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Photo Credit: James Frank Photography

Fall in Estes Park: Festivals, Fall Colors, and Elk

Fall in Estes Park is known for Elk herds wandering through town, trees in vibrant Fall Colors, and Festivals  – it’s one of the favorite times of year to visit this Rocky Mountain town.

Estes Park Fall Festivals

First up on the fall calendar is the Longs Peak Scottish- Irish Highland Festival, Sept 9-11.  Estes Park is the Celtic Capital of North America.  Every year for over 40 years Clans converge for a weekend packed with celtic music, athletic competitions, dance, a parade of clans, dogs, pipes & drums – everything Celtic!

Try the Ninja Warrior Course, & watch Scottish Capall – horse dirt boarding!  This is the largest Celtic Festival in the US.  It takes place at the Estes Park Events Center.  Tickets and Packages can be purchased online.  

Autumn Gold Festival of Bands, Brats, and Beer celebrates its 28th Anniversary in 2022.     Admission is Free Saturday Sept 24 and Sunday Sept 25 from 11a – 6p in Bond Park in Downtown Estes Park,   Featuring  talented Colorado musicians , a Classic Car Show, food vendors,  and kids activities.

The Estes Park Sunrise Rotary Club sponsors the event as a fund-raiser  for local scholarships and offers a big-ticket raffle prize of $10,000.

Finally the free Estes Park Elk Fest “Elktober” is Oct 1 & 2 celebrates the elk rut,  Native American Heritage and all things elk!  There’s fun for all ages with educational areas, kids games, story telling & music, a bugling contest, and food vendors.

Fall Colors – Gold in the Mountains

When do the fall colors start showing up in the mountains?

Every year can be a little different because the timing of fall color change depends on weather and elevation.  Daylight and elevation determine the timing as colors start at higher elevations and work their way down.  Rain, snow, cold, and wind affect the intensity of color and how long the color lasts.  Aspens start turning in late August at higher elevations.  The peak of gold fall color is usually late September.

Where to see fall colors?

A great scenic drive to experience autumn gold and big views is to take the Peak to Peak Scenic Byway to or from Estes Park.  Family groves of aspen trees are mixed into evergreen forests making for spectacular color contrasts.  If you can time it so that sunshine filters through the aspen leaves, you’ll be surrounded by golden light!

Inside Rocky Mountain National Park, the drive up Bear Lake Road winds past beautiful stands of golden aspens,  with views of Continental Divide peaks in the background.  The ridge below Bierstadt Lake bursts into fall color.   Beaver Meadows is another great spot to see fall color – color bursts all over the Park!

Fall Elk Rut – Amazing Wildlife Watching

Bugling elk calls –the fall elk rut has amazing sights and sounds and is one of nature’s wonders.  Big male elk with majestic antlers compete to mate with groups of female elk, sparring, herding the females.

Estes Park is known for elk herds wandering through town and lounging on the golf course grass.  You’re likely to see elk right outside your hotel room grazing on your lodging grounds.

In Rocky Mountain National Park after the elk have come down from their summer high pastures, herds are easily viewed in the lower meadows from the roadside.  Best Places for Wildlife Watching.

Want to Learn more about elk?  Visit our post on Everything Elk – from bugling, herding behavior, baby elk, to elk watching etiquette.

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