In case you haven’t heard, elk in Estes Park are just as common to see as tourists walking the streets. Sure, they are fun to watch grazing in town or bugling in the open meadow of Rocky Mountain National Park but what do you really know about the elk that call Colorado home? Here are a few interesting facts about the elk in Estes Park.
The antlers of an elk, which are only found on a bull elk, are one of their most distinctive characteristics. But they are also one of the more fascinating ones as well. Their antlers are made of fast-growing bone that can grow as much as one inch in a day! The size of an elk’s antlers depends on how much sunlight they are exposed to. Biologists that the Rocky Mountain West elk have the largest antlers of all the subspecies.
Sounds of an elk
You might actually hear the elk before you see them! Visitors to Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park can hear the bull elks bugling, typically in the lower valleys of the area. But how do these bull elk make that unusual sound? Their bugle can reach pitches that are far too high to be made by just the elk’s voice box. Pay close attention and you will see he is moving both his lips and his nostrils. Remarkably, the bull elk is whistling and roaring at the same time.
It’s all in the feet
While bugling is the best form of communication for the elk, it’s not the only way elk speak with one another. It has been found that the elks’ ankle bones make a distinct cracking noise when they walk and is believed to be another way to tell other elk they are approaching from behind.
Smell your best
While it might seem a bit unorthodox, but a bull elk’s mating process consists of wallowing in a mud bath to coat themselves with urine “perfume.” This is all in an attempt to lure and attract his mate.
Faster than light
As one of the largest deer species on earth, the North American elk can weigh up to almost 700 pounds. Despite their large stature, a mature bull elk can run up to 40 miles per hour! Now that’s impressive!
Count to 10
Did you know elk can count? Well at least to 10. Researches have tested that when a female elk is given a choice between a male elk with 10 points and one with less than 10, the female will pick the make elk with 10 points.
Preparation for the breeding season
In preparation for the breeding season in the fall, bull elk will lose their antlers each spring in March but will grow them back starting in late May. After mating season, in early summer, elk will migrate to higher ground where the cow (female elk) give birth. Each cow will have a single calf, usually standing by the time it’s just minutes old.
For prime elk viewing in Estes Park is best at Lake Estes Golf Course and the Estes Park 18-hole golf course. Within Rocky Mountain National Park, ideal locations to spot elk include Moraine Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, and Horseshoe Park.
And remember to always keep your distance and treat them with respect as these are wild animals in their natural habitat.
Estes Park lodging
If you are planning to visit Estes Park this fall for a chance to see some elk, be sure to browse our vacation rentals here at Rocky Mountain Resorts. We are happy to offer comfortable and affordable cottages, cabins, and vacation home rentals to suit your traveling needs. Be sure to also take a look at our seasonal specials and see how you can save on your Rocky Mountain vacation!