By: Dawn Wilson

The featured animal for this week is the adorable elk calf. We are just weeks away from the peak of the elk calving season. You may even start to see an elk calf or two in the next week so keep an eye out around each corner while in Estes Park or Rocky Mountain National Park. Here are five fun facts about this iconic animal of Estes Valley.

1. When elk calves are born, they only weigh about 35 pounds. By its first winter, the calf may weigh as much as 175 pounds.

2. Elk calves are born with white spots to help them blend into their surroundings and help reduce their chances of being seen by predators. These markings fade by about three months of age.

3. Cow elk finish shedding their thick winter fur and have their smooth summer coats just as they are ready to give birth, a sign that the weather is warm enough for the young calves.

4. The elk calf gestation period is about 245 days.

5. Cow elk will separate from the main herd to give birth in a more secluded location. She will stay with her newborn for about seven to 14 days before returning to the herd with her little calf.

Dawn Wilson is a professional and award-winning nature photographer who lives in Estes Park year-round. You can see more of her work, join one of her Rocky tours, and purchase prints at or follow her on Instagram: @dawnwilsonphoto.

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