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 17thAnnual Elk Fest in Bond Park and the surrounding area.
The free festival features bugling contests, Cabela's Archery Range, elk exhibits, the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, elk seminars, elk-inspired arts and crafts, Native American music, dancing and storytelling, self guided elk tour maps, a children's' area with elk-themed activities, and a craft beer garden. For safe & respectful elk viewing tips, please visit our Wildlife Watching page.
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.
Enjoy the Educational Seminar Tent to learn more about Elk and wildlife in Estes Park from a variety of professionals including Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Mile High Note Game Calls. 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! Colorado Parks and Wildlife are on-site offering an Elk Camp where you can explore a variety of educational booths, and their staff will be helping in the field as attendees take the self-guided elk tour!
Live country, rock and bluegrass music 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.
New in 2015, celebrate elk fest by participating in the 1st annual Rut Run 5k on Saturday, Oct. 3rd! Race day registration starts at 8:30am at Town Hall and the race begins at 9am. Entry for adults is $30, $25 for youth 14 and under and seniors 60 and older. Participants will start and finish at Bond Park with an elevation gain of 246 feet and will receive a long sleeve shirt, a one pint beer token and burrito. Register online for the Rut Run 5K here.
On both Saturday and Sunday, stop into Town Hall (adjacent to Bond Park/Elk Fest) to watch a 20 minute video produced by the Estes Park News that shares the history of Elk in Estes Park and how elk adapt to each season in our mountain valley. Learn safety tips for elk watching and see footage of Estes Park elk that has been included in National Geographic, the BBC and many others have used in their worldwide programming. Stick around after with staff from Colorado Parks & Wildlife for Q & A.
On Sunday from 1-3pm, amateurs 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.
Schedule of Events:
Saturday, October 3rd:
9am: Rut Run 5K
10am - 5pm: Festival Open & Wallowing Hole Beer Garden Open
10am - 3pm: Kids Corral
11am - 4pm: Elk in Estes Park movie showing, located in Town Hall - adjacent to Elk Fest
12:30pm - 2:30pm: Matt Skinner Band
3:00pm - 5pm: Native American Music, Dancing & Storytelling
Sunday, October 4th:
10am - 4pm: Festival Open & Wallowing Hole Beer Garden Open
10am - 11:30am - ReinTarnation Bluegrass
10am - 3pm: Kids Corral
11am - 3pm: Elk in Estes Park movie showing, located in Town Hall - adjacent to Elk Fest
11:30am - 12:30pm Native American Storytelling & Music
1pm - 3pm: Amateur Bugling Competition
3pm - 4pm: Native American Dancing, Storytelling & Music