In the fall, days are getting cooler, and occasional snows that fell only on the highest peaks in the park are creeping down to the lowest meadows in the park. The hummingbirds have migrated south to warmer winter climates. Garter snakes are finding rock crevasses to sleep in for the winter. Elk are beginning their annual rut, and the sounds of bugling are resounding through the meadows. Owls can be heard a bit more frequently at night. Night-time star gazing, the opportunity to breath in the cold, crisp night air and see a show that mankind has loved for thousands of years, is becoming irresistible for many.
Fall marks a change in rhythms for park wildlife, staff, and visitors. Most of the summer staff have moved on to other occupations for the winter, leaving only about half as many people to care for the park. Revegetation activities outdoors have mostly ended, although things are busy in the greenhouse to get ready for next year. Road building is nearly complete for the year. The visitors who visit the park in the fall are predominately from nearby - visitors from other states and countries usually visit in the summer.
This does not mean, however that there is nothing to see or do in the park in the fall. Viewing the elk rut has become extremely popular. The opportunity to view hundreds of elk, seeing the bulls fighting for harems, and watching this age-old cycle is spellbinding. Also, because of the changeable weather, photography becomes both challenging and rewarding. Terrific photos of fall foliage coated with frost are possible now. So if you are thinking of a visit to the park, now is a great time. Just remember to bring appropriate clothing for changing weather conditions, and plenty of enthusiasm for this delightful "season of changes."