Elk Bugling

The sounds of elks bugling overlap and reverberate against the rock outcroppings and hills. The experience will astound you. You will be reminded that you are standing on sacred ground — where the first peoples of America stood and the same echoes of nature filled the autumn, night air.









Elk Bugling

During the September-October mating season, bull elk stage their own passion play. The characteristic rutting call of bulls can be heard from just before dusk to dawn. Head into Rocky Mountain National Park and stop at Horseshoe Park. There in the early evening, you will find local volunteer guides called the Bugle Corp on hand  to provide insight and information.

In the last few years, some elk have moved into town and onto the golf course for their rut. The typical bugle of the bull elk is a surprising, distinctive sound that begins deep and resonant, and becomes a high pitched squeal before ending in a succession of grunts. As you stand in Horseshoe Park, Moraine Park or Upper Beaver Meadows you may hear one or more bulls bugling and you'll notice the variations.

Herding Behavior

You may be fortunate enough to see a bull elk rounding up his "harem" in one of the National Park's montane meadows, or in town on our golf courses and lawns. Bulls have various levels of experience in herding. Some are "studs" and others are wannabes. The stud is the bull that is clearly in command. There may be other competitors nearby, but they can't compete with the mature bull's display of antlers and his bellowing bugle. This swashbuckler gathers and cloisters his cows with apparent ease. Often other bulls stand on the sidelines, watching with obvious frustration. Even those who have managed to corner a cow or two watch helplessly as their prospects evade them and run toward a growing assembly of cows, yearlings and calves which have gathered near another bull. You may also notice a bull with broken antlers or half a rack — the result of competitive battles between bulls.


1 Found

Leave the fast lane, cross our covered bridge to simple serenity in a cozy cottage, suite or vacation home in towering pines along Fall River. Bask in hot tub bubbles. Warm to the scent and sizzle of a wood-burning fireplace. Fall asleep to the river's lullaby. Roam 30 acres adjoining Rocky Mountain National Park. Enjoy the serendipity of wandering wildlife and friendly gatherings in our library.  Castle Mountain Lodge on Fall River Details

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1520 Fall River Road
Estes Park
40.383069 -105.550332

Wildlife Watching Etiquette

Elk gather in the open meadows and are easily visible when left undisturbed. During the elk rut, please do not venture into the park's meadows between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m. and stay on roadways and designated trails. Look for postings alerting you to areas that have been closed. You can easily sight and watch them from the roadsides.









Please remember that wildlife are the natives in this area and that we are the visitors! Wildlife are very keen on "personal space." In other words, they're happier if you keep your distance. (When you ride a bus or subway, how do you feel about strangers crowding into your space?) Bring your binoculars or telephoto lens to get a close up view of these majestic creatures. If your presence causes the elk to move away, then you are too close. Within the park, you may be cited for harassment of wildlife if your actions affect the behavior of an animal in any way.


As soon as you park, turn off your car lights and engine. Shut car doors quietly and speak softly. Don't use headlights or flashlights to illuminate or entice wildlife.


Enjoy your not-too-close encounter with our native elk!