It is that time of year again. The time when the aspen trees begin to turn and bull elk begin to bugle. Listening to an elk bugling “live” is an amazing experience. The range of pitches a bull elk can reach and the raw power of their calls will astound you and give you chills. We definitely encourage you to add, “listening to an elk bugle” to your personal bucket list.

Perhaps the best place to witness the fall elk rut and bugling is in our own backyard, in Rocky Mountain National Park. With hunting season in full swing, many animals flock to the park for protection. Drive through the park around dawn or dusk and chances are you’ll witness the rut going on in meadows and in trees. If you’ve got the time, head over Trail Ridge Road to the Eastern entrance of the park and look around for elk there.  Below are 15  facts about elk that will help you prepare for your Colorado Elk Experience and Excitement! 

15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Elk

  • The peak of Elk Rut occurs from mid-September through mid-October in the Colorado Rockies.
  • Elk will eat meat. Don’t worry, they won’t “hunt” but they have been known to eat eggs and nestlings if they come upon them. (Opportunistic creatures they are!)
  • A bull elk’s herd of cows is known as his harem. A harem can range anywhere from a few cows to 20+ cows.
  • Elk bugling might sound similar, but the different types of bugles mean different things. Some thoughts on possible meanings include, “my harem is in the area,” “cows get closer to me, you’re too far away,” and
  • “hey other bull, this is my harem of ladies and I will defend them.”
  • Researchers currently don’t understand what the grunts mean… Maybe you have a theory?
  • In the summer, elk antlers can grow an inch or more per day!
  • It is believed that the ancestors of elk had tusks way back in the day.
  • It is rare, but female elk have been known to occasionally grow antlers. This is usually caused by increased testosterone and other hormonal imbalances.



    • Scientists are researching the speedy growth of elk antlers to in hopes of discovering cures for cancers and other diseases.
    • Calves (baby elk) are born in May or June and are typically spotted like Bambi for the first six months.
    • The Shawnee people called elk the Wapiti. Wapiti meant something along the lines of, “White rump” or “light colored deer.”


  • Elk in the wild typically weigh between 400 and 1,100 pounds and live between 8 and 12 years.
  • Blood flows through the antlers in the spring and summer, acting as
  • built in air conditioners for elk.
  • Farms raise elk to harvest the velvet elk antlers. Why? Velvet antler supplements are used for anti-aging, healthy joints, energy, to strengthen the immune system, treat high blood pressure, and the list goes on… Note: There is insufficient evidence for many of the uses. Always consult a doctor prior to using velvet antler.
  • Elk have three stomach chambers, allowing them to digest twigs, and tough plants that other mammals can’t. (Don’t be too jealous, elk digestion includes a lot of regurgitation and “cud chewing” too…)