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  • The Route of It All

Elk Herd & Skipping Stones, Timber Creek Campground, RMNP

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

Elk are amazing to watch: we'll never forget our experience in Rocky Mountain National Park when an elk herd went straight through the campsite at Timber Creek. It was a large herd. The rangers said that the herd came to the area every evening in the summer. We noticed that the elk were making their way around the campground to the fire pits. We just assumed they were going for scrap morsels left in the pit but when we asked the ranger if this harmed their diet we were informed that the elk were actually drawn to the fire pits to eat the salty charcoal briquettes. All of the fats and salts from what was grilled on the pits dripped onto the briquettes and made them into quite tasty elk treats. She said that it actually aided their digestion.

The ranger also mentioned that this was the first time in the season that the elk were bringing out their calves. The calves were so young, you can still see their spots in the picture below. The herd really loved the area and ended up hanging out the entire night. Honestly, hearing them the whole night was a bit eerie. Their cry is somewhat disconcerting, sounding slightly like Ring Wraiths from the film, Lord of the Rings. We were convinced that at any moment a spooked elk may run through our tent and trample us. It was not the best nights sleep, but we made it.

The Timber Creek campground is situated really close to the beginning of the Colorado River, which seems like it made the area even more enticing for the elk herd to hang around. The river was laced with petrified wood, quartz and other wonderfully worn down river rocks that made for excellent skipping stones and stack-able shapes to build cairns. The water was cool and refreshing and wonderful to wade across in spots where it wasn't too deep. Strangely enough, with it being so close to the campsites, we were the only ones there and got to spend hours enjoying our own little part of the Colorado River.

There were some older homesteads in the area that the park maintained to showcase what pioneer life was like in the area. They were a nice snapshot into the past. The day was ideal and beautiful; blue skies, cool breeze, and tall green lush grass.

Though we don't have a picture of it, the moment we will never forget at Timber Creek Campground, is the moment that night when the cloud cover lifted and revealed the Milky Way. It was like a dark veil being drawn up and revealing the beautiful bright galaxy hiding underneath. Coming from the South, where the humidity prevents such visibility of the stars, it was honestly a moment that we will always cherish.

Colorado River, Rocky Mountain National Park

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