Explore Colorado: Estes Park tourism getting back in business

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 Estes Park Outfitters Nolen Lodge was built in 1985 and today is a private oasis in the middle of national forest. From the lodge you get an unobstructed view of Twin Sisters Mountain. During the summer, they offer horseback rides.  In fall, they are a full service elk and mule deer hunting service.

In winter, Estes Park Outfitters offers private snow cat, snowshoe, and cross-country skiing.  You can enjoy a backcountry stay at Nolen Lodge with dinner and breakfast included. Since all of the forest service roads are closed in winter, you will be picked up in a snow cat for a unique backcountry stay.

The 17th annual Elk Fest is October 4th  & 5th.

The haunting call of the bull elk fills the Estes Valley during the early days of fall.  The call begins with deep, resonant tones that rise rapidly to a high-pitched squeal before dropping to a series of grunts.

To celebrate the annual elk rut and learn about the "wapiti," the Native American name for elk, Estes Park hosts the 17thAnnual Elk Fest in Bond Park and the surrounding area.  The festival is free but for fees for the elk bugling contest and elk viewing bus tours.

The festival features bugling contests, educational areas, exhibits, the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program, elk seminars, a Mountain Man Rendezvous, Native American music, dancing and storytelling and elk-viewing bus tours.

Vendors will display artwork, handmade elk-ivory jewelry, and will offer distinctive elk cuisine.  Mountain men from around the country will gather at the Mountain Man Rendezvous to sell their wares and demonstrate their skills.

Daily elk seminars explain the elk breeding season, or "rut," and describe elk biology and management. Representatives from the Rocky Mountain Raptor Program will display on a gloved hand some of their magnificent rescued birds.  It's amazing to see these majestic birds close up.

The popular bluegrass band, Giddy Up Kitty will be taking the stage on Saturday from 12:30 - 2:30pm.

On Sunday, amateurs and professionals compete to see who can sound most like an elk bugling at the Elk Bugling Contest. Entrants can use a diaphragm, a horn or just vocal chords.

There is no admission fee to attend Elk Fest, but Elk-viewing bus tour tickets will be available to purchase. Afternoon bus tours take people to the best places to view and hear the elk. Each bus will have an expert guide on board to explain what viewers are seeing and hearing. Tours depart Bond Park from Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and from Noon to 4 pm on Sunday.  Fees are $5 for those over three years of age.

Festival Schedule:

Saturday, October 4th
9:00 am - 5:00 pm Educational Area, Exhibits, Commercial Vendors, Raptors, and Food
10:00 am - 4:20 pm Elk Viewing Bus Tours with Educational Guide
11:00 am- 4:00 pm Wallowing Hole Beer Garden and Children's Tent Open
9:00 am - 10:00 am Seminar: Breeding Season - "The Rut"
10:30 am Seminar: Elk Management & Biology (TBD)
11:00 am-12:00 pm Native American Music & Storytelling
12:30 pm - 2:30 pm Live Music: Giddyup Kitty
3:00 pm Seminar: Raptors - Rocky Mountain Raptor Programs
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Native American Music, Dancing & Storytelling

Sunday, October 5th
9:00 am - 5:00 pm Educational Area, Exhibits, Commercial Vendors, Raptors, and Food
9:00 am - 4:00 pm Elk Viewing Bus Tours with Educational Guide
9:30 am Seminar: Breeding Season - "The Rut"
10:30 am Seminar: Elk Management & Biology (TBD)
11:00 am- 4:00 pm Wallowing Hole Beer Garden and Children's Tent Open
11:00 am -11:30 am Seminar: Elk Calling Fundamentals
11:30 am-12:30 pm Native American Music & Storytelling
1:00 pm Bugling Contest
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Native American Music, Dancing & Storytelling