Experience the Elk Rut in Rocky Mountain NP

Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park

Amazing wildlife. Fall color. Great opportunity to photograph the elk.

Fall in Rocky Mountain National Park brings one of the most spectacular natural occurrences, the Elk mating season, or Elk Rut. During this time male elk “battle” for the chance to mate with females. It is a spectacular sight as males bugle, run, grunt, and potentially lock antlers to “impress” the female elk. It is a great time to experience Rocky Mountain National Park and a great opportunity to take photographs of these large mammals.

There are several great places to watch the Elk in Rocky Mountain National Park, but one of the best is Moraine Park. From Estes Park, drive west on HWY 34 for about 3 miles. Enter the park at the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station on HWY 34 and take the first left turn. After about 2 miles you will arrive at Moraine Park.

The fall brings amazing color to the Rocky Mountains as well as the sights and sounds associated with the Elk Rut. The Rut usually starts in mid-September and lasts until mid-October, but it can vary year to year. Because this is such a popular time of year you can expect a lot of other people to be at the park. Obey all laws and rule in Rocky Mountain National park including parking only in designated areas, and staying out of closed areas. In addition the elk are wild animals and can be extremely dangerous during the rut. Do not approach, harass, or feed the elk or other wildlife as it can be a hazard to you or the elk.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Camera gear
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Activities Photography
Skill Level Beginner
Season Autumn
Features
Wildlife

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Be in the right place at the right time and you'll be blown away.

Be aware of where you are

The elk rut is absolutely incredible to watch, and RMNP has many signs set up letting visitors know where the best viewpoints are. If you come to RMNP in the fall, you're basically guaranteed to see a few dozen elk (you might even find some in Estes Park!). While you're watching these beautiful animals, though, be aware of your surroundings and don't get too close. When hiking, pay attention to signs at the trailhead as some trails are closed from dusk till dawn to protect animals and visitors alike.

Great sight to see!

We camped at Moraine Campground during the fall, and there was so much elk roaming around! It was quite a view, especially with the mountains as a backdrop. Great photo-op. Definitely a must see if you are at RMNP during the fall.


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