170 MacGregor Ave, Estes Park, CO 80517, USA
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Elk Fest - Wildlife Festival for the Entire FamilyIf you're in Colorado the last weekend in September, it’s worth visiting Estes Park, a cool little summer resort town just outside Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP). Not only is the fall foliage on full display, the elk are too ... and they’re in heat!
To celebrate this annual happening (which usually starts in mid-Sept and lasts about a month), Estes Park throws a 2-day Elk Festival, complete with street vendors (many selling elk related items), a bugling competition (bugling is what the male elks do to attract the females), educational seminars, and Native American dancing.
Although the festival is a lot of fun, the main event is watching the elk in action. You can take a shuttle bus directly from Elk Fest to where the bull elks are hanging out with their harems of up to 100+ females (wow)! Quite often, they can be found on the golf course or somewhere else right in town. The better option is to head straight into the RMNP and watch the show right from the side of the road. Some people, including us, pack for a tailgate with food & wine – perfect for the 6PM Elk Echoes ranger program.
Even though my wife and I flew all the way there from New York without the kids for our 20 year anniversary (no, we didn’t go just to spice things up), this is very much meant to be a family affair. It’s rare to actually see the elk mating, so no worries there. You will, however, have to explain what being in heat means ... and why the males make such a big deal over the females.