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Have you ever seen Elk play?

Did you know they are great swimmers?


One sunny afternoon at Mary’s Lake I watched a small harem of about a dozen females and their dozen or so offspring run like excited kids down the side of the hill straight into the lake. The cows guided their young ones with calls and pokes of nose and were only a little more sedate than the young ones who chased, frolicked, ran and swam in the beautiful, cool water.


Behind the last cow came a sleek and massive Bull – his smooth, copper hide almost glowing in the early afternoon sunshine. Unlike the gamboling youngsters, the Bull took the trail and entry into the lake at a stately pace, cooling first his legs and belly and drinking deeply, before plunging in for cooling dip.


While the Bull enjoyed his bath and the Matriarch watched from a short distance, the “children” played. A couple of adolescents poked, chased and teased one another – “Tag! You’re it!”  One of the littlest ventured out, swam for a bit and having noticed “mom” had stepped out of the water, ran, like an excited little kid to her side (Mom! I did it! I swam!) and received an obvious kiss and lick of apparent care and affection.


One of the larger adolescents, having trotted in and out of the water several times with the group, broke off from her sisters, raced into the water and splashed about behind “big daddy” – running closer, splashing, turning, kicking up a bit of spray, running out, and turning to do it all over again. The Bull remained sedate though it appeared he noticed and may have even been amused by her antics. I certainly was.


Enjoy our wonderful Elk and golden autumn in Rocky at this year’s Elk Fest – a free, fun and educational outdoor family friendly event.  Held on October 4 and 5, Elk Fest features bugling competitions, learning opportunities, live music, a Mountain Man Rendezvous, Native American storytelling and music, a display of raptors, a kids’ corral, a variety of vendors offering memorable souvenirs and plenty of good food. The “Wallowing Hole” beer garden serves daily from 11am – 4pm. The popular bluegrass band, Giddy Up Kitty, will be taking the stage on Saturday from 12:30pm – 2:30pm.


Rocky Mountain Conservancy will be on site for easy booking of your Elk Expedition. Thrill to spectacular displays of herding, bugling, posturing, playing, mating behaviors,  Elk Q&A and “Show-and-Tell” in the comfort of a mini-bus staffed by a professional educational guide.


Elk Expedition Tours are available each Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening between September 11 and October 18 (View dates and times at: )  Fee: $40 per adult, $20 per child (12 and under).  Register: 970-586-3262 or visit


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