As the aspens begin to turn golden yellow and the cooler temperatures suggest the possibility of an early ski season opening day, lucky residents and visitors are blessed to observe the annual elk migration.

Their spectacular majesty graces our mountains and even our own backyards painting exquisite beauty and splendor. The herds of elk are plentiful on most mountain ranges in Utah.

It isn’t uncommon to spot a herd of elk meandering through Park City Golf Course or making their way down Old Ranch Road. The elk of Summit County are large hoofed animals similar to deer but much, much larger. Adults can weigh a striking 1,100 pounds and stand up to 5 feet at the shoulder. While the coloring of the elk blend with the golden aspens keeping them safe from rough conditions or predators, many residents can spot their cream colored rump, light brown body and a darker brown neck, face and legs.

Due to their large size and heavy coat, elk live in high mountain elevations between 6,000-10,000 feet during the hot, summer months. In the fall, elk migrate down the mountain slopes to lower elevations for food, water and mating. During the mating season, called “rut”, locals and visitors alike are serenaded by the bull elk’s bugling. A good place to spot local herds is at Round Valley. Located just off Kearns Boulevard and Highway 40, Round Valley off ers the chance to see these beautiful animals while snowshoeing, fat biking or Nordic skiing. While enjoying a drive to view the panoramic beauty of Deer Valley and Park City ski resorts, oft en cars must stop for a frequent passing of an elk herd.

Seeing these magnifi cent creatures in person is an awe-inspiring experience. While the large herd is a stunning photo op, keep your distance. Always give wildlife their right of way.

Our majestic elk population is just one more reason to love Park City and the mountain life. Keep your cameras ready!