Bull Elk in the evening light during an Elk Rut Tour in Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk Rut Tours
Private Estes Park Tours
September - Mid October

Yellow Wood Guiding offers private Estes Park Elk Tours of Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park, Colorado.

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Rocky Mountain National Park | Special Fall Tour Offering

Elk Rut Tours 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.

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 bull bugling during the Elk Rut
4 Hour Elk Rut Tours

The Elk Rut is one of Rocky Mountain National Park's most amazing wildlife spectacles. During the peak Elk activity dusk or dawn we will spend about 2 hours watching rut behavior, herd maintenance, bull's bugling and if lucky a quick but intense dominance fight. The other half of the tour we can seek out Mule Deer, a slight chance for Moose, and Bighorn Sheep. Rates and details below.

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8 Hour Morning & Evening Wildlife and Elk Rut

If you love wildlife and want to experience as much of Rocky Mountain National Park's autumn season can off we can split the day,  4 hour morning and evening sessions. Spend one session on the Elk Rut either morning or evening, the other we can enjoy aspen and mountain views, visit the Alpine Tundra or seek out more wildlife species and great views. Rates and details below.

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Elk Rut Tours

The park meadows are closed to walking so the elk can go about their business. We park along the meadow sideroads which can be busy but we can always find a place to park. Mornings have smaller crowds with good activity but usually about 20 or so minutes less action as the Elk head for the trees once the sun gets warm. Evenings on average have a bit more activity, are more crowded with folks parked along the meadow roadway, and are very dependent on the weather being cooler for closer activity. Sightings are usually 25-250 yards away. The warmer it is the farther away the elk are usually.

Bull Elk fighting during the Elk Rut Rocky Mountain National Park Tours

Elk Rut Tours  are half Wildlife Safari with a chance to see Big Horn Sheep, Mule Deer, Marmots (until Sept 10th), Pika, and other small mammals, and then we set up in one of the park's meadows around 5pm (evening tours) or first light (morning tours) to start watching the elk action. We will follow the elk and their action, and in October that usually means a migration from the national park to the town yards and golf courses of Estes Park. The September phase of the rut offers views of the largest bulls of the year, and October offers more chance for very close encounters but often close to civilization.  

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.

Elk herd with bull elk during the elk rut in Rocky Mountain National Park

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.

Elk Rut Tour Fees

(Total Is Shown - NOT Per Person, Rate Is The Same For 1 Or 2 Guests)

Guests 1 or 2 3 or 4
4 Hour Tour Total (Most Recommended) $325 $425
8 Hour Tour Total $700 $900

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Rocky Mountain National Park Tour Details

    Tour Details: All tours are private so the only guests will be the people you invite. We pick you up from your Estes Park hotel, or if you are staying at a home we would meet up at the Estes Park Visitors Center in our Plug-In Hybrid Electric SUV with a panoramic moonroof and heated seats so you stay warm exploring in comfort.

    Tours are limited to only 4 guests so you get personal attention. We only have 4 seats, and 4 sets of excellent gear. Yellow Wood Guiding strives to provide quality experiences for all of our guests.

    Tours are designed for adults and have a strict age 12 and up policy. Kids 14 and over enjoy the experience most due to the science being presented at a high school and college level. If your kids are under 16 please read the Safari FAQ to make sure this tour is for your family.

    Each guest has access to the best gear available from Swarovski binoculars, Kowa spotting scopes, Black Diamond hiking poles, hand warmers, to professional Nikon camera gear to make the most of your Rocky Mountain experience.

    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.

YWGuiding.com Est. 2007