While Estes Park continues to rebound and rebuild, the community is coming together to celebrate a favorite time of year – autumn. The fall foliage and elk rut, or mating season, are in full swing just in time for the annual Elk Fest, the celebration of all that makes Estes Park a unique mountain experience this time of year.
While some roads leading to Estes Park are under construction, guests are directed to take a breathtaking route along the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway – one of the most popular fall foliage drives in the state. The route stretches from Golden or Interstate 70 through Black Hawk and Nederland to Estes Park (complete directions and Google map below). Access to Estes Park is also available from the west on Trail Ridge Road, US Highway 36, through Rocky Mountain National Park, weather permitting. Travelers will take in views of the mountain slopes twinkling with the golden aspen leaves along the way.
Residents and guests of the Estes Valley have been marveling at the elk rut for centuries and the village of Estes Park celebrates this history each year at the annual Elk Fest. This year, the celebration will also be one of community strength and resilience as neighbors help neighbors to brush off and rebuild following the dramatic flood of 2013. The flood had put the 2013 Elk Fest in question, but ultimately this ‘Mountain Strong’ village decided to pull together to make it happen.
“While our mountain village continues to recover and rebuild, the community is rallying and ready for a celebration,” said Frank Lancaster, Town Administrator for the Town of Estes Park. “We look forward to the opportunity to welcome guests back during this beautiful time of year.”
The elk rut is at its peak from mid-September through mid-October, corresponding nicely with the fall foliage peak weeks. The two activities are perfectly set among the snowcapped vistas of Rocky Mountain National Park, just west of Estes Park. Guests will experience the call of the wild as the bull elk bugle echoes through the valleys. The action picks up with the locking of horns – bulls battling each other to prove dominant status and win mating rights. All of this display with the goal to build a harem, the coveted prize for the strongest of the bulls. Elk spotters are encouraged to share the locations of the elk on Twitter, Facebook and Instragram, using the hash tag #EstesElkWatch to alert others of where they can be spotted.
The multi-sensory experience of fall in Estes Park provides educational, yet emotional, encounters with the regal elk alongside breathtaking views of twinkling gold aspen leaves skirting the majestic peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park. Sights, sounds and views one won’t soon forget.
Estes Park Visitor Center
500 Big Thompson Avenue
Estes Park, Colorado 80517