Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fall Elk Viewing at RMNP

The following is a guest blog by Outdoor Look: 

You can always see wildlife at Rocky Mountain National Park – the variety and abundance is amazing all year around, but the fall brings the opportunity to see Elk in full antlered glory as the rut or mating season takes place. The large bulls travel more and are less shy during this time period, thus providing more viewing opportunities, and the sounds of their calls can be heard echoing across the meadows and fields.

If you want to take advantage of this opportunity there are important tips to remember. First and foremost is that viewing wildlife is best done from a distance. A quality pair of binoculars is both safer and allows for better viewing than attempting to get as close as possible. The goal should be to observe elk in their natural environment and acting naturally. The closer you get the more likely you are to disturb them from their natural routine. While not considered overly dangerous, elk are large animals and you should take heed of their strength and ability to do harm if provoked or scared.

There are many ways to search for elk but the key to all of them is patience. Using binoculars to glass a meadow as you wait patiently is more productive than hiking through the woods and trying to “sneak up on them”. You’re certain to spot many other interesting animals while waiting, from small squirrels to mule tail deer, black bear, or even an outside possibility of a mountain lion. Particularly in the case of bear or lions, prudence is best. Don’t ever approach them, and follow the safety tips provided by the park service. The truth is you are far more likely to be struck by lightning than attacked by a lion, but common sense should be heeded.

Sitting still in one place for long hours patiently waiting is far more comfortable if dressed for the occasion. If you hike into a likely spot you should have a warm jacket available, as well as a hat and gloves. That rugged outdoor look in dressing has a purpose - to stay warm. Good waterproof outer layers will keep you from cutting your day short, or risking hypothermia trying to stick it out after becoming cold and wet. Having extra layers to add after reaching your destination will provide comfort, and won’t cause overheating or sweating during your hike, which will make the cold more noticeable once you stop moving.


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