A bull elk bugles as elk gather in the meadow at Horseshoe Park in Rocky Mountain National Park for their annual rutting season on Sept. 23, 2008. (Lyn Alweis, Denver Post file)

With elk rutting season approaching, Rocky Mountain National Park will implement overnight closures in select areas of the park beginning Tuesday.

Rangers have expanded the hours of closures this year because there have been increasing incidents of visitors approaching elk over the past two years, according to a park news release.

From 5 p.m. until 10 a.m., travel off of established roadways and designated trails on foot or horseback will be prohibited in Horseshoe Park, Upper Beaver Meadows, Moraine Park, Harbison Meadow and Holzwarth Meadow, the release said. In previous years, those closures were lifted at 7 a.m. but have been extended to 10 a.m. this year. Closures will remain in effect through Oct. 31.

In addition, fishing in designated areas of Fall River, Thompson River or the Colorado River will be closed from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m., as in previous years.

Elk rutting season normally peaks from mid-September through mid-October. According to the news release, the purpose of the closures is to “prevent disturbance and harassment of elk during their fall mating period and to enhance visitor elk viewing opportunities.”

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