Elk Town and Rocky Mountain National Park Safety

Estes Park wildlife and mountain conditions offer guests a unique atmosphere for their vacation. It is important to remember that the mountains can also be dangerous. Understanding your surroundings is crucial. Here are some of our Estes Park wildlife and environment safety tips.

Estes Park Wildlife
Approaching, feeding, or disturbing wildlife is dangerous and even illegal. If an animal is carefully watching you and appears “jumpy” when you move, you are too close.  Be aware of what is going on around you at all times. Wild animals know no boundaries, but people do.

Respect private property when viewing wildlife. Keep pets secured on a leash and do not allow them to bark at, lunge at, or chase wildlife. When observing wildlife, move your vehicle to a safe place completely off the roadway to avoid blocking traffic.

The National Park Service offers the following recommendations:

  • Don’t store food and coolers in your vehicle, outside your lodging option, or by a window
  • Dispose of garbage in the bear-resistant dumpsters only
  • Never try to retrieve anything from a wild animal
  • Report all wildlife incidents to a Fall River Village employee
  • Do not leave pets or pet food outside and unattended, especially at dawn and dusk – pets can attract animals
  • Avoid walking alone
  • Watch children closely and never let them run ahead or lag behind. Talk to children about mountain lions and bears and teach them what to do if they meet one

Check out Fall River Village’s latest wildlife sightings on Facebook here!

Elk are wild animals which must be observed from a safe distance to avoid injury or death.  Do not imitate an elk call, or bugle, when elk are irritable during the rut. Each September and October, elk gather in the valley for their mating season, or “rut.”  With this popular activity comes the responsibility for everyone to be safe and respect these majestic animals.  During the rut, the male “bull” elk are irritable, aggressive and extremely dangerous to onlookers who get too close. The elk calving season takes place in April and May of each year.  During this time, female elk, or cows, become irritable and highly protective of their young calves.  Though they may look harmless, like the bull elk during the rut, cows are extremely dangerous during calving season.  Marked calving areas should be avoided.

Black bear sightings have increased throughout Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park. There are no grizzly bears. Never approach a bear. It is best to travel in a close group and to keep children beside you. If a bear approaches you, stand up tall, and make loud noises – shout, clap hands, clang pots and pans. When done immediately, these actions have been successful in scaring bears away. However, if attacked, fight back! Never try to retrieve anything from a bear.

Mountain Weather and Environment

A bright, sunny day can turn windy and wet within a matter of minutes with high winds and driving rain or snow. Be prepared for changing conditions at any moment in time and carry these essentials: rain gear, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, and extra layers of clothing.

Start your hike, or other outside activity, early in the day. Plan to get below treeline or to a shelter before noon to avoid getting caught in an afternoon storm. If caught above treeline, get away from summits and isolated trees and rocks. Find shelter if possible but avoid small cave entrances and overhangs. Crouch down on your heels. When horseback riding, dismount and tie horses securely.

High Elevation
This increases the chance of dehydration, severe sunburn, mountain sickness (headaches, nausea, dizziness), and the aggravation of pre-existing medical conditions. Drink several quarts of water per day to ward off dehydration. Wear and reapply sunscreen often. If you begin to feel sick or experience any physical problems descend to lower elevations. Take a day trip to Loveland or Boulder! We do not offer refunds for early departures due to altitude sickness.

Mountain/Rock Climbing
This activity requires extensive training, skill, and proper equipment. Climbing the rock walls on or around the property is strictly prohibited.

Snow and Ice
The weather can change rapidly and unpredictably in the mountains. Guests may be exposed to the following risks as a result: icy or snowy walkways, parking lot, and stairs. The staff will make every effort to remove snow and ice when possible, but due to the speed and unpredictability of the weather and the availability of removal services, there may be times when snow and/or ice or slippery conditions exist. Please walk carefully and notify staff of dangerous spots.

Streams, Lakes and Waterfalls
Fall River can be deceptively dangerous. Keep your distance. In spring and early summer, the water is very cold and very fast moving. In winter, the ice can be thin in unknown spots. Don’t play on, in, or near the river.

Giardia, plague, Colorado Tick Fever, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, & Hantavirus can be contracted through area wildlife, streams, and rivers. Please look into the behavioral risks involved with these diseases and avoid those behaviors while visiting Estes Park.

(sources for this information: National Park Service, Town of Estes Park)