Elk Rut Safari 

Elk Rut Safaris are a must do trip for any wildlife enthusiast visiting Rocky Mountain National Park between September and mid October. Many people come to Estes Park to watch the Elk Rut but few of them really see what is truly going on. Spend an morning or evening with our guide getting play by play commentary on the rut activity, hear the bugling of bull elk, as you will also learn to read an Elk's mind through their subtle body language. The meadows are closed so the elk can go about their business, while we park along the sideroads so they can be busy but we can always find a place to park. Mornings have smaller crowds and sometimes just as good activity but usually about 20 or so minutes less action as they head for the trees once the sun gets warm.

Learn about their behavior, biology, history and survival strategies that makes the elk one of the most majestic animals in the Rockies. By the end of Elk Rut Safari you will be able to predict exactly when an elk will bugle, tell if a cow elk is interested in a bull or just playing coy, and know where to look to find the next potential fight between two bulls.

Elk Rut Safaris start with a general Wildlife Safari for the first half of the evening with a chance to see Moose (harder to spot after Sept 8th), Big Horn Sheep, Mule Deer, Marmots, Pika, and other small mammals , and then set up in one of the park's meadows around 5pm to start watching the elk action.

Wildlife Tours involve a good bit of driving throughout the park, a number of stops, and generally only a few minor walks as we explore the park for animals. Depending on the season we will likely drive over Trail Ridge Road, to 12,183 ft and back to find wildlife or east of Estes Park depending on your goals. When we find wildlife, we will generally park the vehicle and get out if its safe. Some sightings are very close, others may be so far we can only see them through the spotting scope. 

Fighting Bull Elk in Rocky

Tour Details: All tours are private, only the people you invite will come along. Groups are limited to four people to ensure each person has a quality experience with our naturalist. Limited to children 12 and up. Binoculars are available for each person as well as use of a spotting scope to really bring those distant creatures into view. Be sure to bring a jacket, hat and gloves as the evenings cool off fast as the action gets going. Sunscreen, eco-friendly and optics friendly bug spray, water and  healthy snacks are provided for all guests.

*Not included: Park entrance fees are $30 Day pass per car, $35 Week Pass per car or $80 for an annual pass. If you have a Senior, NPS Annual, or US Veterans and Active Duty Pass it is free as long as you have your pass and ID. I do not charge for a pass, as many folks already have one.

Yellow Wood Guiding is Authorized by the National Park Service, Department of Interior to conduct services in Rocky Mountain National Park. Fees for service are strictly for educational nature experiences and photography instruction, not transportation.

bull elk and harem
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Elk Rut Tour Fees  (Total Is Shown NOT Per Person, Rate Is The Same For 1 Or 2 Guests)


Guests 1 2 3 4
4 Hour Tour (Most Recommend) $255 $255 $300 $345
6 Hour Tour $385 $385 $450 $515
8 Hour Tour $510 $510 $595 $680