How to Celebrate 'Elktober' in Colorado This Fall

Pack your bags... it's time to go to Colorado and spot some elk.

When fall rolls around, grab a pumpkin spice latte, throw on an oversized scarf, and head 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 town puts on a two-day festival filled with wildlife education, music, and entertainment.

The lineup is filled with a live raptor presentation, a bugling contest, elk-inspired arts and crafts, a craft beer garden, and an assembly of food trucks serving delicious fare. Years past have included historical Native American music, storytelling, and dance presentations by nationally recognized Mescalero Apache flute player, Danny Many Horses.

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

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 — which starts with a four-hour safari before parking near a Rocky Mountain National Park meadow to watch elk — 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, according to the website, "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 an Airbnb-certified 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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