One thing you’ll find, once in Estes Park, is lots of information on how to interact with our wildlife. All the advice can be summarized in a brief sentence. Enjoy them, but keep your distance. The same applies here at the lodge. However, we do need to pass along some other cautions.
First, raccoons are cute, and around almost every evening. They are also hungry and curious. If you leave food out on your deck, just assume they’ll eat it. A few years back, a guest put a styrofoam cooler filled with fish on his second floor balcony. Next morning he came into the office asking who’d stolen his fish. We told him and suggested he bring the cooler in at night. He didn’t. The following morning he came in and indicated that not only had they eaten the contents of the cooler, they ate through the cooler to get at the food.
Next, note that your door to the patio or balcony has a loop “lock” that goes around the handle, enabling you to have the door open an inch or two, but still be locked in. Use it. The raccoons were quick to learn that they just need to open a corner of the screen door and they can slip right in. Several times each summer guests come in and ask “Guess who I found looking at me at 3 am this morning?” we know of course.
Now, about the bears. As summer ends and fall approaches, bears wander into town, looking for food to sustain them through the winter. They love dumpsters and are very adept at breaking into them, despite the ways we lock the lids down. They announce their arrival by banging on the lids, as they attempt to open them. If you hear them, you’ll probably hear a door slam, see a bright light shined on them as I attempt to chase them away. You need to stay close to your front door. Occasionally, we’ll find one or two bear cubs wandering around. Should you see them, keep your distance. Their protective mother is probably close by and you don’t want get on her bad side.
The elk. They wander about at will. Keep your distance, particularly from a bull with a 6×7 rack (that’s a way of saying, really, really big). When a bull with a big rack swings his head from side to side, those points on his antlers cover a lot of ground. By the way, the elk have a calving ground adjacent to the walking trail on the nor side of Lake Estes. During calving season, the trail is usually blocked off during this time. However, after the trail is opened, there are cows and calves around for the rest of the summer. As you walk the lake trail, be careful not to get between a cow and calf. So, see a calf. Stop. Look around-see his mama on the other side of the trail–do not move. Wait till the calf is at her side and they move away from the trail.
We also have coyotes, an occasional fox, bobcats and mountain lions. But they are rarely seen and very shy.