5 Tips to Help You Plan Your Trip to Estes Park for Fall Colors and Elk

ESTES PARK, Colo. (KDVR) – Soon the colors of fall will appear and people will be flocking to areas like Estes Park to see the leaves and the iconic elk that reside there.

“Fall is beautiful in Estes Park,” said Claire Molle of Visit Estes Park. “These are unique things that you only see once a year.”

She offered five tips to help visitors get the most out of their fall experience.

  1. Expect crowds

“I think you’re just going to have to plan for it to be busy,” Molle said.

She suggests visitors try to be patient on the roads, in restaurants and at trailheads.

“It’s probably a little less crowded if you go out really early,” she said.

2. You don’t have to travel the backcountry to see elk

“During the rutting season, you can see them anywhere. They are all over the city,” Molle said.

The elk’s rut ​​is the animal’s mating season. During the rut, the bugle of male elk and large groups of females are easy to spot.

“Lake Estes is always a great place to see elk. They like to hang out there. The golf course, the 18-hole golf course, is another awesome place,” Molle said.

3. Stay away from elk

“It’s easy to get upset because you see them around town and sometimes they catch you off guard and they’re just there and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, you can get close to them,'” Molle said. .

However, elk have attacked visitors in the past who got too close when taking photos and selfies.

Visit Estes Park recommends visitors use the “rule of thumb” when viewing wildlife. When you have your arm outstretched and you close one eye, your thumb should cover the animal’s entire body. If your thumb only covers part of the animal, you are too close.

4. Where to find Golden Leaves

“A beautiful place to see the leaves is to drive down the Peak to Peak Highway,” Molle said.

She also suggests seeing the changing leaves near Estes Lake and inside Rocky Mountain National Park.

5. Get a reservation before visiting Rocky Mountain National Park

“During September and part of October there is a reservation system for the national park, so that’s just something to keep in mind,” Molle said.

Advance reservations are required from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. to visit the Bear Lake Corridor, including Bear Lake, Sprague Lake, and Moraine Park. Reservations are required from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for all other areas of the park. The timed reservation system is in place until October 10, 2022.