Fall Means 'Elktober' in Colorado — Here's How to Celebrate and Spot Some Majestic Animals

Pack your bags... it's time to go to Colorado.

When fall rolls around, grab a pumpkin spice latte, throw on an oversized scarf, and head down to Estes Park in Colorado to celebrate the start of "Elktober."

No, it's not a spelling error. Elktober celebrates the annual elk rut (aka mating season), which typically peaks over the first few weeks of October. To honor this natural event, the park puts on a two-day festival filled with wildlife education, music, and entertainment.

"The festival, a favorite of locals and tourists alike, started in 1999 as a way to celebrate the famous and spectacular elk rut (mating season) in Estes Park," reps for the park explain on its website. "This year, as always, there will be arts and crafts vendors, food trucks serving everything from Asian fusion delicacies to corn dogs and funnel cakes, live raptors with the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, educational presentations with wildlife experts from Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Wallowing Hole beer tent, axe throwing, and a fun-for-the-whole-family bugling contest."

elk standing on mountain against sky in Estes Park, Colorado
noekerryan/Getty Images

Additionally, Danny Many Horses, a nationally recognized Mescalero Apache flute player, will make his return to present Native American storytelling, music, and dancing to the masses.

Can't make it to the actual festival dates? That's OK, there are still plenty of ways to experience the rut, including guided tours from companies like Yellow Wood Guiding. On the tour, guests learn about the animal's behavior, history, and survival strategies via a local expert guide. Visitors will spend time listening for the bugling of bull elk, and "by the end of Elk Rut Safari you will be able to predict exactly when an elk will bugle, tell if a cow elk is interested in a bull or just playing coy, and know where to look to find the next potential fight between two bulls."

And, if you're looking to fully immerse yourself in the wildlife experience, you could book a stay in one of the area's many stunning cabin rentals. Try booking at a super host property like this four-bedroom log cabin, this secluded cabin for two, or this gorgeous modern guest suite with views that seem to go on forever.

The other way to see the elk? Just head into town and sit and wait. The animals have been known to frequent the downtown streets like their human tourist friends. But, like all wildlife, if you see them in town, in the park, or anywhere in between, make sure to give them space.

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