The day dawned with the clear, bright blue skies that we have come to expect when in the West, but have not seen due to all the forest fires. We were glad that we saved this day to drive to the top of the park on the Old Fall River Road, a one way gravel road which climbed to 12,000 feet. We're beginning to see the fall colors we were expecting as well as lots of wild flowers that we associate more with the spring. At one point a raptor glared down at us from his perch high in a snag. Once we came upon a crowd of people and cars, we knew that animals must be near by. A bull elk with remarkable huge horns posed for a few shots and ambled into the bushes for a siesta. We could hear bugling around us and a herd of elk moved into view. They were a group of about twenty, with one bull and his harem and babies. Gorgeous views were all around. It's one of those days when the photographs do a better job of sharing our joy today than any words can do.
Once again we were surprised how crowded things remain. That handicapped sticker came in handy more than once to secure a parking place. Locals told us that hunting season has begun. Even though the animals within the park are protected, hunters stay inside the park and cross its boundaries to shoot. The original elk herd here was destroyed by over-hunting, and a new herd was imported from Yellowstone. They have done so well here without predators besides man, that the herd has become larger than the vegetation can support. I guess that's why the hunters are back.