The haunting call of the bull elk fills the Estes Valley during the early days of fall. The call begins with deep, resonant tones that rise rapidly to a high-pitched squeal before dropping to a series of grunts.
What is this strange sound and what does it mean?
To celebrate the annual elk rut and learn about the "wapiti," the Native American name for elk, Estes Park hosts the 18thAnnual Elk Fest in Bond Park and the surrounding area.
The free festival features bugling contests, a Cabela's Daisy Inflatable Shooting Range & Elk Camp, exhibits, the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, elk seminars, a Mountain Man Rendezvous, Native American music, dancing and storytelling, elk-viewing bus tours, a childrens' area with elk-themed activities, and a craft beer garden.
Vendors will display artwork, handmade elk-ivory jewelry, and will offer distinctive elk cuisine. Mountain men from around the country will gather at the Mountain Man Rendezvous to sell their wares and demonstrate their skills.
Daily elk seminars explain the elk breeding season, or "rut," and describe elk biology and management. Representatives from the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program will display on a gloved hand some of their magnificent rescued birds. It's amazing to see these majestic birds close up.
Live entertainment will light up the park Saturday with the Matt Skinner Band from 12:30pm - 2:30pm and on Sunday with Reintarnation from 10am - 11:30am.
On Sunday from 1-3pm, amateurs and professionals compete to see who can sound most like an elk bugling at the Elk Bugling Contest. Interested participants can read the rules and regulations and fill out the registration form here.