty Images)

On Sept. 1, Rocky Mountain National Park officials instituted the annual closure of certain wilderness areas within the park as elk rut begins. These majestic mountain animals will start to descend from higher elevations to post up around the trails, rivers, and golf courses of nearby mountain towns. It’s a popular reason for making the quick drive up to RMNP for elk-spotting, but it’s really important to do so respectfully and responsibly, while giving the animals their space. Here are a few things you should know:

What is ‘Elk Rut’?

It’s elk-mating season! It typically starts mid-September and lasts through mid-October.

It’s a Great Opportunity for Elk-Spotting

If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of these animals up-close, it won’t be hard. Most famously, they tend to hang around Estes Park this time of year — often right in the middle of town! (Estes even hosts an annual Elk Festival near the end of September.)

But They Need Space

Elk rut is a super cool thing to witness, especially when you get to hear the bull elk bugle. But it’s critical to remember that the bull elk are super territorial this time of year, and you should NEVER try to approach the herd (now or ever!). Also, make sure your dog is on a leash — Fido does not want to get between two bull elk defending their herds. And just a reminder: elk calling in the park is prohibited.

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