Elk Bugling is one of the top fall sights in Grand County's corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. From mid-September through mid-October and sometimes into November, it is elk breeding season. During this time, visitors can see up to hundreds of elk at a time gather amidst the unbeatable Rocky Mountain scenery for an unforgettable sight.
Elk are the largest, most abundant animals in Rocky Mountain National Park, and the best Grand County location to spot them is the Kawuneeche Valley. Especially during peak elk bugling season in September, it is common in the Kawuneeche Valley to hear males bugling through the crisp mornings just before dawn and tranquil evenings just before dusk. Visitors should listen for the distinct sounds of different bulls; each bull's bugle is made up of a series of grunts, high-pitched squeals and "shouts."
Bulls use these sounds to communicate with cows and surrounding bulls about a variety of things. The National Park Service website offers some interesting insight into what these calls signify.
If you head north out of Grand Lake and enter Rocky Mountain National Park, you immediately enter the scenic Kawuneeche Valley, where golden willows and occasional splashes of aspen decorate the winding headwaters of the Colorado River. Always and ideal spot for wildlife viewing, the Kawuneeche Valley is the best and easiest place to spot bugling elk in Grand County's side of the park.
For more information on the area, visit the Kawuneeche Visitor Center.
Please remember to stay quiet while viewing the elk during bugling season so you don't disturb or threaten them. Keep the car's engine and lights off, and be sure to keep your distance--if they are noticing you or moving away, you're too close! Stay on the roadways, follow all posted signage, and stay safe.