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Elk rut leads to closures in Rocky Mountain National Park

Hundreds of elk will descend to the lower meadows of Rocky Mountain National Park and attempt to fall in love.

ESTES PARK, Colo. — The elk mating period has begun in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP).

Starting Sept. 1, RMNP park officials instituted annual closures to prevent disturbance and harassment of elk during the period and to enhance visitor elk viewing opportunities.

The closures, which will be in effect through Oct. 31, are in place for travel on foot or horse off established roadways or designated trails from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m. The areas with the closures are Horseshoe Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, Moraine Park, Harbison Meadow and Holzwarth Meadow.

The elk rut lasts from late-September to mid-October in Estes Park. During that period, hundreds of elk will descend to the lower meadows of Rocky Mountain National Park and attempt to fall in love.

RMNP officials said as always, elk calling and the use of spotlights or vehicle headlights for spotting wildlife is prohibited in Rocky Mountain National Park.

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In 2020, the elk-related closure time extended from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. due to a significant increase in visitors approaching elk in previous years, when the morning meadow closures lifted.

Fishing in the Fall River, Thompson River or Colorado River within the posted areas remain the same as previous years and are closed from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m.

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