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  • Writer's pictureTeam Backcountry

Do Elk in the Backcountry Wilderness Area Migrate?

Find out if the elk in the Backcountry Wilderness Area make a big seasonal move like many other ungulates.


The simple answer is no. Migration is defined as a large physical movement across long distances. Elk that summer in the mountains usually retreat into lower elevations, but the elk in the Backcountry Wilderness Area are mostly year-round residents.

Since they are already at a lower elevation, our local elk move around Backcountry Wilderness Area sometimes crossing I-25 and Highway 85 along with visiting our neighbors in Daniel’s Park, Cherokee Ranch & Castle, and other neighboring areas. 


Elk have the resources they need to remain in the Backcountry Wilderness Area all year long: food, water, and space. In the winter, elk want to be near food and water while primarily resting. Activity during the winter forces elk to spend precious calories which can mean the difference between life and death.


Each January, we close the Wildcat Mountain trail system to humans to allow elk—and other wildlife—to spend their winter in a quiet survival mode preserving energy. There is a creek inside the Wildcat Mountain area and elk also access water by snow, periodic thawing of water sources, and even puddles. The lack of human presence allows the elk to rest and come into the spring hungry but in good health.  

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