Elk Tales: Exploring Colorado's Elk Mountains
Colorado is packed with incredible mountain ranges all of which provide unique experiences when compared against each other. However, few of Colorado's ranges compare to the mighty Elk Mountains located deep in the heart of the state's high country. Accessed by two iconic ski towns, Aspen to the north and Crested Butte to the south, this unique range has some of the wildest geology in Colorado. The three major rock types (igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic) can be found in these mountains with the crown jewel being the skyscraping Maroon Bells, two fourteeners named after the bright red rock that they are made of.
In addition to the geology, this range is incredibly lush. The range's unique position in the middle of the state allows it to catch moisture from storms approaching from the north, south, and west. Not to mention the copious amounts of rainfall the range receives in the summer during the annual monsoon. These factors allow the flora to flourish within the range, so much so in fact that the Elks are known as "The Wildflower Capitol of Colorado". It is for these reasons the Elks are among my favorite spots in Colorado or anywhere for that matter. So it was no surprise that over the summer we took not one but two trips down to the range to backpack, hike and camp among this alpine paradise.
Trip 1: Backpack to Yule Pass
Our first trip took us to lesser known region of the Elks within the Raggeds Wilderness. A short, but scenic trail took us into an idyllic high alpine basin filled with wildflowers and big views!
Trip 2: Moose, Deer, but No Elk in the Elks
Our second trip took us back to the Elks for a late summer camping trip to enjoy the last bit of warmth before fall set in. We spent a few days at Lake Irwin enjoying the warm days and cool nights. We saw plenty of wildlife as well, but surprisingly no elk.
It is safe to say we will be returning to the Elk Mountains again and again. A place we find close to our hearts with so much to see and explore. Until next time!
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