(CBS4) – The elk rut and bugling season is in full swing across Colorado. It typically lasts from mid-September until mid-October.
One of the most well-know spots to see the rut and hearing the bulging is in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. Between 200 to 600 elk wander down from the higher elevations for the mating season.
On the Grand County side of the park, the scenic Kawuneeche Valley is also a beautiful spot for wildlife viewing. The elk also adore it for the rut season.
The website for Rocky Mountain National Park shares research from Dr. Jennifer Clarke from the University of Northern Colorado about the bugles. She suggests they contain a lot of information, from communicating that a bull is in the area with his harem to telling cows they are straying too far.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife points to the Clear Creek herd which roams in the Rocky Flats and Golden area as another place to see and hear the rut. It’s possible two bull elk from that herd recently made their way into Westminster following the Big Dry Creek. Wildlife officers captured and released them in the mountains.
The West Elk Wilderness near Gunnison is also a prime location to hear the elk bugle. You’ll find 200 miles of trails to enjoy as well.
South of Divide and west of Colorado Springs, you’ll find Mueller State Park. You can watch the rut on your own or check to see if any programs are scheduled for a more enhanced experience.
It is important to remember to give the animals plenty of space. If elk are blocking your trail, go a different way or turn around and head back.
Colorado has the largest elk population in the world with more than 280,000 animals. In the early 1900s, there were only about 40,000 in all of North America. The largest elk herds are west of the Continental Divide.