Elk herd in Colorado mountains

Photo credit: milehightraveler. File photo. (iStock)

Elk rut season this year means annual meadow closures at the popular destination, according to officials at Rocky Mountain National Park.

Starting September 1, officials will close foot and horse travel on established roads and designated trails in the areas of Horseshoe Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, Moraine Park, Harbison Meadow, and Holzwarth Meadow. The closures will be in place daily from 5 p.m. to 10 a.m., until October 31.

An additional fishing closure will be put in place along Fall River, Thompson River, and Colorado River in posted areas from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. This is the same restriction put in place previous years.

These closures are due to elk rut season, which is a time of the year when elk seek mates. The closures are meant to prevent disturbances and harassment of these animals at this time, as well as to enhance the viewing experiencing for park guests. Elk calling and use of spotlights or headlights is prohibited in the park, as it always is.

Elk rut typically starts in mid-September and lasts for about a month, the park service said. Rocky Mountain National Park is swarmed with elk during this period, as is the nearby town of Estes Park. Regardless of where an elk is spotted — even if it's walking down a sidewalk — it is recommended to keep at least 75 feet of space between yourself and the animal. This may mean changing your path. These rules are in place to prevent negative human-elk interactions, which can result in goring and even death.

Read more about elk rut in Colorado here.

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